Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Childhood Trauma Tuesdays

I don't know how long I'll be able to post to this topic, but I'll do the best that I can. What follows isn't the worst story I have to tell, as I don't think my childhood was (completely) horrible. Er... not mostly.

My parents were married in 1959. My eldest brother was born in 1960, eldest sister in 1961, next brother in 1964, me in 1966, and then the spoiler, my little sister in 1968.

My parents were disiplinarians, but I don't fault them for that. Years later, I would have a conversation with my father's mother, and she would say that she thought (at the time) that my parents were too hard on us.

We weren't allowed to have guests over, much. Certainly not without one of them there. I remember a "gathering" at the house once. I asked my father if I could have a soda. He asked "Have you had one already?" I replied that I had. He said, "Well then, book!" meaning I needed to get out of the room, out of the house, out of his sight. He was pissed, but I didn't know why.

Turns out, he was pissed at my mother. She had gotten drunk again. I just didn't know that. This was circa 1974. I didn't realize my mother was an alcoholic until much later (and she didn't realize it until even more time had passed).

Little did I know, a year later, he would be overseas again. It was 1975 and he had been stationed by the USMC on Okinawa. We moved to my mother's home, north of Seattle. When he returned, we moved back to California with him and lived on the base. My dad had a new ring.

It was huge. It celebrated the 200th anniversary of the USMC, and had his birthstone in it. That, and another stone, a small diamond.

I hated that ring, for one reason and one reason only. Whenever my dad got pissed at one of us, he would pop us in the head with it. Typically, that meant that one would get a dent from the ring in the front of our head, and another dent, bigger, in the back from snapping back and making a connection with the wall we forgot was there.

Ten years later we (or at least I would) learn that the ring had been a gift from his mistress. She had a ring just like it (only smaller and more lady-like). It was in celebration of their union, unlike we'd been told. The diamond was her birthstone.

My parent's finally got divorced almost 10 years later. They'd lasted 24 years. My dad and step-mother were together for another 20 years before he'd died. It turns out, he was only happy with ANY woman for about 10 years before he would stray (but that's another story).

When my dad died, I asked -specifically- for one thing. That ring.

I didn't want my brothers to have it.

They both have children.


Blogger Spider said...

Wow... is it not totally amazing that many of us ended up as half way normal as we are given the childhoods we came from...

4/05/2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm curious... where do you keep the ring?

4/05/2006 10:11 AM  
Blogger MiKell said...

This story sounds like it was bad, but I don't consider it so. Really.

And Dave: I wear the ring. Everyday. I have already willed it to my eldest brother, in the event of my early demise. Mostly because he is my father's namesake, and it probably should have gone to him anyway.

Our relationship got much better in the eight years 9or so) before his death.

4/05/2006 8:53 PM  
Blogger Brian FInch said...

Thats a nice story in a strange way. When my grandfather died, the only thing my father could think of was a vinyl carry on bag.

4/14/2006 4:59 PM  

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