Fathers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
After a lot of positive response last time, it’s time to dive deep again.
Hold onto your butts.
I don’t talk about my father much.
Actually, I do everything I can to avoid the subject.
Maybe it’s time to change that. Maybe by writing about it all, I can move past it and find some peace about it.
So, here goes nothing.
This is the story of my father, the worst man I have ever known.
I don’t know anything about how my parents met, they never talked about it and my mother doesn’t talk about him these days.
We start with the day I was born, December of 1986 in Indianapolis at what was a Women's only hospital, back when those things still existed.
I am told I was due on christmas day, but I came early.
My mother was at home watching my step sister from her previous marriage, when I started my arrival into this world. My father was at “work” selling used cars downtown. She called him, and he was “too busy to come”. My mother had to call a cab to get to the hospital.
I didn’t take long to be born, I don’t know the exact time, and there were no problems. My father was nowhere to be found, the family called everywhere they could think of. Remember folks, this was long before cell phones.
Later that night, my uncle received a call from the county jail, my father had been arrested. ( I didn’t know this story until I was 25)
You might think that the arrest was for speeding to the hospital, trying to get to the birth of his first and only son. You’d be wrong.
The arrest was for solicitation. My father, on the day and time of my birth, was trying to get laid with a hooker, on the complete opposite side of town no less. Indianapolis isn’t a small town, he was picked up nearly 20 miles in the opposite direction of his workplace and the hospital.
I don’t know the story after that, again my mother doesn’t like to talk about it. This is just the information I got from his arrest record and relatives.
From the time of my birth to about age 10 is very hazy for me. I have had multiple concussions and seizures, so my memory is very poor. I do, however, remember big moments.
My parents managed mobile home parks for a living. They worked for a company that owned most of the parks from illinois east. We started in Indianapolis, moved to Kentucky for a short time, then to South Carolina, then to Georgia for a time, then to multiple places in northern Indiana where they ended that phase of their lives.
I don’t remember Indianapolis at all.
Kentucky was a different matter.
I was in kindergarten at the time, whatever age that would be.
I mainly remember a few big details.
My parents constantly fought, it was nearly everyday. My father would often take out his aggression on my mother and me, I don’t know what he would do to her, for it was always behind closed doors. He loved throwing things at me, or better, throwing me. If I was on a tractor sitting where he didn’t like, he would pick me up and throw me to the ground. He would throw wrenches and tools at me. Have you ever seen the dodgeball movie? “ if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!”, yea that was my childhood in kentucky.
In south carolina, things were more intense.
We lived right next door to a military base that was being closed, the entire county hated that. We had violent community in our park. Military personnel who had just bought houses, now had to sell them, gangs and more gangs.
I have only three main memories from this place.
We had a playground behind the office that was fenced in. I would spend my days swinging and doing whatever kids do. I remember my father storming out of the office, picking me up off the swing and throwing me into a tree trunk. I was terrified because I couldn’t breathe, speak, or move.
Looking back, I know all he did was knock the wind out of me, but for a kid in first grade, I thought I was dying.
My second memory came a week later. My father had broken his hand while trying to clean out a drain with a snake. ( a snake is a long , electric powered, metal snake looking device with a claw on the end, used to clear sewer pipes)
The day after he had come home from getting the splint on his hand, he was taking me to school and evidently lost his mind. He threw a tantrum and told me I had to walk to school. Me, a first grader, had to walk to school in busy Charleston South Carolina. I remember walking for a while, but I don’t remember what happened after. I don’t know if I got to school, or home. I wish my memory was better.
The last thing I remember from that state was my kidnapping. Maybe a bit more dramatic than actually was, but I don’t know what else to call it.
I was in that playground when someone put their hand over my mouth and took me to a dark part of the park. I vividly remember this part, I can see it clearly, but I don’t know what happened after. I know this has nothing to do with my father, but it’s the only other memory I have from living here.
We were transferred to Georgia to run another glorious mobile home park. I have nothing against mobile home parks, I have just had my fill of them.
I have no real memories of this place concerning my father. I recall some school things and a hurricane, but nothing that would contribute to this story.
Moving on to our big move to northern Indiana.
This is where I start to remember things a bit clearer.
We started out in a very small city called Oceola. I think I remember this more because my parents were fighting more frequently.
My father was a toddler when it came to fighting. He would scream at the top of his lungs for a solid hour, then he wouldn’t say a word for at least a week, sometimes up to two months. His “ silent treatment” was a torture fest. He would lock himself into a room, the rest of the house had to be very quiet or else he would come out and slam doors or throw things. He wouldn’t do anything he was supposed to do, often losing jobs and making me fake sick for school because I wasn’t walking the 10 miles to get there and my mother went to work three hours before school opened. * I should mention I went to a private school mostly, because public school and I didn’t agree.
While we lived in this place, he would often get mad at me for various things. I am not saying I was a saintly child, but I just don’t remember the things I did. His method of punishment was to hit me. Let me make this very clear, I was never spanked, that was too obvious to anyone who was around. It would be clear that I couldn’t sit down, and he had to make sure that everyone around knew he was the perfect parent and his child did no wrong. So, his method was to hit my chest, back, or head. This way it didn’t show to anyone who looked. My mother didn’t even know, he knew what he was doing.
We moved to Middlebury after a few years of that.
A change of location didn’t really do much, he grew older and angrier.
The last park we lived in was in Elkhart. This was nightmare park, or at least I thought at the time.
Every day here was a new treat. He would scream at me, throw things at me, and invent new ways to humiliate me.
I was a fat kid, well I am still fat, but as a child I was worse. He loved making fun of me, and took every chance he could to humiliate me.
Living in a mobile home park, you are given a golf cart to do your daily tasks. He modified the one at this park in two ways. This one went faster and didn’t have the safety handles on the passenger side. One of his joys was to get going as fast as possible and turn left hard. I was flung out of the cart and onto the street, grass, or whatever may be sitting there. This was a daily thing.
One day, he was driving around and an older lady asked us to help her put in a window air conditioner. I remember this being a very hot day, and for some unknown reason he said yes. He was never generous or willing to help anyone.
We put it in, and went about our way.
About a week later, the company who my parents worked for sent a letter firing them. The reason stated was that it was against the rules for a resident to have a window air unit and they broke the rules by installing one.
Guess who got the blame from my father.
I had ruined his life, and thus had to pay.
I’ll let you use your imagination.
We moved into a short term apartment, very small and it sucked.
My parents found a housing edition that was building new homes.
I don’t know how it all worked out, but we moved into a brand new home.
I thought, just maybe this would be a fresh start.
Boy was I wrong.
My mother was working more than full time to pay the bills while my father “ looked” for work.
He worked a few places here and there, nothing solid. ( much later I found out that one of these jobs was at a hotel where he was also buying and selling pain pills and narcotics, more on that later)
In the meantime, I had started High School.
My father had a brilliant idea, lets do homeschooling.
I didn’t have a vote, and frankly neither did my mother.
My fathers idea of school was this.
Gym class from 6am-430pm. Non stop working out. He made up his own routines, which included me jogging 6 miles a day, no matter the weather or how I felt. I knew I was overweight, but he thought he could turn me into Swartzenager.
This was his grand idea, he wanted to turn me into his gold mine. He kept trying out different things on me. He wanted to turn me into a body builder, that didn’t work, Basketball star, nope, hockey, not a chance, golf, it was fun, but no. That was the final straw, he bought a golf set at a garage sale and thought I was the next tiger woods. He got so mad that I wasn’t a natural talent that he broke a putter over my back. I won’t tell you what he did with the 9 iron.
Shortly after this, my father started and ended working at an rv manufacturing plant. He was working on one and fell off, injuring his knee.
A few years there and we moved to Rochester. This was in order to start working at the family business. Portable toilet manufacturing, yes you read that correctly. They make very fancy and very expensive port-a-potties.
I had a good job before that, I was managing the maintenance part of a hotel. It wasn’t glamorous, but I liked the work. However, it wasn’t the RIGHT work, according to my father.
We moved into a rather old house, it needed alot of work.
Shortly after moving in, my father decided that he wanted to redo much of the house. He knew nothing about it, but he wanted to try. This took years and he didn’t do any work, this was my job. I was always doing the work while he watched and yelled at me.
After a family blowout, I found a much better job managing an electronics store.
My father hadn’t worked his his injury and was on disability.
Here is where the fun begins.
My father was turning into a con artist with a major pain pill addiction.
He decided that he couldn't walk anymore, even though he was fully capable.
He had taken up a full part of the house, that was once mine, and shut us out completely. He would only talk to us when he needed something or was ranting about something.
He loved sympathy, he loved attention, and he loved lies.
He was able to get a free power wheelchair, two free brand new vans, get a meet and greet with miley cyrus, get a grant from the city, and get a free trip to Disney. All by conning people. He had people buying into his act of being a weak man who was unable to walk or feed himself due to tremors.
As soon as the door was closed and he knew no one was watching, he would pop up out of that chair, the tremors would go away, and he would dive into his stash of pain pills and drugs.
He had a big stash too. One weekend he took a trip to Indianapolis, so I took my locksmith skills and broke into his part of the house. I found a closet full of prescription pills and god knows what else.
I was spending a lot of hours at work and at church. I would often come home to my room ransacked and my things missing. My father would take my things and sell them, or just destroy them out of spite. Twice he drilled a hole in my harddrive.
Toward the end of our relationship, he started getting more violent.
I was friends with most of the business owners on main st. They came into my store often and being a small town, we just ran into each other a lot.
One day the owner of the gun shop told me that my fathers order would be in next week. I instantly told him to cancel it and explained the situation, after involving an officer I knew, my father was not allowed to purchase firearms.
I tried to get him to search the home for narcotics, but there were so many legal loopholes that it wouldn't work.
One winter, I was walking to work, as I usually did, and I slipped on the ice.
I felt pain, but I was the only one working that day so I waited to go to the doctor till the next day.
Turned out that I tore a few things and I needed surgery.
The very day I came home from surgery, my father blew up.
I think he was high on something. I was on crutches, and the instant I came home he was throwing things.
He tossed vases at me, plates, books, whatever he could find.
He was even hitting my dog with his cane.
He threw my mother and I out of the house.
I called the sheriff, and unfortunately since we had been outside the home, he had rights to the house and we had to leave. I’m still mad about that.
I told the police about the violence and such, they couldn’t do anything.
My father said I could come and get things, for 30 minutes.
Me, with one good leg, in a two story home, had a half hour to get a lifetime worth of possessions and clothes for me and my mother out.
Oh and I had to get my motorcycle out.
Everything I left was his.
On my way out he yelled “ You were the biggest mistake I ever made!”
That was the last thing he ever said to me.
We went back once, to give back keys and get one box of things he packed up.
We didn’t exchange a word.
Luckily the owner of my story had an apartment I could rent, so we moved into that for two months. Then moved several more times.
I had to get a new vehicle because my father was following me everywhere I went when we were still living in the same town.
My father moved out of the house, not long after selling everything I couldn’t get out that day.
He moved down to Indianapolis, made amends with his mother and siblings and died in 2011, just short of his 60th birthday.
I was just about to move to Michigan when he died.
I didn’t cry, didn’t laugh, didn’t anything.
I just didn’t care. I know this makes me a horrible person, but I couldn’t find a feeling for it.
I still can’t.
I’m not sure if I ever will.
I know one thing.
If I am every lucky enough to be a father, I will be a better man than he was.
I learned all the wrong ways to be a father, I know how not to be a good man.
I can be a better man than my father.
Even if I don’t have children, I will be a better man.
I know I didn’t have the worst father in the world, but he sure wasn’t the best.