This is the first draft of the prologue for my novella. I call this work my fictional auto-biography. If you know me, you will understand when you read it, and if you don’t, you can just assume it is fiction. I have been working on this off and on for many years, and there is more to it than this prologue, but for now, this is all I am willing to share. I haven’t looked at it in a while so some editing and proofing is in order before readers get a crack at it.
My father is dead. I am traveling by plane to attend his funeral. I haven’t spoken to him in over a decade, and I actually find comfort in the fact that I will never be able to speak to him again.
You might be thinking, “What is wrong with this person? How can anyone be so heartless?” I assure you, there are reasons within reasons that I didn’t speak to him while he was living. I am not cruel and I do have the capacity to care for another. As proof, I married my high school sweetheart – the boy I started dating when I was only 15. We have a daughter who we both love and care for to the best of our ability. I even have a fondness for animals.
I am also not one of those people who grow up, move out, and have little to do with their family after that. I am very close to most of my siblings. My oldest sister is even the person I consider to be my best friend. We speak on the phone almost every day.
How can I then be so content with the fact that I will never speak to my father again? It’s simple; I remember the last thing I said to him. It was actually on his voice mail because he didn’t answer the phone when I called. The last 4 words I said to my father were “You are a moron.”
To this day, I still believe that to be true. I said that to him the week before my daughter turned 1. The last time he saw his granddaughter, she was less than a year old. It’s been over a decade, and I’m not proud to say it, but it’s better that he hasn’t been a part of her life.
My flight to Missouri is going to be a long one. It’s giving me too much time to think about things… To think about moments, the past, and what it will be like to see family again.
You might be wondering, why would someone who doesn’t want to speak to their father bother going to his funeral? I’m not going there to see him. Funerals are for the living – I am going to give comfort to those I care about who might actually miss him.
Not every child of my parents feels the same way about them that I do. Some of my brothers and sisters even talk to them still. I don’t. My older sister, Caroline, doesn’t either. The rest do, the other 4 of them. That’s right, there were 6 of us. And before you ask, we aren’t and never have been Mormon. Or Catholic.
The 6 of us will be together again. We will gather to say goodbye to one of the crazies who raised us. I am going to this funeral for them. Because after what we have been through, we still have each other.
Our story is not unique. Our story is not the only time that someone has had a bad relationship with their parents. Our story, unfortunately, is a bit of a cliché. There is an evil step-mother and a father who ignores the truth of the situation.
You might ask if we were abused. The answer to that is not simple. No, we weren’t physically abused; at least, I wasn’t. There were a couple of times our parents crossed a line while “disciplining.” But for the most part, no, we weren’t subjected to repeated physical abuse.
My father, though not physically abusive to most of his children, is a mean man. If you think you know what that word means, you don’t. He was easily angered and his anger made him cruel. He had the ability to take whatever part of you that you were most proud of and use it against you. He used words to hurt his children and make them doubt themselves. He was a man who should not have been a father. He never knew his children, and for whatever reason, he didn’t love them.
His anger wasn’t the worst part of growing up in that house. His mood could be very mellow when he was left to his own devices. However, when combined with his wife, Darla, the result was verbal and mental abuse to 6 underserving children. You see, the main reason these two should never have married had nothing to do with the fact that their children were already related. Yes, I said related, but I will get to that bit later. Ted and Darla should never have married because Ted is a controlling person and Darla is a manipulator. She made him crazy. She played games with him, forced him to tell lies, and manipulated everyone around him.
In fact, for most if not all of their marriage, Ted had every right to be mad at Darla. My dad, afraid of losing Darla like he lost my mother turned his anger on us. All the while, Darla caused more trouble than any one has a right to.
As I’m thinking about my dad, I can’t help dwelling on the past. The flight is giving me time to think about how I got to where I am today. My memories seem jumbled together and get mixed up, but the hollow feeling of years of anger still remains.
I remember reading somewhere that writing is a cowardly art. If that’s so, then this is my cowardly way of pointing fingers and dredging up the past. I’m writing about things I could never discuss with most of my family. There have been times when I’ve tried to tell friends about some of these things, but the meaning doesn’t seem to come across clearly to them. There is no way to truly feel what I felt growing up with Ted and Darla, so you’ll have to take my account of events as they are written.
These reflections are what I like to call a truthful fiction. Parts of it are so true they make my insides ache when I think about them; other parts though fill the holes and make it more palatable – I would say believable, but there is nothing that makes this story entirely believable.