Owning It All…Taking Responsibility
(Where do you want me to be, up there? On-stage, wow in front of everyone. How long do I have to do this? Fine, until we’re done. If I must explain something, I’ll point that out but I’m going to start somewhere in my sophomore year. I’ll get around to the rest, it will tie in; ok I’m ready! Stop stalling, got it.)
Anyway, those days were planned to be either working both jobs after school or hiding in my room until I finished high school. Having another argument with my father was not on the list of things to do on any day. Being angry, frustrated and literally up against a wall with my parents became a daily struggle. Living by chance was no longer an option. We’d been here before though no one close would be able to tell how deep the hatred had grown between my father and me. By the age of 15, our major drama had died down since our last argument after we moved into our new house. My father felt his grasp was too loose in the suburbs. My mother was respectfully yelling for us to stop. “Oil and water! Let go, she didn’t absolutely say no. She misunderstood you.” My mother had the habit of changing what I say into what sounds or feels better for everyone else. She scolded me for being disrespectful for wanting to keep the money from my jobs. I was selfish after they fed, clothed and gave me a Catholic school education. This is where the official guilt quote usually came in when control left the room. “Honor your mother and father, your days will be longer.” Like she had the ultimate cure for everlasting life. It always made my eyes roll since this meant the bull was going to start rolling. Manipulation was law in the Rose family. Turbulence and chaos ran ragged through my childhood and early adult life. The rift went deep and long on both sides of my family until news came of Francis’ death.
2014 was sweltering when my phone rang under the umbrella in our backyard, “Mom are you sitting down?” I put my wine glass down hearing my oldest son, after a few seconds the joy of getting a call changed when I heard the tone in his voice. “What’s wrong with you? What happened, are you okay?” He assured me that he, my grandson, his girlfriend and everyone he cared about were fine before getting to the reason he sounded so frantic. “Like I said mom, are you sitting?” When he heard my warning for dragging out his point, “My grandfather died in his sleep.” I blinked because of the care in his voice, “What do you mean? Did you mean your father’s dad died? His silence answered but I asked, “Are you sure, there’s no way. Did you verify it?” He reassured me by naming the relative that called him and to avoid any doubt I said, “Don’t worry we’ll get it from the source. Texting her now, let’s see what she says.” He knew we haven’t been on good terms after we moved to Washington, DC in 1990 and haven’t spoken since 1997. Lee witnessed growing up how unhealthy our relationship became and how peace was not an option since they wanted complete control. I wouldn’t comply so they liked catching me off guard by disappearing for a while only to pop up when least expected to cause problems. This was their last-ditch effort to get my attention so maybe I’d finally behave. I could almost hear the anger and empty threats before I opened social media to remove the block from my mother’s name. I took a deep breath and began typing. Dreading every word, I reminded myself that this had to be clear, polite, respectful, firm and focused. The problem is when you’re reaching for honesty, they’re in manipulation mode.
To Be Continued…
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