My Father Confesses.

I had never heard this story before this past Halloween night.

My dad confided in my son, my son repeated the story to me, and I immediately understood why my childhood had been filled with irrational fears and neuroses, why our hearts were always heavy with dread.  Why we were convinced something awful was about to happen, every single day of our young lives.  And awful things did happen.

Because of his story, I had an epiphany.  My baffling anxious ulcer-inducing childhood made complete sense.

My father was ten years old, out on Halloween, trick or treating with a friend.  They were both in costume.  My dad wore a mask.  He and his friend each carried a paper bag to collect candy.

As he and his friend left one house and walked along the sidewalk to the next, a blue sedan screeched to a halt beside them.   A big man jumped from the car and hit my dad in the head, tore his mask from his face, and dragged him into the backseat of the car.

He abused him, beating him, threatening him, holding him hostage for fifteen minutes while my dad, bleeding from his mouth nose and ears, screamed, cried, begged and pleaded for his life.

At last the man let him go.  My father ran home and told his parents but they didn’t believe him.  They assumed he’d been in a fight.  Nobody called the police, even the other boy (who ran home in a panic) had been too terrified to tell anyone.

And now what was clouded becomes clear.

I spoke with my dad and of course my mother chimed in with these words of wisdom:  “We’re lucky your father is as good as he is.”

Well, she is right.  If something like that had happened to me I’d never leave the house.  On the other hand, my dad limped along most of his life as though nothing had happened.  But it weren’t pretty, I tells ya.

Wow.  Just… wow.

Tomorrow – My mother’s logic of the convoluted.






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12 Responses to My Father Confesses.

  1. Oh, Julia.
    There are hours that make…or break a life, define…or destroy a spirit, and after those hours all other hours change, not just for one person, but for generations. I’m so sorry for your father, but especially for you and your siblings.

  2. Amber Skyze says:

    OMG…how awful and scary. If it happened to me I’d be in the house forever too. My heart goes out to your father for suffering all these years.

  3. I know, Amber. My poor dad! He needed therapy but nobody got therapy in those days. Besides, his family was poor.

  4. Marylin – his spirit did not return until he was much older, as in… hmmm, maybe his 60′s when he began taking anti-depressants. He’s been great since then.
    It’s funny how everyone in town thought we were the perfect family but we were so messed up. I have two sisters. Both of them are crazier than I am and that’s saying a lot! ;)

  5. I couldn’t stop thinking about your post, Julia.
    Have you read MYSTIC RIVER by Dennis Lehane? The opening scene is similar to your dad’s experience, except there are three friends, one is taken away in a car by two men, and the boy’s ordeal lasts for days. Readers know that his life has changed forever, but Lehane keeps some of his changes private until the end. Lehane also adds another dimension: how everyone looked at the boy as damaged from then on, and that added to the damage.
    So much happens to children and adults that is made worse by doubt that it happened or keeping things secret, or by those who should have helped them but either couldn’t or didn’t help.

  6. I know what you mean, Marylin — My one sister and I can’t stop thinking about it either. How traumatic! I simply can’t imagine. Yes, I read Mystic River. It upset me terribly. And I knew nothing about my father at the time. I know how trauma manages to multiply.

  7. It’s so awful that a stranger was allowed to hurt your father that way and the repercussions were felt by an entire family for three generations.
    Its also so healing that he told his grandson.

  8. I know, Kat. I think it’s remarkable that he told my son, and I’m so glad. Seriously, he finally told someone. I can imagine how terrified my dad was and how helpless he felt. Makes me sick. These days parents would absolutely believe their children.

  9. anny cook says:

    We never really know our parents or our kids. Blessings on your dad!

  10. Thank you, Anny. We do find out the most interesting, unusual, freaky, scary, funny stuff.

  11. Roberta says:

    Every family is messed up in some way. All of us have wounds. Not as severe as your dad’s. But wounds nevertheless.

    It is amazing to me that humans have been able to achieve all hey have and have a world filled with so much.

    Don’t know where I am going with this. Ramblings of a crazy woman who needs some sleep.

  12. It’s true, Roberta. There is no such thing as a perfect family or a perfect life – don’t exist. Sometimes we achieve anyway. Go sleep. I’m with you. I’m desperate for sleep.