Will B. Breaking Chains
With Father’s Day coming up, I decided to the experiences I had with my dad. I have been growing since I started working at Olney Enterprise. Ask anyone who knew me before moving in Olney, and they would tell you I am a very private introverted person. I have one or two friends, excluding my best friend who I married. I say this so that you know how hard I wrestled with writing about my relationship with my dad.
Perception and memories are all relative. The way I remember something may be different from what a brother, sister, or friend may remember something that occurred but to my perception is reality. So, this is my story of my relationship with my dad as I perceive it.
My first memory of my dad is when I was about five or six years old. He left my mom, two brothers and a sister in the ghetto, government apartments or slum whichever you choose to call it, in Tulsa, Oklahoma 45 or 46 years ago as I recollect. My dad had hit my mom to what extent I do not know.
My mom could not afford to raise all of us, so sometime later, my two brothers and I were sent to live with him and his new wife in Texas. Let the torture and fear begin.
The main theme I can remember ever since I was knee high was the constant fear of getting beat on. My dad was the kind of person who could not just simply spank. It started with the belt and would from time to time escalate to different things he would beat me with; A 2x4, belt buckle, fist or whatever was close at hand at the time his rage grew out of control. He put one of my stepbrothers in the hospital after beating him with a 2x4 on one occasion. This was just the physical side of it. The thing that still irks me to this day is not having a Father to show me how to be a man — not having a Father push me in the right direction — not having a Father to mentor me and give Fatherly advice. The list is very long of regrets of not having a good Father.
When I was 15, I had had enough after getting punched in the mouth by dear old Dad for something I had not even done. That summer, I devised my plan and put it into action. I got a job at McDonald’s by Six Flags in Arlington, Texas, I signed up for Driver’s Ed at Arlington High School and rode my 10-speed every day that summer from our townhouse in south Arlington to north Arlington to west Arlington then back home every day that summer. It was maybe about a 40-mile trek round trip--seemed like much further in the summer heat — all to get my driver’s license so I could drive and move out of the house.
As for school, my Dad’s only philosophy was I either had to work or go to school, so I dropped out of school during the first semester of 10th grade. Yep, that’s right I only graduated the ninth grade. I later worked hard and obtained my GED so that I could join the Army, but that’s another story. My dad was a truck driver and was never home during my teen years. I suppose it was a good thing. My older brother and I were the cliché children whose parents were never home so we could throw parties and be the wild child of our peers. I would have traded it in a heartbeat for a Dad who cared.
So, my plans were laid, and I got out of that house and away from a Dad who couldn’t care less about his son much less teach him how to be a proper man.
I finally decided to write about a small portion of my childhood and misspent youth so that maybe a Dad might read this and wake up and realize that a son needs a Father to show him the way.
Even if you’re not a Father and you know of a boy who does not have a Father you could play a crucial role in that boy’s life by stepping up and mentoring him, teach him, mold him, teach him how to be a man or just listen to what he has to say in times of trouble. My Wife’s Father Park Adair has been more of a Father to me than my dad ever was. If you happen to meet him, shake his hand with respect, and know he is a good man.
In the end, I made peace with my dad after many years of hate because as a Christian, it is my duty to love my Father and Mother and not to hate. The last year of his life, I spent time with him helping him around his property with this and that. Cleaning his bird coops and helping with a roof of his beloved pigeons. He died later that year from complications from colon cancer. I cherish that final year and am thankful I got those precious few months to build that bridge and forgive.
I later found out my dad use to get chained up in a shed from his Father and beaten with a chain. Behavior is taught and learned through our parents.
This is Will B. saying break the chains. Love and forgive while you still can.