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February 21, 2016

Daddy's Going to Kill Mommy

It may surprise you that our mother did not leave our father after my sister’s accusations that he molested her.  As you follow my story you will come to understand that it was not unusual for my mother to stay with our father, even though there was a very good chance he was molesting her daughter.

As a little girl it was difficult to harbor feelings of hate toward my mother because father would do something that would make me feel either sorry for her or terrified of both of them.

It was a few months after she shaved me bald that I felt sorry for her.  There was also fear mixed with my sympathy because when father hurt mother, I was the horrible reminder of what a mistake she had made coming to America with him.

Despite mother complaining to an empty chair about how evil our father was, she always cooked his favorite meals and tried her best to make him happy when he was home. 

Mother was also a perfectionist and was always cleaning.  Everything had to be sparkling clean and in its place.  Father knew how much it bothered her if anything was out of place or if there was food on the table or floor.

When we heard mother and father arguing early in the morning one Saturday, we all knew that it was going to be a bad day and we needed to stay out of their way.

Peter, being the oldest, told Grace and me that we needed to stay in the living room watching television, not too loud, and stay out of mother and father's way.  Peter would occasionally go to the kitchen to get us something to drink or snack on.  For lunch Peter had made us sandwiches.

The fighting that day went in waves.  There would be a lot of screaming and then they would stop for a while and start all over. 

Father had lost the job the shelter had found him repairing televisions, and instead of looking for a new job he was going to the race track.  Mother was screaming that she was tired of his drinking, gambling and cheating.  She told him to either get a job or get out.  Father was screaming that he was doing everything he could and that she was driving him crazy.

Later in the day we thought they had stopped fighting because it was quite for a long time.  I remember Peter saying he would check to see if mother was going to cook dinner when we heard the crash of furniture and mother screaming.

Peter, Grace and I ran toward the dining room and froze when we saw the watermelon that mother had served father was all over the walls.  The dining room table and chairs were toppled over.  Father had mother pinned to the wall and had a long sharp knife to her throat.

He was spewing spit as he screamed inches from mother's face that she was a crazy bitch and she drove him to drink.

I immediately started crying and screaming at my father to stop.  That's when I became aware that both Grace and Peter were crying too.

When father turned his face to look at us, mother spit in his face and told him to either kill her or get out.  Father turned back on my mother and I thought for sure he was going to kill her.  Instead he took the knife and stabbed the wall inches from her face.  He spit in her face and left.

Mother screamed after him that she hated him.  That the worst mistake she ever made was leaving her family and country for the devil.  She screamed out the window that he should never come back.

None of us dared to say anything.  We had never seen her in such a rage.  She ran to her bedroom and came out carrying an armful of father's clothes and belongings and threw them out the window.

We could hear father screaming from the street that she was crazy and she would regret what she was doing.

The following day when we came home from church, mother would find every single piece of clothing she owned had been shredded either with scissors or a knife.  Ironically, this tragedy would result in the only fond memories I had with my mother.
 
One of the dresses mother made
Mother was a professional tailor and made beautiful clothes.  For the next few weeks mother utilized me as her assistant while she made new clothes for herself.  She taught me the basics of sewing and helped me to make my first sundress.

It's the only memory I have of spending anything that resembled quality time with my mother even though we rarely talked while she sewed.  I was close to my mother and helping her, which I think is what most little girls want.  For a moment, I felt like maybe I was special to her, but of course, I was wrong.

The image of our father holding a knife to mother’s throat remains seared in my memory.

Having witnessed such a violent fight between my parents not only scared me, it planted the seeds of fear of men and relationships.  Since there was no public abuse awareness when I was a child, there were no means for me to find out if what was happening within my family was normal or not.

Since I had no other references to what a normal family should be like, I accepted our family life as normal.

It didn't matter that I went to friends’ homes and saw how loving their parents were.  My parents acted normal and loving when there were strangers around too.  In my mind, all parents behaved the way my parents did behind closed doors, and I assumed all men were like my father.

One man I can’t forget is a police officer I met when I was 20.  I was at a nightclub with a friend.  The police used to come to nightclubs to help clear people out after last call.

I finished drinking my beer and a tall handsome police officer with sandy blond hair and beautiful blue eyes walked up to me.  I assumed he was going to tell me and my friend that it was time to go. Instead, he took off his hat and introduced himself.  After a few minutes of chatting he asked if I would be interested in going to dinner with him sometime.

The fear that ran through me when I saw his gun almost paralyzed me.  Having a man put a knife to my throat was one thing, but a gun was a whole different story.  I smiled and said, “I’m sorry.  No.”

He looked disappointed, put his hat back on and smiled and said it was okay.  Even though I had rejected his offer, he gave me his arm to hold as he walked me and my friend to her car.

My friend asked why I turned him down.  I told her I wasn't attracted to him, which was a lie.  I was very attracted to him.

I remember looking after him, wondering if I had made the right decision.  It didn't matter, I had to be careful.  All men were like my father, and that kind of man with a gun was not something I could handle.  If I wanted to die, I could do that myself, but I was trying to live and get better.  I didn't need a gun to the head.

Did mother damaging my mind keep me from having dinner with a man that may have loved me and treated me right?  I don’t know, but the chances are good that the answer is yes.