My Mental Illness Recovery Story,  Chapter 17

Visits With Dad

Ever since the divorce of my real parents when I was two, I normally visited Dad once a year around Christmas. Infrequent visits like these, hardly gave me and Dad an opportunity to interpersonally grow together. It made strangers out of family, which until the last couple of years, seemed like the ideal situation. However, in spite of Leonard’s vices and poor past treatment of me, I still love my father.

Most of what I know about my father is what I heard from other family members. For example, mom told me that Dad spent a year in prison for selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent. He, also, according to her, “made only one child support payment of $45 his entire life.”

Six years ago, when I was 34, Dad’s mom told me that “my father and his separated wife were members of an anti-government state militia, and that I should be careful in going in his garage alone, because they were weapons hidden in there.” Obviously, this statement is only based upon the comments of another. However, during that time period, I heard my dad’s woman say some “radical” comments in reference to the “government”.

When you hear “crazy” statements like these of your father, and since you see him but once a year, there become many question marks and awkwardness in trying figure out who your dad really is. Here, though, is my personal experiences I remember having with Dad:

During my early years as a child, I was always very scared when around him. Part of me dreaded seeing, while another part of me, really wanted to, as I hoped to experience love, acceptance, and affection from my father.

When I was around six years old, he gave me a small black comb for a Christmas gift. Unfortunately, I lost it. Getting real mad, Leonard used a dog leash to whip me in front of the family.

On a few Christmas’s, Leonard would tell me “he was going to pick me in the morning for a visit.” I would wait all morning and all day for him to come, and then he would call at night, making an excuse why he could not see me then.

When I was about fourteen, Butch showed me a Harley Davidson motorcycle, telling me “ this was my Christmas gift.” But then less than a minute later, he said, “Wait a minute! That motorcycle is too big for you to ride. I guess I will keep it myself.” I got nothing for Christmas that year.

The next year, my dad got me a Honda 200 SX four-wheeler, in which I really enjoyed playing with all the time. I had it for about three or four years, until I sold it to help purchase an automobile. What strongly influenced my decision to sell it was when Butch wanted it back, to give to me half- brother.

One year dad gave my mom’s mother a box of full orange juice cartons for Christmas. Years later, he bought her a squirrel feeder.

During another visit, Leonard was bragging to me that “my half-sister got into trouble with the law for car-jacking when she was fourteen”. I don’t know why my father thought that it was funny.

About four years ago, my black Bonneville had a problem with the defrost system. While it was defrosting the ice off of my windshield, my dad had a stupid idea. He talked me into, having me leave the car running (it was in the driveway of his mother’s house), while he took me in his truck for a drive to his house, which was about three miles away. Wanting to show me his garage, I told him, “I didn’t want my car just sit there and just run”. He responded to that comment, by saying, “What are you worried about, gas prices?” So that Bonneville kept on using gas until we got back to grandmother’s house about forty minutes later.

During the same trip, a cop car passed us, heading the opposite direction. Dad said something like this? “Those cops, why cannot cops leave people like me alone. They are like vultures, flying from above, getting in people’s way. People cannot get an honest break because of them. How are people supposed to earn a living with them around?”

Two years ago, Dad talks me into giving him a ride to the post office. The whole trip he complains about me driving my car too slow. We stop at a bank and he tells me to leave the car running, and that he’ll be out of the bank in a hurry. I start to wonder while he is in there, if he is going to rob the bank, or something, and if I am going to jail with him, if we get caught. I started to get real nervous of what was going to happen next as I was unsure what to do. Since I thought it was real stupid just to leave the car running, I turned off the ignition. He comes out, giving me a “turn the key” motion with his wrist, and then asks why I didn’t leave the car running as we left.

The same day, at his house, Butch shows me his bedroom. Inside the room, was a car motor – which I don’t know how he got in there – on a rack, with a bunch of tools and parts on the floor. I asked him “what’s up?”, and he tells me that “it’s too cold to work on his truck engine in the garage, so he works on it in his bedroom.”

In spite of all these shortcomings, I love my biological father. About four years ago, he expressed to me, his regrets of how he made a mess of my life. I told him: “I forgive him, and I love him.”

During the last couple Christmases, we spent quality time watching DVDs. It was a wonderful experience that I will always remember.

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