After my dad died, friends asked if I was going to keep the house and move in and, in fact, a few were begging me. I thought about it and that is actually one reason I was standing there in the empty house after we had an estate sale. It was stripped clean and I still could not stand to be there. I tried. I tried to “unfeel” the house which was never a home
Standing in his house – the house where I lived from age seven to age 16 – feeling dirty and having trouble breathing because I thought the walls were going to crush me. I could hear the screaming and yelling; I could feel the emotional, mental and physical pain; I could hear the whispered cries of a small terrified child hiding under the covers. The child was me. I could feel the chains of my childhood restricting any childish glee that might try to sneak out of me. I could hear, and feel, the belt repeatedly slapping my naked body for as many years as I lived there. I could feel my dad’s stare raising the hair on the back of my neck as he patiently waited for me to make a mistake. Children were not tolerated in his house. In the silence of that moment, I could hear the sound of my silent childhood, save for the reprimands and the arguing adults.
He was gone, but his memories would live forever.
I was able in the end of his life to show up as a loving daughter. I had forgiven him, and I had made amends to him years before for whatever pain I may have cause him. In the last three months of his life, I was able to spoon feed his dinner to him every single night as he lay in the nursing home, no longer able to get up. No longer able to pull out any more sadistic tricks. It was over. I was so grateful to be able to serve him with love in my heart at the end. I will, of course, always remember on one of those nights, he looked up at me and said, “You turned out to be a pretty good kid after all.”