It was difficult growing up with you, suddenly realizing that you were not a super-hero. What I remember of the fall of 1975 is my mother crying in the parking lot of The Wooden Nickel. What I wanted was for you to come home or at least to buy me a bag of chips and tell me about the Yankees. I remember thinking you were greater than Santa Claus. I couldn’t understand why my sisters were hiding from you. I remember having contests with my brothers to see who could stay up until you got home. I always won. Some days I was up until noon the next day. I remember being told by my kindergarten teacher that I was so smart because I could count higher than anyone, knew all the states and all the presidents, and could tie my shoes. I proudly told my teacher, “my daddy taught me.” She told me she didn’t know I had a daddy. I remember that real well.
It was difficult loving you, realizing that you couldn’t always love me back. I remember you showing me the names of all my Virginia relatives in your C and P telephone book and letting me dial the phone. I remember you throwing a matress out of the second story window of our house because you thought mom had taken us to visit our relatives. I remember how you affectionately called me Billy, after your favorite sister. I remember you telling my mother that Billy belonged in the nut house because she cut a man. I remember being told by my mother that I was your favorite. I told her, “I love my daddy. I’m gonna marry a man just like him.” I remember hearing my mom telling her friend that I was a problem, just like my father.
It was difficult letting go of you. I remember you giving me a Tara doll and telling me that you were always going to take care of me. I remember standing outside of your new house watching my mother as she screamed obscenities while your neighbors stood on their porches. I remember you taking all of us to Buckaroe Beach and buying us pickles from a barrel. I remember we had to run away from you and my older sisters had to call the police. I remember mom receiving a child support check for twelve dollars and telling me that’s what we meant to you. I remember the exact moment I realized that I would never see you again. I wish I had hugged you.
And then you weakened
And then you forgave.
And then you died.