That Is Not The Kind of Man He WAS

Just recently I was talking with one of my sisters. She is one of the smartest people I know. We have grown apart over the years but there is a deep love there. The thing is a lot of relating to anyone comes down to our tactile senses. We have lived at a long distance from one another for better than half our lives now.

We grew up with a very unstable parent, my Father. He was abusive in every way, you might imagine. From a very early age I knew he was not to be trusted. Perhaps I always knew. As I grew up he only got worse.  He was my Father and in those very sparse moments when he was loving, clear and present & the danger was at bay, we all knew it would not last. He could take the happiest situation and ruin it for everyone.

So it was the second year of my little league base-ball career and our team won second place for the season. For the pee wee’s that was a very big deal. As you might guess my Father never and I mean never came to see me play in one game ever, we pee wee Cubs played in. I was 8 years old and even though we lost the big game we still were winners it was great. I remember that feeling of not wanting to go home afterwards, it was a dreadful feeling. Going home meant that I would have to put on a different kind of uniform and I wanted to run away so badly but I could not. That was & is not the kind of person I am.

After each little league season there was a banquet for all the teams. It was a night of awards and food, friends, team mates & coaches… This years special guest speaker was to be Bucky Dent, who at the time was a rising star in the pro’s. That was also a very big deal. This years banquet would be held at the Chateau Bouche, It sounded so grand at the time. How exciting, a big night and I was bringing home a trophy, my first ever.

The end of the little league season meant that summer break was almost over and in a few weeks we would go back to school. The banquet wouldn’t come until the end of September. So there was much anticipation of the night to come, much like the holiday season and new years eve or an upcoming birthday… I remember that so well. Just one little hitch, you had to go to the banquet with a parent.

I remember talking with my Mom and asking her to go with me. She would say things like; we will see, that is several weeks away… but don’t worry you will get to go, I promise. She knew how much it meant to me and I believe she wanted my Father to go with me, to share that night with me as a Dad should do, exactly this type of thing with a son. As the weeks went by and the school year was well under way, the banquet was now this week. The subject of who would take me to the big event became a contentious debate as my Mom and Father bickered over why my father was the one who had to go. I did not want him to go & I was not happy with that internal conflict because a lot of Dads would be there. I already knew that my Father was not that kind of Dad. He did not want to go and he made no secret of it. My mom, bless her noble effort, made sure he did. I would have to live with the highs and lows of that night as it was about me and my little league team mates… So the day came and we prepared to go. On the drive over in the car to the banquet, my Father had a few things to say to me. He said this:

“Now I want you to listen to me. I know this is important to you but I have other things I need to do. So as soon as you get your trophy we have to go. I don’t want you running off or keeping me looking for you. Get your award so I can do what I have to do. OK? Yes Dad OK”.

As you all know the night schedule of events was all planed out. First name tags and table assignments, a bit of a reception for all players, coaches & parents… then dinner. After all that the award ceremony  and then the guest speaker, Bucky Dent . There would be nothing quick about it. I remember thinking as I was there that the old man was going to be a real drag and he would be uncomfortable… I found that strangely amusing & to watch him navigate a social event for the first time was interesting. He sat next to me pensive & tense like a fish out of water. Asking other dads; how long do these things last?… The looks on the other Dads faces has never left my memory, I was ashamed. He didn’t get it, I did.

Dinner was served. and the noise of the room was a new experience for me. It was exciting, I was loving it. It was all about us team mates we were the center of the world that night. As we ate dinner my Father mellowed a bit and things calmed for him some, as the other Dads engaged him in conversation… Of course he checked his watch and fidgeted uncomfortably. As dinner ended and the kids were all running about talking… my Father would not let me leave the table. Until a team-mate came up to me and pulled me away. Thank God, I thought. I think he actually thought that if I sat there the event would move more swiftly or he was so uncomfortable that he didn’t want me to leave his side. I don’t know.

Up on the stage, were all the little league managers, officials, sponsors & Bucky Dent. They all sat at their tables with a podium in the middle. We players were eying Bucky Dent and asking; do you think we will get to meet him?… What can I tell you, we were kids doing what kids do. Soon enough, the spoon and glass ringing called to attention  and a voice came over the PA. “Will everyone take their seats we are going to start the award ceremony” My God, I didn’t want to sit with him but there he was, waving me back to the table. At that moment It really did not matter I was gonna get my trophy.

You all know how this works. The head of the league acknowledges all the teams and players efforts for the season and the they start with the third place awards and the teams MVP trophies. Of course they call player by player & so on. It took about 20 minutes. Now it was time for the second place team and my Father was chomping at the bit… I don’t believe he enjoyed himself at all, not even for me. I was the second to the last player called because my last name begins with a “S”. Not my fault Old man that’s on you. When they called my name I was one big smile and I believe that was the first time I ever strutted. I climbed the stage and my coach shook my hand… Then I received my trophy. I held it over my head in my fist and I was beyond my need of my Fathers approval. I strutted slowly back to my table and sat down as friends and parents congratulated & welcomed me back to the table.

They started the first place awards and I remember thinking & looking at my trophy. Time was at a near stand still for me. My Father put his hand on my shoulder, stood up and whispered in my ear; “we got to go, take your trophy and let’s go” I looked up at him as if to say, no but another Dad said to him; ” Bill, the ceremony isn’t over yet and the kids haven’t heard Bucky Dent speak yet. Can’t what ever you have to do wait?” I looked at my Father, but I didn’t move. He was the only one standing, now people were looking. He sat back down, looked at his watch as if he really had to go, but he didn’t. He was angry and I knew it, now he was stealing my joy in that moment. I had defied him, and it was scary for me but I had my trophy.

Bucky Dent was called to the podium. He gave his congratulations and motivational speech.  I was riveted, we all were. After that he signed autograph’s I had him sign my trophy. One of the other parents took Bill aside because  he was becoming agitated with me taking so long. I don’t know what that man said to him but my father was not happy. He wasn’t yelling but I could tell that he wanted to. I went back to the table and sat with my friends as my Father and this other parent stood at the bar in tense conversation.

As everyone was leaving I was the only one sitting at the table now. I felt like I was a spec of dust falling. I started to walk over to them but Bill waved me off, I sat back down. The staff was clearing tables… Even Bucky Dent had left and Bill was now surrounded by a few other men. I was beside myself as I tried to hear what they were saying. All I heard was; “that is your son Bill…” they tried to keep me from hearing them. I knew what was going on but that didn’t help any. We were asked to leave the room as they were done for the night. Then we left.

Nothing those men said made a difference, my Father yelled at me on the way home. It doesn’t matter what he said it was cruel and selfish and he knew I knew that. I said nothing and I sat there looking at my trophy trying to remain proud of it. That is when he said to me for the first time, this: ” I don’t care what other parents do, that is not the kind of man I am” I hated him for that.

My Father, Bill, went on to abuse and alienate me further as well as every person that ever loved him. He died two weeks ago alone, without so much as a redeeming word, apology  or request for forgiveness. He said nothing, added nothing to my life and you know what, I am relieved he is gone from the world. Perhaps my Siblings and I can let the pain and abuse go now, I hope so.

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment