The Fulcrum

*Edit in July 2012: This is the only surviving entry from my old blog. I felt it was important to leave this one up. I did take a few bits out here and there for my own reasons.*

When I was a very little girl, we moved around from place to place a lot. We didn’t really stay anywhere for very long until I was about 7. We then began renting a farm on this lovely patch of back hill country. We stayed there for nearly 5 years. It was beautiful, it was magical and it is the scene of my earliest memories of the traces of things to come, good and bad. Whatever is in my brain wasn’t always bad. I don’t have very many early bad memories about it. That will be more detailed later as you learn more about me.

My daddy worked with his hands, enjoyed a hard days work, cigarettes and coffee. He loved working his friends farm, but had a hard time keeping down a steady 9-5 type job. My mom was the main source of income doing odd factory work to keep us afloat, and daddy was home with us most of the time. From my memory I know he loved music and being outside. He would take us out in the ATV’s and on the tractor all the time. He loved to hunt, and since we were poor dinner was often either from our own little farm or from what he had shot that day. Usually rabbit, but on occasion a nice bit of venison sat on the table. We didn’t usually slaughter our farm animals, as we didn’t have many, but on one occasion I remember Bob the cow who I had named and grown attached to even though I was told not to. Even as a child I spent more time with animals then people, as our closest neighbors (other than the older boys who lived a quick ATV ride away) were over 15 miles away. I remember asking my daddy what to name the new male calf and he told me to name it Dinner. I didn’t get the joke at the time, but after Bob had studded our heifers he was gone and our freezer was suddenly packed with bull meat. I did not eat any of Bob that I know of. I remember another time very vividly where we had an old lame horse, a giant in my mind, but i don’t recall the breed or even the name of the animal. I remember daddy grabbing one of his large collection of shotguns and telling me to stay in the house no matter what. I, of course, snuck out and crept around the barn to see what was going on. Everybody was standing around this once giant animal, who was laying on the ground and even from my distance I could hear its labored breaths knew its pain. The shot rang out and I watched the horse go from suffering beast, to a still heap in the dirt. I was horrified, but fascinated. I don’t remember what I was thinking, or what came directly after that. I just remember my daddy turning around after it was over and looking at me, and I saw the pain in his face over what he had had to do. My dad was very reverent of beasts, often telling me the animals we eat give us life and we should be grateful. He filled my head with the beauty and the wisdom and the horror of nature.

There was one time I was playing in the woods behind our house, like I did every single day of my remembered childhood of the hill, and I saw a coyote coming towards me. I must have been maybe 7 or even 8. Of course, I was very excited, and started walking towards it saying “doggy, here doggy.” We had lots of dogs around, but none like this. My mom was yelling something from the house, but I was too far away to really hear her. Anyway, I wanted to pet the doggy. My dad suddenly came running down the hill with a shotgun in his hands, and I started screaming “don’t hurt the doggy daddy!” The whole time the coyote was still staggering towards me, his mouth drooling and his head lolling. A shot echoed through the hills, and the coyote ran off. My dad scooped me up and carried me into the house crying. I was terrified he had hit the doggy. Dad and his friends who were visiting went off with guns to find the coyote. They didn’t find him that day, but a few days later half buried in the swamp at the foot of the hills. The vet test confirmed he was rabid, and that my dad had not hit him with a bullet.

There was one time, in the thick of winter when the snow is piled up for feet and feet and feet I remember bundling up and just me and daddy went out on the three-wheeler together. We went through our property enjoying the rare sunshine against the white snow. We started to head up the pipeline at the edge of our property, a very steep incline. If you have ever ridden or seen a three-wheeler you know that they are very back heavy, and tip easily. I felt like I was holding on for dear life, but I wasn’t really scared. Daddy told me we were going to make it to the top, and even though I felt like we were going to topple backwards, I trusted him and we didn’t. We made it to the top, a place on our property I had never been before, and it was a beautiful flat man-made lake that was completely frozen solid. It was breath taking in the glare of a winter sun. We must have played all day out there.

My daddy was a wonderful, caring and loving dad. He took wonderful care of us, and we all felt how much he loved us. But he had a temper too, mom says that’s where my temper comes from. I have no memories of him ever directing that temper towards us, but I have a few memories of him aiming it at mom. Once he got so angry he started throwing things all over the house, he broke a picture frame on the wall and stomped around. Mom grabbed us and we all sat on the bed in our room huddled together on the bed while he stomped through the house breaking things. We didn’t come out until we heard the door slam and it got quiet. That is the only time I remember him being so violent in front of us. Usually we were told to go outside and play and we would hear yelling through the house. Or, on a few occasions I would wake up and mom would be crying and dad would be speaking in angry hushed tones. I don’t remember what they fought about. I asked mom once, she said mostly money issues and how he never could hold down a steady job. Once I remember him yelling “there’s someone else isn’t there?” and just the once I remember him saying “tell them who their real father is!” Mom said he used to have all kinds of paranoid thoughts like that sometimes. I’ve never told my mom this, but my temper is just as bad, and from the pieces I’ve gathered about his darker self, my old paranoia could rival my dads any day.

He didn’t like people, he hated the government. He had his close group of friends and that was about it. He liked living “away from it all.” He hated certain people who lived near us. They used to feud like crazy. I don’t know exactly why. Mom doesn’t talk about certain things.

One sunny day in early summer, I woke up and I didn’t quite feel right. I felt this knot in my stomach. Mom announced we were going to gramma and grampa’s and that was final. I didn’t want to go. I even tried holding onto the bunk bed post and not letting go. Mom and dad finally pried me off, and after much fuss, we were ready to go. Daddy gave me a hug, told me he was staying home, told me to be good at grampa’s house. I think he gave me a kiss. He smiled and looked happy.We backed up to turn around, he waved and watched us go. I watched him watch us, we turned and drove out of sight.

At grampa’s house, as the hours passed, people started showing up. An aunt here, a cousin there. More and more. Then a few police officers. We were told, just sit and watch your cartoons kids, but we could hear little snippets; “he did what” “standoff” “too dangerous” “that’s not him.” We could see everyone getting worked up and rushing around busily. It was hard to just sit and watch cartoons. Every time we went into a room with adults, someone would rush over and shoo us back into the living room.

The six o’clock news was about to start. Grampa sat me down in his lap, and told me to pay really close attention to the T.V. The news reporter showed my road, my driveway. She was standing at the bottom of our hill. There were cuts showing the house from a helicopter camera. The reporter was talking about the “militia man” who was in standoff with police after shooting a neighbor. The reporter was said this local was still locked in the house, shooting at any police who came near. They interviewed my dads friend, he said he didn’t know what was wrong, just that he was there to help and talked about what a good man and father my dad was. Click, the TV went off, that was it. I realized at that point I hadn’t seen my mom in hours.

Everyone was staring at me. It was very quiet. Grampa asked if I had any questions. I didn’t know what to say. I’m not sure what happened after that. My next memory we are at my Godmothers house, I am next door playing with another little girl in her playhouse. My mom calls for me, I run over and look back for my friend. She wasn’t in the house anymore. I don’t see anyone else but me and my mom. We went into the garage. Mom squatted down and looked me in the eye and said “your dad has died.” I laughed. I told her not to tell stupid jokes. Her eyes teared up and she looked away. I asked how, she said its complicated. I don’t remember anymore of that day.

My next memory I am at the funeral sitting on a comfortable couch at the front of the room. The couch is white (or maybe dark green) with deep dark wood edges, it was very lovely. I’m in front of everybody with my two best friends sitting next to me. My gramma is crying. My cousin is crying. My mom is stone faced. My grampa is very close to tears. The woman is talking about my dad, there are pictures everywhere and no body. I don’t remember what she said. I’m outside now, playing on the brick steps. Mom is talking to people. My two friends are watching me. I am trying to step in the pattern of the bricks. There’s a small tree next to me that I spin around. It’s time to go.

It’s sometime later, I don’t know when. My from that point, until I was about 15, my memory is still mostly blank and in my head time jumps around a lot but there are huge gaps missing. At this point, it’s probably been a few months, in my head it seems as though it was the same week. We are still unpacking in the new one story, two bedroom house we are renting. We had to sell most of what we owned, and gave up the house of the hill. We lost all our animals, save one dog and one cat. My dog seems unhappy in the little inner city fenced in yard. She misses the freedom of the hills, so do I. Everything we own has pink pepper spray dots all over it, so we have to wash everything. Unpacking books, i accidentally rubbed my eyes and got the pepper spray in them, mom had to flush my eyes out.  My moms new boyfriend is unpacking his things too. I hate him already. I don’t remember meeting him, my first memory of him is him laughing and telling me to stop rubbing my eyes or they will just keep getting pepper spray in them. I already wish he would die and he hasn’t even shown his true colors yet. But that’s a whole other blog in itself.

The night of the standoff with the police, my dad went what I can only describe as insane. He wrote lyrics and strange poems, drew drawings and left a specific page open to the bible. I must have read those two pages over and over, hoping for an answer that I still have never found. At some point in the night, he put one of his many guns to his head, and committed suicide. My father willfully committed suicide on this day, fifteen years ago. When people ask, I don’t tell them how he died, I just say he was shot and leave it and they assume he was military or police or something and got killed in duty. NO. My father decided not to go on living and shot himself in the head. The police threw in the cans of pepper spray before entering the house. The media went crazy over the next few weeks, printing all kinds of made up tripe about him, never really pinning down who he really was.

It was also after this the nightmares about the house started. A place where it’s always dark and thundering, the house looms up on the hill. It’s in disrepair, full of holes and falling apart. There’s a light on in the back room. I walk inside and it’s always cold. I walk in the backroom and sit on the washing machine and watch my daddy scribbling and doodling on a sheet of paper. I watch it get faster and faster, I watch him cry. I try to talk to him, to tell him I am right their and to cheer up. I am always a child in my nightmare. I watch him pick up his gun, I start screaming and screaming No Daddy NO! Please Don’t Do It! In my nightmare, just like in real life, he never listens. He looks at me. In my nightmare at this point he always turns and looks right at me. I watch him put the gun in his mouth and then pull the trigger anyway with his eyes locked on mine. I watch him twitch for a while and bleed and then everything is quiet and I always wake up. I have had the same nightmare for the past fifteen years, although I only get it maybe once or twice a year now.

I don’t think I will ever have a real answer for why he just couldn’t have stayed alive. Even after all this time, I have coped with it rather well I think. I lead a mostly normal life. But this even it so etched on my soul I don’t think I will ever really be free from it. Like a big deep purple scar that people ask you about and you make up some half truth just to get them off you back.

I think my dad was crazy a little. But he was also a kind and generous man. He was the kind of father every little girl wants, and my childhood couldn’t have been happier or full of more love. My daddy enjoyed the simple things in life, a good tune on the radio, the comfort of a cigarette, watching a little TV before bed with the family, mudd’in with his friends and his children. He was a good honest man. I really do love him still and think of him almost every day.

Where ever you are now, I miss you daddy.

-Tempus in tempore-

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