Arriving home and seeing my mother’s care still absent, I breathed a sigh of relief.
We had returned home before her.
I greatly doubted she had seen me, and my father in the crowd of onlookers.
My mother arrived home and my father set out to attend one of the many farm tasks awaiting his attention–seeing to the livestock, sorting out grain, chopping wood, etc.
My mother set about with her weekend cleaning tasks. After mopping the kitchen floor, she put on her coat and went out onto the garage as she always did and began sweeping.
I stepped outside with the intention of going to the woods with my dog Benji.
Before I cleared the garage she spoke.
“You think I didn’t see you.”
I stopped walking.
My mother continued sweeping the garage, never looked up.
“You and your father,” she said.
I swallowed hard, breathed in.
“I give you a punishment and he takes it away.”
I did not hear my mother speak to my father about having taken me to the parade.
There had been quiet in the house after she arrived.
She stopped sweeping and looked to me. “Your father saved you this time,” my mother said. “But it won’t always be this way. One day it’s going to be you and me. And then we’ll see what happens.”
My mother’s words shook me, left me afraid.
I could not imagine life without my father, not because he saved me from her and her punishments. Taking me to the Christmas Parade in spite of her refusal to take me had been an exception to the rule.
Not that my father agreed with her behavior, he often chided her to calm down. This was the first time he had openly defied her admonishment.
But even in this being so, his lack of intervention concerning my mother’s abusive behavior, I felt certain of my father’s love for me. Perhaps it was because he did not hit me.
He did not speak to me harshly. The act of taking me to the Christmas Parade evidenced what I had felt all along.
Considering a life without him cast a sense of doom and lent hopelessness to an situation lacking hope and holding little possibility of improvement.