I’ve often said that you were just like my ex in that regard, mom. It turned out that I was more than right, for even she never attempted such backhanded excuses (masquerading as apologies) as you…
“I’m sorry if you got your feelings hurt.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
You can’t slap your son and then pretend it’s his fault for “making you do it”. You can’t fake-excuse and guilt-trip your way out of all worldly culpability, mom. It doesn’t work that way. And it won’t work this time, either. You’ve had ample opportunity during these last long weeks to honestly apologize for what you’ve done, and all you’ve managed were craven appeals to what you supposed was my greed, and a few emaciated “I love you”s.
You should be well aware that an “I love you” without a genuine show of charitable love to back it up is as worthless as a currency not backed by gold. Doing what you think is best is not a show of charity to another person. It’s a show of arrogant, Narcissistic megalomania, the like of which is only rivaled by straight legislators who piously think they know what should be allowed in the privacy of a gay couple’s bedroom.
If you don’t know what love is, then saying “I love you” is about as useful as hunting grizzly bears with a BB gun. The point, mom, is that you should’ve said “I’m sorry”… and meant it.
You know what you did that day when you and your brother and that moronic country clod of a boyfriend of yours colluded to have an innocent man taken away in chains? You robbed that innocent man of his freedom, putting me in a position where I’d have to barter my own American second amendment rights away in order to be set free! Think about that, you three, if you can hear me from your lofty tower of judgment.
You paunchy suburbanites, who have never fought for your own freedoms, never served your country, never picked up arms for it, and never left your loved ones at home with the very real fear that you may never see them again… you conspired to take that same freedom from a United States veteran who actually did fight for them!
Think about that every time you freely leave your house, mom.
Think about that every time you pick up a hunting rifle, uncle.
Think about that every time you walk on American soil, fat bumpkin.
May the thought of you three’s despicable, cowardly act haunt you until the day you die, and may the world see you for the disgusting, unrepentant villains that you are.
Speaking of which, I should probably add in fact here what I only had license in your presence to hint at (so long as you begrudgingly supplied me with shelter)… having lived through the same power-grabbing and mental terrorism from my ex as dad had to live through with you, I know without question that it was you who drove him to the vile act that put him in prison. Sure, you didn’t pull the trigger, but you did your damnedest to oil the gun, load it, hand it to him, and convince him to fire.
Now, I know dad is no saint. As a father, you’re only ever slightly better than your dad was before you (given a more current education) once you’re able to learn from (vice emulate) his mistakes. Only every so often does one go above-and-beyond to purify the fatherly waters (as I did), but I digress. The point is, yeah – he had his faults. No question.
But, like a crack in a sidewalk may be enlarged to a veritable crevasse over a lifetime of icy waters therein, so may the flaws in a granite man’s character be exploited by the unforgiving nature of a frigid harridan of a wife.
You see, readers, my dad was a goofy looking kid – not even the eldest out of a group of five siblings. He was never incredibly popular, and though he had a sweet mother (by most accounts), his father’s nature was hard and distant – as was most people’s whose childhood passed through The Great Depression. With no comparable female affection given him in his teen years, he found his ardor for women through the filter of some Playboy magazines he found whilst hauling away a neighbor’s old newspapers for him.
Like the succor most men find in porn (in any form), these were the most beautiful specimens of the vaunted female figure that he had ever laid eyes on. And unlike the girls at school, they were fully matured, lovely, graceful, delicate… they never made fun of him, they were always available, always in the mood, never needed to be tended to (sexually or otherwise), and never cried foul when you turned the page from one to the next. Sure – it was a quick electric heater, rather than a full, smoky campfire (that you’d have to build and prepare) – but to a young man that knew little to no warmth in his life, it was a godsend. It stuns me to think how much alike we were. His entire sexual history consisted of one girl in the service before my mom. And like me, he would’ve been better off to have stayed with her.
On a personal note: Shannon Jones of Charleston, South Carolina – I’ve never known a greater love in my life (like a man has for a woman) than yours. The one book I ever wrote was dedicated to you, as my heart is to that memory. And you know what? You and Ann were right – my marriage did last (semi-happily) for only two years. Oh, I suffered through five more before I admitted it, but it was over after two. The only love I ever knew in it was between myself and my three wonderful children – and by the direction of my vindictive ex, none of them but my son even bear a shred of my name anymore. I should’ve been there with you at that concert that night, and I’ve never forgiven myself for that error. Your heart broke once – mine has broken every day since. Please forgive me, Shannon.
Christianity kept me from my one true love, and it tore my dad away from his teen years’ substitute. When he accepted Christ, he burned an entire duffel bag’s worth of Playboys in the same barrel in Vietnam that they burned feces – just think what a fortune those things would be worth now! And hardly a more ill-fitting requiem could be sung for the material that had provided him with most all of the warmth that he had known in his life.
But oh – Gawd had a plan for what would be brought into his life, though: a feeble substitute (just like my ex was for Shannon) in the form of my mom.
Having been raised with bourgeois tastes, amplified by her own insatiable greed, she made sure that dad’s labors were constant, as she was happy with nothing less than what she perceived to be the absolute best – running through three houses and easily ten cars before my dad’s fall. Yes, mom was the poster child for conspicuous consumption, and she was shameless. If there were Joneses to be kept up with, they’d never hold a candle to her! Of course, my dad’s meager income from sweating bullets for DuPont (all while working to insulate pipes in conditions of constantly over 100°F even in the winter) would never be enough to satisfy my mom’s status-lust, so she added the income of her “job” (mostly sit-down, do-nothing, gab-fest nurse’s work) to the family funds – and always made sure that she had first access to the entire money pot.
Yes, Yahweh’s answer for the needs of my dad’s life was a twisted, painful, and vampiric one – much like all of his answers, incidentally. And once you add to my mom’s greed her childlike tantrums, guilt trips to shield herself from culpability, and frigid, vacillating nature, she didn’t need to be 300lbs. to be unattractive to my dad – though she was that, too. (Oddly enough, my ex mirrored my mom even more perfectly than I reflected my dad in these regards.)
When you live with an unlovable cold fish, it’s the height of unmitigated selfishness that the fish turn to you and complain that it feels unloved. But that is what my mom constantly said to me – even while she cheated on my dad in prison. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My dad lived a thankless, loveless family life. Though he labored to earn the lion’s share of the money, my mom was the only one with enough energy left at the end of day to go with us to spend it to buy the toys that my brother and I (as most myopic kids) so wanted… and so mom got all the thanks and glory. Dad broke up the fights. Mom would yell, “You wait ’til your daddy gets home!” And though she would also threaten us with the punishment (the belt) that only dad would have to provide, she also venomously played the part of our shelter from him. Did I mention she was a mental terrorist?
I managed to subvert this possible subterfuge in my own marriage by never spanking my kids in anger (or with a belt), always talking to them about what they did wrongly afterwards, making sure they knew that I loved them (with hugs all around), and leaving the room of punishment to play – with never a still-damp eye on them. Of course, my dad’s only example to improve upon was his dad, who would show affection by smacking his grandsons upside the head with a rolled-up newspaper. So when my dad would spank with his belt, hug us, and then say, “All right; get outta here,” it was probably the most benevolent thing he could think of.
My dad lived his life at work and at church attempting desperately to make up for the love and approval he seldom got at home – donating much of his time to helping others, doing chores for our not-yet-but-fast-becoming-“conspicuously consumptionary” Clover Hill Baptist Church, and to writing poetry. He wasn’t superb, but he was better than most poets I’ve run into these days. At any rate, CHBC named him their “poet laureate”, which is silly if you consider (as CHBC hadn’t) that they are not a monarchy or government, but a church. Still, it was a glowing moment, so I didn’t spoil it for my dad.
Even so, his heart ached for the special womanly love that he had not known for so, so long. It was many years after, once I had left home (for the second time) and my brother still tarried there, that the unfathomable – the unthinkable – the unpredictably horrible and vile act that he did happened. I won’t and can’t defend it, as it is unspeakably wretched and depraved, but I will say that I know what hunger and deprivation of love led him to a meal of sewage:
YOURS, mom. You led him there.
You didn’t make him buy the ticket for Satan’s carnival, but you sure as hell drove him there and handed him the money for it!
And I know full well that it takes an incredibly perceptive and brilliant mind to come to this following conclusion, but that’s why I can arrive at it and you can’t. Dad did what he did with that little girl because he was looking to fill a void of love. The place it advanced to was the sick and vomitous depth of child molestation, but he entered that store for candy dots and came out with LSD. Yes, he knew (He had to!) that he was crossing the line when he molested her, and that alone is his fault – and even that alone is enough that I rightly think he should have been put to DEATH for it…
But that doesn’t excuse the years of torture that led him there. Your hands are not white as snow, mother. It was a rotten, wholly inexcusable, putrid sin that he committed – but your legacy of avarice and selfishness led him to the precipice; and I count that as just as wicked.
Add to that sin what you did to me that day weeks ago – as well as the countless times you used my presence in your condo to cover up for the fact that you were behind your closed bedroom door cheating on my imprisoned dad with that white-haired, backwoods imbecile – and your hands are dirtier than dad’s.
Your cheating and scheming has caught up to you as surely and karmically as it caught up to my ex – for this day, you lose a child, too. You had a chance to answer for your sins a long time ago, mom, but that time has passed. I’d look down from my celestial promontory and laugh at the smug supposition that a sinner like yourself could lead a church choir – if I weren’t already filled with sorrowful pity that you blindly consider yourself innocently above reproach.
Your sentence remains: You will never again hear my voice in this world.