Friday, August 17th, 2012 – The Day He Died
Friday, August 17th, 2012 – I’m told that’s the day you died.
You were my birth father, the man who contributed the sperm
That began my life and the lives of seven other precious babies
Babies who survived to adulthood through no nurturing from you,
Through no support, no loving touch or word or deed — eight
Innocent souls you abused and then threw away; your children.
We who survived in our own broken fashion, in spite of you.
What is your legacy— what did you leave us, your children, to
Remember you by?
Memories; memories no child should grow up remembering.
Being grateful there was peanut butter in the house so that
We could eat that day; rationed to make a small spoonful
A meal. Finding a few crackers made a wonderful dessert.
To this day, we all think that we’re starving if there’s no
Peanut butter in our cupboard, even when we have food
In our pantries and our stomachs are full.
You provided for us so well that hunger taught our oldest
Brother to steal apples, and food from the store; so that on
A good day we had something to take to school for lunch—
What a wonderful gift to give your little boy, your son, trying
Valiantly to take care of his siblings! But I doubt you were
Thinking of that as you opened each fresh can of beer.
Memories of shoes, wondering if they were indeed a blessing,
when sissy’s were so small they filled with her blood so she
Couldn’t walk; when our little child feet became deformed and
Too painful to bear even our own slight weight; and yet we
Didn’t dare remove them and walk barefoot, in case we couldn’t
Put them back on— sure excuse for swift and brutal punishment.
Huddled in the one bedroom we all shared, not daring to make a
Sound; silent anguish vibrating with each crash from downstairs
Every scream as flesh pounded flesh echoing in our young ears
Even through hands clapped tightly over them to muffle the cries.
Waiting in terror, dreading the inevitable footsteps on the stairs,
The ensuing quiet almost more fearful than the sounds of violence.
Memories of innocence lost; ripped from our souls and bodies
That you stole in your twisted lust and desire for domination;
Uncaring of which of your children would be your next unwilling
Plaything. Did you delight in your perverted cruelty as you ravished
Your sons and daughters? Or was your alcoholic haze so complete
And consuming that you felt justified in stealing your sick pleasure?
And then you left, abandoned those you used and abused. I heard you
Began a new life elsewhere— leaving eight small children with a
Mother filled with anguish and hatred— for you and for her children.
Being deaf and unable to communicate might have garnered some
Genuine sympathy, had she not been as physically abusive as you.
Did you teach her that? To resent her own children enough to
Throw them down the stairs— to vent her rage and frustrations on us?
They say you had Alzheimers, which is what finally ended your
Life. I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve seen the ravages of that disease
First hand, and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I guess in your case
It may have been a blessing— erasing your memories of what
You did with your life; the pain you caused your children. Too
Bad it couldn’t erase ours as well. I’m told you died alone; I’m
Sorry to hear that too, although it really doesn’t surprise me.
Please don’t watch over me from wherever you are. I have enough
Loving spirits who are doing that already— and frankly, all things
Considered, it would just be creepy to think you’re seeping back
Into my life that way. All I wish for is that you somehow find the
Peace you never received here on earth; that you finally learn all
The things you never learned while you were here, and that you
Have regrets for all that could have been if you had chosen to live
Your life differently. Perhaps now you can weep for your children.
I’m sure there must have been a time in your life when you had
Hopes and dreams just like we all do. I’m sorry that whatever
They were, they didn’t work out. And in the end, I do thank you
For the fact that I was born— and that I have brothers and sisters
Whom I love dearly. Even though our siblings were torn from each
Other as children, we did finally get to meet again in our lifetimes—
We don’t have to die thinking that we’re all alone, lost to each other.
That is the one legacy that I will always treasure. Rest in peace.
~ Julie Catherine Edwards © 2012
Read Elia Wise’s Poem: For Children Who Were Broken