They thought that only at the end of his life did he suffer for the pain he had caused, but being misunderstood and failing to understand why, caused him a lifetime of grief and ever more irrational outbursts.
He would get treatment now – if he asked for it.
‘Outbursts?’ friends would ask. ‘Treatment?’
For them he was the funny man, always ready with a quip and a hail-fellow-well-met greeting. ‘Grief? What grief?’ they asked. ‘He’s a treasure!’
The family knew he was the treasure to fear. An indiscreet thought could tip him into a screaming beast capable of much harm, for he could read faces and detect the sly smirk of disagreement.
Boys naturally challenge fathers and the fractures opened by direct teenage opposition to his will, caused the plate-throwing, the broken panes for breakfast. They learned to dodge, leaving gashes in the woodwork, and became skilled glaziers, so that harmony could return when he did. That way, no one was hurt – physically.
Sometimes there was no resolution so after the initial rage, came the days, even weeks of the silent treatment. He knew he was stronger, and after all, his son had cut his tomato the wrong way. That had to be punished, didn’t it?
We call such behaviour, abuse, or a narcissistic personality disorder, now. His family didn’t know that and suffered, as he suffered after the moods had passed and he had time to reflect on what could have been, had he taken better aim with that plate or if the tea had still been hot. And now they carry the burden of not having helped him, or their mother, who withstood the bulk of the anger. So the blame game wends its weary way through the generations.
As the spark of life grew dim in his eyes, he tried to talk about it.
Why did he bother to discuss the past when he already knew the truth?
Because he wanted absolution, to hear it hadn’t mattered, that the hours of sobbing after the storm had been forgiven. Forgiven, yes! But forgotten? It’s hard to forget the tears that had seemed to increase his sense of satisfaction, to strengthen his will to rule, no matter what.
The boys became the stronger and chose to remain silent, ignoring his request for understanding. Ignoring his plea was not the greatest punishment, and they knew it, but, it was some kind of payback.
Had he heard his wife upon his death, after 60 years of marriage, he might have been saddened – or was it all about power and he would have worn a smile of success. Who knows?
‘I don’t have to be afraid anymore,’ was all she said when he stopped breathing. Yet she knew he hadn’t been a bad man, had worked tirelessly for his family, supported them, made their dreams come true. It was just the troughs and whenever he came out of them, he was a rediscovered treasure.
The boys said the peaks only served to increase the fear of the next trough. Tiptoe round issues and avoid his next rage, was the maxim. Forgiving him didn’t remove the sense of fear, engrained over decades, which meant forgetting, was never an option.
Did he choose the enduring memory that he left or was it beyond his control? Not even he could answer that one.
Here is the thing.
Writing is supposed to be cathartic. In fact, writing this blog about a family known to me, has merely pointed out the missed opportunities to get the father treatment and save the mother decades of misery. Now it is too late. Father and mother are dead, after years of living in their own separate hells and the sons rue the missed opportunities to make an intervention.
There are no winners, when it comes to domestic abuse or mental health issues. Get help today?
The graphic above gives advice for those in fear of retribution. What about the ones just in fear of what might happen next but have no marks to show?
Courtesy of ᴍᴏʀɢᴀɴ ɪɴᴄᴏɢɴɪᴛᴏ MISS VIRTUAL♛ WORLD 2020