I was born at Southern Regional Hospital in Riverdale, Georgia in 1986. My Mom was 34 and my Daddy was 54 at the time. I was born with one sister and four brothers and I was the last of the litter.
My Daddy was in the United States Army and had played a role in both the Korean and the Vietnam wars. He fell in love with my mom in Vietnam and brought her and her family back here to the US to escape the chaos and live happily. My dad’s side of the family did not approve of his new gook wife and their little mutt children, so we really didn’t know them.
I mostly remember watching Tales From the Crypt on top of my daddy’s beer belly in the dark and he would ask me to grab him a beer from the fridge in the kitchen. As soon as I would step down off of the couch he would warn me about the alligators underneath and I would promptly hop back onto the couch. He would chuckle at me and go get his own beer and sometimes a V8.
When I was five years old, my daddy died of prostate cancer. I remember holding his hand in the hospital at some point and I remember the funeral. It was in some tidy funeral home with nice chairs and I remember it being hot because everyone had paper hand fans that they were waving. I wasn’t sure what we were doing there at first. The whole thing seemed very strange to me and I didn’t understand why my daddy was sleeping in an elaborate box in the middle of everything and people were crying all around the place. The weirdness of the situation made me feel uncomfortable and I had surmised that this would be the last time I saw my Daddy and he was never coming back. At this point, I cried myself to sleep in one of the armchairs and don’t remember much of the rest of the funeral.
Even though I only had a few years with my Daddy, I do have a few memories. I remember once that he’d put hot sauce on my thumb to try and get me to stop sucking on it. I went to the bathroom and washed it off. I remember sitting at a lunch table being good but bored while waiting for him to enroll me in school at James H. Brown Elementary. I remember being spanked with a ping pong paddle a few times when I was bad. I remember having a nightmare that a shadowed figure was chasing after me in a skyscraper and I ran out on the roof and jumped off the building. I was falling and falling to the Earth and yelling for my Daddy the whole time until he actually woke me up. And lastly, I remember being in this old house on our farm in Senoia, and I discovered some old stacks of dusty books in one of the dark abandoned rooms. I went to have a closer look at them and apparently I was bitten by a poisonous spider because the next thing I knew, I was in the main room and my Daddy had made a cut at the wound and was sucking the poison out from my belly. I still have a thin long scar there that reminds me of it.
After my Daddy died, I became immediately depressed. I used to lay my head down in class and cry until my entire desk was wet. I assume this is why I ended up at the counselor’s office almost every day and don’t remember really being in class much. My counselor had a wall full of shelves and cubbies with every kind of toy and board game you could imagine in them. We would play Candyland or something while we talked or if she was busy she would let me sit at a desk outside of her office and draw. I guess the cafeteria ladies felt bad for us and our family because every holiday, they would invite us back into the kitchen and give us large baskets of gifts and we would take them back to our tables and the other kids would ask why we got them. I usually told them that I didn’t know or that the lunch ladies said they came from the Easter bunny or Santa.
(To Be Continued…)
I’m the monkey on my sister’s back. 🙂