Scars of My Past(8)

By: D. C. Renee




Fifteen years earlier …

I NEVER KNEW my dad. I just had bits and pieces of fragmented memories. A shadow, a silhouette of a tall man, a strong man, and a happy man filtered through my mind occasionally.

I had memories of a gentleman patting my shoulder, his hand dwarfing my small frame. I had memories of laughter—a deep, rich baritone I hoped I emanated when I grew older. I had memories of kind words; encouraging words filled with phrases such as “good job” or “I’m proud of you,” and even “I love you.”

I was five years old, and I hadn’t had a father since he died when I was three. My mom had tried to sugarcoat it; she’d tried to tell me he was in a deep sleep, and he was up in heaven with God watching over us. I believed her when I was three, I asked her when we could wake him up when I was four, and I finally understood he was dead when I turned five.

A heart attack, I’d heard people whisper. I didn’t know a heart could attack you, and for weeks after his death, I’d pressed my hand to my heart several times a day and asked my own heart not to attack me. I didn’t know how to fight a heart. I didn’t think I wanted to know. I was afraid I’d lose as my father had.

My mother saw what I was doing one day and asked me about it. When I explained, I could literally feel her pain, could feel her own heart attacking her. I put my hand on her heart and asked it to leave her alone. She cried like I hadn’t seen her cry before, not even after my father had died.

“There’s no heart left to attack. Your father took mine with his,” she said very quietly. I didn’t understand her words, but they scared me even more than heart attack did. She quieted her cries as she held me, holding me so tightly I actually squirmed in her embrace before she explained what a heart attack was.

That was the day I stopped pleading with my own.

For the past two years, when my friends had fun with their dads, I was jealous, angry even, that my dad had left me. I remembered when he used to play catch with me; he’d toss me a tiny football and say things like, “Good arm, son” or “I see football in your future.” I wanted more of those times. I wanted someone who would do all the things little boys did with their dads.

It didn’t help that I watched my mom fade away slowly; like the last embers of a dying fire, just patiently waiting for their turn to cease existing.

She was there in body, but her spirit was broken. She wasn’t the mom I used to know.

A few months ago, though, I noticed glimpses of her old self. She looked prettier at times like she’d put on makeup.

You thought kids didn’t notice those things? They did. They noticed their parents’ moods, their parents’ tone, and even their parents’ outlook on life.

I had some hope, some small hope I hadn’t at least lost my mother if I couldn’t have a father.

And I had just learned what had changed in my mom.

“Honey, I want you to meet someone,” she told me as she stepped into the living room with a man following her.

He towered over her, especially over me. He had a presence about him that made me step back, unable to be so close to so much overwhelming power.

“This is my son,” she told him then turned to me. “This is Charles. He’s important to Mommy, so he’s going to be around quite a bit.”

I nodded as if I understood, but I didn’t really. My mom smiled, and then Charles cracked a smile and kneeled down to my eye level. “Hi, there,” he said and put his hand on my shoulder much as my father had. I could feel the heat of his touch. It was comforting and scary at the same time.

“Will you play ball with me?” I asked him.

He chuckled and then answered with a crooked smile, “Sure, kiddo. Any time you want.”

I smiled back, feeling truly happy for the first time in a long time. I finally had a daddy again, a daddy who would do all the things my friends’ dads did, a daddy who would be there for me and tell me how proud he was of me and teach me to play football. I had a daddy.




THE PARTY WAS in full swing by the time we’d gotten there.

“Oh good, we’re here right on time,” Amanda said beside me, and I giggled. To her, “on time” meant we could just walk right in and party right away. No need to wait for others to arrive and make it fun. I was fine with that because that usually meant less time at these things. Not that I didn’t enjoy them, but it was still an adjustment for me. Amanda had been going to parties from the time she was fifteen, so this was nothing for her. Each time, I got a little bolder, a little more comfortable, but it was still a tad bit overwhelming.

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