Reality tumbled from the bluest sky that warm spring day like over-ripened fruit, falling at my feet. Inedible. I’d just turned sixteen, and there were only a few weeks left of my junior year in high school. As I approached our small split-level home, I was elated to see my Dad outside mowing the lawn, back early from one of his many road trips as a traveling salesman for an upholstery company he hoped to one day co-own. Life without Dad during the days he was gone was rarely fun, and my mother’s dark moods, though predictable, had me walking on eggshells and perpetually nervous. Though it wasn’t exactly easy I guess; she did have the three of us, two feisty younger boys, and, more than a little bit frenetic a teenage girl… me.
I couldn’t wait to tell Dad about the great meeting I’d had earlier in the day with my guidance counselor, Mr. Jordan- a sweet, soft-spoken man whose immaculate appearance, which included bow ties, was always encouraging. Damp kisses are sparingly exchanged as Dad shuts the noisy motor in an attempt to hear my loud babble. “Honor Roll, Daddy! See, these are college applications. And look: my grades in art, writing, and music are all A’s. Really good, huh Dad?
“Whoa!!!” Dad says, with an unmatched enthusiasm peppered with boredom. There goes my hopeful heart I think as a butterfly perches on a holly bush then seconds later flaps away.
“Oh, let me get you a cold drink, Daddy. How about some lemonade?” But he’s primed up the motor again and is circling the only tree on our small, yet hilly lawn─ a young, weeping willow for which my father has a love-hate relationship, having expressed he fears it might, one day, uproot the entire lawn if ever there’s a bad storm like a hurricane. Inside me I can feel my own storm brewing as I am forced to watch his apathy, which I had never really contemplated. Maybe I, too, am just warm and over-reacting, how I’ve heard Dad describe this daughter of his, before.
(From a memoir in progress)