Thursday, October 23, 2008

Once Upon a Time - story of my dad - part One

I realized that I've never written about why I don't see my father any longer. It's a wild tale -- more like a fairytale or fantasy story. I'm not sure how much I believe.

My parents divorced when I was 10. My father insisted on liberal visitation. We saw him every other weekend, and ever Tuesday and Thursday evening. That was quite frequent compared to all my other friends with divorced parents. Mom moved her new boyfriend (Toilet) in right away. Dad promised that Sister and I would always come first; he'd never date anyone we didn't like; we would always come first.

Dad dated some. We met one who was nice. She was Dutch and cooked great meals for us. She was older than he and had older children. The next lady we met turned into a long-term relationship. "Jill" moved in with Dad eventually. Jill did not have children and wasn't quite sure what to do with Sister and I. Jill was nice - just not motherly. She was very health conscious and limited our snacks and junk food when we visited.

For someone that had never had children, Jill was one of the more parental-like influences in my life. She very well could have been a great influence on my life had circumstances been different. When I dated a boy who was 3 1/2 years older than me, started sneaking out, etc, Jill was the one who made me be accountable for where I was and when I'd be back. When my personality totally changed, it was Jill who snooped through my stuff to determine if I was on drugs. It was Jill who raised concerns about Toilet to my Dad - although Dad ignored it. Jill also tried to talk to me about peer pressure, dressing less provocatively and my interactions with the boys I was dating.

Up until that point, Dad was an active father. He came to school events, kept up with our schooling and activities, and did things with us on weekends. We took family vacations every summer, visited extended family on holidays and typically went camping several times a year.

When I was 16/17, Sister decided to move in with Dad. Right before Sister moved in, Jill moved out. I'm wasn't sure why at the time. I later learned that Jill did not want my Sister to witness the physical abuse between she and my father. Dad went on a dating frenzy. He was out all the time. Jill moved out at the beginning of the summer. Right before Christmas, Dad called me. He wanted me to come meet him somewhere as soon as possible.

Dad had me meet him at a bar. He met me in the parking lot, got out of a strange car, came up to the window and indicated I should follow the car. He was giddy acting. So I followed him to a farmhouse. Sister was there. I was introduced to "Rita" and her four children. Dad had dated Rita a few times and decided to marry her -- in two weeks. He and Sister would be moving to Rita's house. Now, that was a great first introduction! I met my new step-mother, new weekend home and four new step-siblings in a matter of moments.

Sister and I saw Rita two or three times after that. She had four children. The first and fourth had the same father. The middle two had different fathers. They were younger than my sister and I. At that time, I was 17, Sister was 15, and the four kids were Boy 14, Girl 13, Boy 9 and Boy 3 (I think). Talk about starting over! Rita wanted Sister and I to come to the wedding, which was taking place out-of-state because there were no blood tests or waiting periods there. It was not well planned or organized. It was to take place quickly!

I arranged to switch work shifts and drove to Dad's house. I met Rita's ex-husband's brother, his wife, and their two children. Their oldest was named Mick and he was my age. I thought he was quite cute. We drove to the wedding chapel (think Las Vegas like) and to a restaurant. Then I had to get back to work. Rita sneakily suggested that Mick take me home. She winked at me and I thought that this new stepmother might be quite cool. Mick and I chatted and I learned that Rita had been married three or four times before. Mick didn't seem too taken with Rita. I thought at first it was because Rita wasn't with Mick's uncle anymore.

That weekend I visited. Rita asked if I would watch the kids so she and Dad could go out. I said sure. She suggested Mick and his brother come over too. So we ordered pizza and they all visited. Mick and I found time to sneak away and get to know each other a bit more. The next weekend I was asked to babysit again. I mentioned Mick might visit and Rita flipped out and said he wasn't invited. I was confused but said "okay." Then she and Dad came home early, to make sure Mick wasn't there. I didn't understand what had happened.

Rita was odd - one moment she wanted me to call her Mom. The next she wanted to be treated like a sister. One moment she was ultra-conservative. The next she was discussing she and my father's love life - in detail. One moment she was kind and sweet. The next her face would change and she'd be an angry witch.

Rita lived on a farm and raised Arabian horses for a living. She also barrel raced. I was ecstatic on learning this. I had always wanted a horse. I immediately wanted lessons, which she was glad to give. I also helped out with the other children and horse duties. One moment Rita was appreciative. The next she wanted me to get lost.

Rita and I clashed some. She wanted me to help with the younger children. Especially with homework and tutoring. But when I'd take an interest in their schoolwork and try to talk to the kids, she got irritated with me. She often wanted me to help out with the 3-year old. I loved the little guy and quickly developed a bond with him. He was desperate for attention and followed me everywhere. I grew concerned when bathing him. He had bruises all over. When I asked about them, Rita got aggravated. One day Rita and I got into a major argument. She wanted me to come out and help in the barn. However, I had just gotten the 3-year old down for a nap and was worried he would wander out of his room. She told me to lock him in his room. I refused - I would not lock him in his room and then go outside, across the large yard and into a barn. What if there was an emergency or fire? Rita got very upset and ordered me to do it. I refused. Later I spoke with my father and he took Rita's side. I was upset and vowed never to be put in the situation where I would have to lock a child in their room and leave the house.

That dispute was the beginning of the end of my relationship with Rita........(to be continued)


Kahless said...

Listening and waiting for the next instalment....

I think I see where this may be headed...

Hope you and your family are doing well.

Anonymous said...

I hope it is helpful to you to be writing this part of your story.

I'm here and listening, too.

lawyerchik said...

Looks like you had good instincts (mothering and otherwise) even then, Enola.

Rising Rainbow said...

Sometimes family just sucks. It sounds like this was a good group to put behind you.