I always hoped that the apple could somehow fall and roll far far away from its tree. However, I’m not sure how possible or logical that is. No matter how far it rolls or what it rolls in; there will always be something that will let you know which tree it came from.
While on the way to meet his parents for the first time, I literally can not express to you how excited and nervous I was! So, of course, we had discussed them before, but in very little detail. I knew the basics, that his dad was black and his mother was white and that they’ve been together for just over 20 years, but not much else, so I was trying to get all the little questions out before we made it to their house.
A little back story before we get into my questions and our arrival:
My husband was taken away from his parents when he was about 3 months old. “Why?” you might ask. We did some digging after we were married and found a few interesting things the social worker wrote on his papers, but nothing truly conclusive. He was given to his paternal grandmother, who I knew already and absolutely loved. He called her Mama. She raised him as her own son, put him in private school and gave him literally everything. However, at their request, she allowed him to live with his parents for his sophomore and senior year. He talked about his younger siblings, who lived with his parents but never really any stories about them personally. He also hadn’t seen them in several months and I could tell he was a bit anxious about the visit too.
While driving, I just needed to know what they were like! I began with the cute questions…
Me: “So…”, turning down the music, “what are they like?”
Him: “They’re my parents, what do you mean?”, he said with a laugh.
Me: “Well, what were they like when you were growing up?”, I pressed.
Me: “In what way?”
Him: (Totally not answering the question) “My dad calls me his ‘hero’, cause I was always really smart and funny as a kid.”
Me: “That’s really sweet.”, I replied, slightly confused at his avoidance of my previous question.
Him: “My mom is just… Like, it’s like she’s not there in the moment with you, ya know?”
Me: (I wanted to say “No”, instead, I just stayed quiet and listened.)
Him: “…she’s always been that way. It’s like she’s just existing or living in a daydream.”
Somewhere within this conversation, it turned and in a somewhat solemn way he mentions…
Him: “My dad used to hit my mom.”
Immediately, I went from envisioning a man that probably wasn’t ready to be a father at the time but always loved his family, to now envisioning an abuser!
Me: (Trying to remain optimistic and not lose excitement)”Used to?”
Him: “Yea, for a long time… but they sound really happy now and I know they’re going to love you”, he winked.
After a 45 minute drive out to their home, we arrived.
No sooner after he knocked, the door swung open and his dad gave him the biggest hug; almost lifting him off the ground! He was much bigger than my husband, towering him by a few inches and had these huge arms. You could tell he lifted weights and took care of himself.
We sat next to each other on the love seat opposite from his parents and listened to his dad recount funny stories of his oldest son. I noticed that his mother didn’t speak much, but she seemed engaged in the conversation; laughing at appropriate times and didn’t quite fit the description he gave for her in the car.
His dad was an amazing cook! He made us some delicious steak kabobs, but it broke up the conversation a bit from him going back and forth to the grill in the backyard. When he had finished grilling and we were all seated in the living room eating, he asked me if I had any other questions.
Once again, I started with a few cute questions about his personality and his love for Jerry Lewis but I had to ask a tough question. One that I asked my husband before, but his answers were just too vague.
“How did he get that scar on his head?”
If my husband didn’t put gel in his hair and vigorously brush over it, it would almost look like an intentionally placed slanted part, in and through his hairline, almost 2 inches long.
His dad took a deep pause and looked down as if the floor became a screen, vividly replaying that day.
Finally, he responded.
“See when he was 16, I asked him and his sister to run 5 laps around the block and he came back early. I met him at the door and asked him if he had run all 5. (deep breath, almost angering himself all over again) And he told me, yes, but I had been watching him through the window and KNEW he was lying to me! Right next to me was a police flashlight with the long steel handle… And before I knew it, I had hit him over the head with it… And blood just went everywhere… I started shaking from the huge gash in his head and reached into my pocket and handed him my keys… I told him to drive himself to the emergency room…”
“Drive?…By himself?…While bleeding?!”, I thought.
In shock, I looked at my husband just to see his face and he just sat there, nodding his head like, “Yea, that’s what happened.”
“I never forgave myself for that son, I’m sorry about that.”
I was in utter disbelief but I tried not to show it on my face.
When we were back in the car, I told him how sorry I was that he had to experience something like that. His response shocked me even more.
“That’s just what happened. When I turned 13, he told me I was too old for spankings and that I needed to fight him like a man, anytime I got in trouble.”
“So, he punched you?”, I asked gently.
Moving his tongue in his cheek, he took a long pause, as though they were tough memories to recall, he whispered, “Yea…”.
I Should’ve Saw The Signs