Daddy’s Basement

Image: Amanda Dykes
Image: Amanda Dykes

Hi Alvin,

I hope you and your family are doing well.  I didn’t get a chance to speak with you after the funeral.  I was hoping that maybe we could sit down and talk.  Make amends.  Heal old wounds.  It’s not too late – for us anyway.

I’m writing to let you know that I’ve begun to go through Daddy’s things.  There were a lot of old boxes in the basement that I thought were junk, but looking more closely, I think it explains a lot.

I found some letters Mama and Daddy wrote each other while he was in the Korean war.  This was before they got married, and in fact, I think it explains why they did. 

Mama had been sexually abused by her cousin for years.  She kept it quiet until she couldn’t.  She told grand-mommy and it got to poppy and the rest of the family. She was either called a liar or told to just put it out of her mind.  Daddy wanted to come home to “deal” with it, but Mama told him to just focus on getting himself home in one piece.   He sent money so she could move, but Mama made excuses about why she couldn’t.  I think she was just afraid.

There was also a part in some of the letters where Daddy alluded to being abused too.  Something about his father cut his toes off and his mother sewed them back on with the needle and thread she used for clothing.  I thought at first that he was just trying to make Mama laugh or help her to not feel alone.  But the more I read, there were awful things that happened to him.  Like his father burning him with a cattle brand. 

Remember when we were little, you asked Daddy why he had that big ‘W’ on his shoulder?  That look on his face could have killed.  He tried to dismiss it as him and his brother playing around.  Well, now we know the truth.  I guess all the times he lashed out at us, he was just repeating what his father did to him.

Anyway, I didn’t want to write to bring you down or anything.  Just that I think I understand now that our parents were hurt individuals who turned to each other for solace, later finding out that they really were nothing to each other.  Remember how Mama and Daddy were around each other?  They never really seemed to like each other.  I don’t think I ever saw them hug or kiss.  It was obvious that they didn’t love each other, and I think that only intensified the pain they already were enduring, trying to forgot their pasts.

Alvin, I think you and I were supposed to be the remedy for their pain.  A way to make up for everything they went through by being better parents than their own.  Instead they repeated patterns turning their childhood horrors into generational curses.  But now that we know, we can free ourselves.  There’s no reason for us to continue to hold on to the old burdens. Mama and Daddy are gone.  Nothing we can do to correct anything there.  But we have a chance.  Are you willing to try?

I’ve included my business card.  I’m hoping that we can talk.  I miss you, brother.  And I love you.  Please remember that.