My father did not try to talk to us much after all that had happened. The glares did not stop, he consistently stared us down every time we would walk back and forth from the entrance to the house to the upstairs. Ever since he talked badly about my girlfriend, I advised her to walk straight upstairs when we came in the house and straight downstairs and out the door when we left.
When my brother was busy, we spent our nights watching TV in the basement until we heard my father’s footsteps walk into his room. One night, as we were watching TV in the basement. We were positioned on the driveway side of the house as we heard the sound of our car engine turning on. Somehow, my father had gotten my car keys and moved my car in the street so he could take his car to get more alcohol.
He had just woken up from a short nap and decided to move my car without even asking me to move it. He was driving drunk, moving my car and then taking his car to the store. He could have injured himself and others around him along with his car, or even my car. What was he thinking?
Extremely angry, my girlfriend and I decided to take a run around our neighborhood. That night we decided to run until we were not angry any longer. After two and a half hours of jogging in circles around the neighborhood, we were still angry.
My father started to get very bitter and started to stare us down more and more each day. He would never say anything to us, he would just stare at us and keep his eyes fixed on us as we walked from room to room. He particularly glared at my girlfriend. She said it was like she could feel the hate burning through her skin. Needless to say, my father created loads more tension than he already had.
The reason he was doing this, was beyond us. All we would do, especially my girlfriend, was take care of my father and take on all of the responsibilities around the house. We made him dinner, cleaned up the house, his messes and even washed his empty whiskey glasses he would stack in the sink. We did not understand, and still do not understand, where all the hate came from.
I knew the hate was directed towards my girlfriend because my father had called me downstairs to talk to him. Just like the time before, he started to talk badly about my girlfriend. In her defense, I immediately reminded him that she was the one who cleaned up his house when we moved in here and every week since then, she was the one that put fresh paint on the walls, she was the one who cooks him dinner, cuts his lawn and has been nothing but respectful to him from the minute she met him. He just shrugged his shoulders like none of that mattered.
After the debacle that happened in front of our house while my girlfriend and I were cutting the lawn, we both went upstairs and we each took a shower. Right when I got out of my shower, my father had called us downstairs. He said he had something to tell us. When we went downstairs he asked us to sit with him on our couch.
The first thing he said to us was, “thank you for cutting the lawn”. He then proceeded to offer to pay for my girlfriend to get a manicure, pedicure and to get her hair done. She respectfully declined his offer as she thought it sexist that he would first laugh at her for mowing the lawn and then acting like she would more appreciate getting her hair and nails done, because “isn’t that what girls do” (he said).
He then proceeded to tell us, rather show us as he slid over on the couch closer to me, that there were several cigarette burns and holes in our couch. All he did was shrug his shoulders with his hands up in the air with a guilty look on his face. My girlfriend was the first to speak. Trying to conceal her anger and tears (it was a new couch that we saved up and spent a lot of money on), she said “it is what it is”. My father replied “sorry”, still with his hands up.
After telling my father that we think we have insurance on the couch, he offered to call for us and get it taken care of. My girlfriend then asked him to not smoke while he was on the couch. He made up a story that he does not even smoke on the couch. The conversation was over, so we got up and I retrieved the receipt for my father. After calling the insurance company for us, my father told me of their plans to send a replacement cushion cover, I went back upstairs and I could hear my father throwing a tantrum from upstairs.
When we first moved in with my father, he did pretty good keeping up with the lawn and that was the only thing he would actually do on a normal basis. But, all of a sudden, he just stopped. Since it did not look like anyone had cut the grass in a few weeks, my girlfriend and I decided to cut it.
Of course, my father had to intervene. First, he let my dog outside in the backyard while the fence was open. My girlfriend was using the weed trimmer and I was mowing the lawn. Obviously not a safe place for my dog to be. But, my father, knowing we were cutting the lawn, let her out there anyway.
Luckily, I saw my dog running toward my girlfriend. I yelled my girlfriend’s name to grab her attention. My girlfriend saw my dog running and turned the weed trimmer off in time to grab her and put her back into the house. Already irritated about my father’s actions, I noticed a disturbing scene out of the corner of my eye, as we were finishing up the front lawn with the weed trimmer and blower .
What I saw was my father standing on the front porch waving his arms in the air and yelling something I could not hear, pointing and laughing, and jumping up and down, fist pumping and cheering us on. I acted like I did not see this in hopes that he would go away. I noticed my girlfriend was doing the same. We both had the blower and the weed trimmer on full speed to drown out the sound of my father’s cheers. We were embarrassed to say the least.
Unfortunately, my father did not go away, he waited until we were done. He was pointing and laughing at my girlfriend and mumbled something about how he was sorry for laughing because she was cutting the grass.
My extended family did not know, or acted like they did not know my father had a big problem. The just thought he drank a few beers a day. I always wondered why they never questioned why my father would never come around anymore and why he did not talk to them often. There was one point where he had talked to my aunt. She had asked him to go visit my grandfather (who lives in another state) with her.
In a sober second, he told me about it and said he was excited to go because he has not seen my grandpa in a couple of years. My father seemed pretty adamant about going and I thought that FINALLY I would get a break from the tension he created throughout the day.
About a week before he was due to leave for his out of state trip. I had noticed my father had cut down his drinking dramatically. He was still drinking for the majority of the day, but not as heavily as his norm. The day before he was supposed to leave, he claimed he had gotten one of his infamous “migraines”. He told my aunt he was not able to go because he would could not ride in a car with such a pain in his head. So, instead of seeing his father he had not seen in years, he stayed home to drink away his migraine.
One night, when we were coming home from my brother’s house, my girlfriend and I were playing our guessing game of “is my dad awake or blacked out?”. As we approached the house, we saw that all the lights were off and so was the TV was off. “Whew” he’s asleep. As we walked in the door to the living room, my father was sitting in the dark. Alone. Staring at the TV (once again: that was off) and listening to music off of his cell phone.
The sight of this startled both of us and all I know how to describe this situation as is: creepy. I remember stopping and staring at my father for a minute or so and the only thing I could manage to force out of my mouth was “hey”, in a confusing tone. My father just turned his head and stared at us. I was confused about the reason my father was in the dark in the sense that I did not know the reason why he was in the dark, staring into the blank TV, by himself, with a glass of whiskey and a sappy Country song. Perhaps there was a power outage and he was listening to music on his phone to pass the time?
However, when we finally made it up the stairs to where we stayed, I flipped the switch and the light turned on. Creepy. That is all I could think about. My brother and I could not find a house soon enough.
Since my father seemed to have a pretty steady sleeping pattern of waking up after I finished working (around 5:30 PM) and staying up all night, I decided to spend the time my father was awake at my brother’s house. I started to go to my brothers only a few nights a week, to talk to him about the crazy events we had to encounter while living with my father.
As things got worse at my father’s house, my brother’s place became our refuge from the stresses my father created. It seemed as if we were there every night of the week. We would work, go to my brother’s house, stay there until the time my father usually passed out, and went on home. We actually found a way to bypass seeing my father.
Most of the time, my father would be passed out on the couch – with the TV on and the lights off, or both the lights and the TV were off – and we were able to sneak upstairs before he woke up again. There were only a few times he was awake. We saw he had the TV and the lights on, so we would take walks around the block or sit on the back porch until he went to bed.
This routine grew tiresome, avoiding my father made me realize that we needed a change. We needed to get out of this situation. In fact, my brother was in need of a roommate when his lease was up on his house as his roommate was moving out of state. So, we talked with him about finding a place for all of us to live in. Until then, we still had to deal with my father.
Keeping my dog in my line of sight must have caught my father’s attention. One morning, I woke up to let my dog outside as usual. As I went to the back door that led to the backyard, I noticed that my dog’s food bowls were not where they were supposed to be – which was up against the wall on the landing next to the stairs that led to the basement (which just so happens to be across from the back door) – instead, the food dishes were lying on the floor of the basement.
Not only that, the pieces of her food was scattered down the steps. It looked like my father kicked the bowls full of water and food down the stairs into the basement. I would give him the benefit of the doubt that he may have stumbled and tripped over her food bowls, but the bowls were up against a wall and not in a direct walking path. If he would have stumbled into them in the way the food lie on the steps and basement floor, he more than likely would have fallen down the stairs along with the bowls.
I feel like my father noticed we were keeping our dog away from him and I can also bet that he had no idea why. I do know that he probably assumed it had something to do with him not seeing our dog around the house like he used to. I could definitely see him becoming angry about something dealing with my dog, and over-dramatically taking it out on her food dishes. That was just the type of person he was.
My dad’s condition worsened as he was barely able to speak to me most of the time, that is, speak to me clearly. He would start to forget what day it was or even the time of day. One time, my girlfriend and I were making dinner and he woke from one of his many blackouts that started to occur on a normal basis and asked us why we were making dinner so late…it was 5:30 PM, he thought it was 11:00 PM.
With his worsened condition, he would start to let our dog outside without telling either myself or my girlfriend and he would forget to let her back in. Even if there was a storm coming or it was raining outside, he still would not remember (or would refuse – that I do not know) to let my dog inside the house or that he even let her out in the first place.
One morning, when woke up, I went to let my dog outside and I could not find her. When I went downstairs, I noticed my father was in his room sleeping, instead of sleeping on the couch,. So, I checked under the couch, in the basement, under my bed, and checked every hiding spot she normally slept and I still couldn’t find her. All the doors in the house were locked as they always are when everyone is asleep.
I never thought I would have to look outside, but there she was, hiding under the patio table. In the middle of summer, my dog was outside for who knows how long. It was apparent to me that my father was becoming very careless, even a little bit reckless. From that day on, I did not let my dog out of my sight, I made sure she stayed with me in whatever room I was in.
At this point during my stay with my father, his unusual sleeping pattern that revolved around the amount of alcohol in the house caused him to be awake at odd times. Sometimes he was up in the late morning, sometimes he would wake up from mid to late afternoon, but he was always up during the night.
I am not going to lie, it was peaceful when he did not wake up until late afternoon, because I would be able to work without being distracted from all the things that made me cringe about my father’s actions. The things I would cringe about were the the only way I could tell that he was awake.
I would cringe when I would hear the crack of a beer or the sound of ice clinking in a glass. These were the noises I usually heard when he first woke up. I would also cringe at the smell of his cigarettes and the sound of his text message notifications.
I cringed at the can and the ice because it disgusted me to think that this was his “morning” routine that would continue for the next few hours until he either blacked out or actually went to bed to sober up and get more alcohol. Besides that, a drink would always accompany the first of many cigarettes – he would literally smoke 2-3 packs a day with not so much of a crack of a window – and then the drunk texting began.
Since the day my father figured out how to text on his phone, he started to take it to a different level. He is known to send a book’s worth of text messages over a few hours without stopping. It made me cringe because he would only text when he was drunk, otherwise he would call whomever he was trying to talk to, and he would try to stir up drama with the person who texted him back.
Still, to this day I cringe at these noises (and the smell of his brand of cigarettes) because it reminds me of the turning point in my father’s drinking career, the point where he made a turn for the worst.