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Summer sun, October sun, and a bag.

by Once

– NOT SUICIDE RELATED.Just reminiscing. –

My dad could build. He wasn’t a contractor, per se, he was in the telecommunications business. But somewhere along the way, someone taught him how to build. Stuff, things.

My town recently passed an ordinance banning plastic grocery bags, because apparently they are evil and destructive and naughty, and the universe must be saved from them. So, today, I bought three cookies and a small bag of potato chips and left the store holding one of those extra gonzo size heavy duty paper grocery sacks designated as “1/6  BBL (70#)  with “Renewable, recyclable, sustainable, and contains minimum 40% post-consumer material” printed on the bottom. Whew. The future of Earth is now safe, for eons to come.

Now, I must decide what to do with my extra gonzo bag.

As a kid, my dad built this “thing” – it was a storage compartment and trash can combo. The bottom part of it featured an area into which this sort of bag could be installed and held in place utilizing a simple binder clip assembly, filled with garbage and removed and replaced as needed. It worked wonderfully. Above that, was a storage area just slightly larger than these extra gonzo bags, into which as many as a hundred or so could be stored, provided they were folded neatly.

This contraption was just one of many such contraptions that dad designed and built. He did the lions share of the work on an addition to our family home when I was young. It took years of work on weekends and evenings, after his full time job, and mom hated that he insisted on doing as much of the work as possible in order to save money, but one day many years later, it was. . . complete. Dad’s greatest accomplishment, a memorial and testament to his skill and ability.

Dad found a basketball goal post for me once. It was buried in someone’s back yard, and he talked them into selling it so I could have it. It took the better part of a Saturday to remove it, he and I working together under a sweltering southwest Texas desert sun. At one point, the use of a heavy metal bar and a sledge hammer was necessary to break up some concrete. I had never swung a sledge hammer at the miniscule end of a steel bar before, and at the age of 14, lacked a refined sense of hand – eye coordination, but dad held the bar in his hands, told me to “focus only on the end of the bar, and try not to miss and hit my arms.”

I did, and I didnt. And roughly two weeks later, I had a nice new goal post in my front yard.

Dad trusted me that day. Without resevation, without visible doubt. He just told me what to do, and waited for me to do it. And I did it.

So, today, I’m staring at this extra gonzo paper bag, and trying to figure out where I’ll store it when I get home, but I don’t build. I do other things, but unlike dad, I don’t build.

I’ll probably use it to dispose of my cats used litter, since my city now says I can no longer purchase groceries and place them in plastic bags, which I then filled with the same litter.

I’ve hated my dad, disliked my dad, liked my dad, loved my dad, ignored him, scoffed at and disrespected him, secretly imagined killing him, and cleaned him after he soiled himself a few years before alzheimers claimed him. I shaved his face in a hospital once, and listened to him ramble about nothing and everything as we sat eating fried chicken in a fast food joint, during the early days of alzheimers. And I’ve buried my dad. I pinned two of his military service medals on the lapels of his suit jacket as he lay in his casket, the day of his funeral, and fought back tears as he received a twenty one gun salute at the cemetery, under not a sweltering sun, but a mild October sun in the desert of southwest Texas.

Dad broke me down, along with mom, over a lot of years. It’s what parents do. It’s what humans do. They succesfully crushed my spirit, and stifled me through years of just being human. It’s everyone’s story, the only difference is the names, the places, the dates, yeah, the details. Parents crush child, child hates parents, child buries parents, child reconciles as best they can, or maybe not.

I suppose I can start a collection of 1/6 BBL (70#) bags now, thanks to a new municipal ordinance.

Chuckle. Sigh.

I miss you, Dad.


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a1957 3/28/2019 - 7:41 pm

“Parents crush child, child hates parents, child buries parents, child reconciles as best they can, or maybe not.” That’s pretty much it in most homes. All the more reason not to reproduce.

Once 3/28/2019 - 11:03 pm

I guess someone, somewhere people do it adequately. I know I wouldn’t.

clipped-wings 3/28/2019 - 8:32 pm

That was beautiful.

Once 3/28/2019 - 11:00 pm

Thanks for commenting and reading, Clipped Wings. Hope things are manageable for you.

Atintofgreen 3/28/2019 - 8:53 pm

Have you tried giving your cats the paper bag? I’m sure they would know what to do with it. I don’t think I’ve felt anything but hate for my father. It’s good to read about someone who felt some kind of love for their father.

basefree 3/28/2019 - 10:43 pm

May I ask, are you a son or a daughter?

Once 3/28/2019 - 10:57 pm

Yeah, of course. I was his first son.

Once 3/28/2019 - 10:56 pm

No, that never even crossed my mind. They enjoy the heck out of wadded up paper balls, so maybe the bag will keep them occupied.

As for dad, what I feel fluctuates. Did I ever “love” him? Not really. It’s a long story, but the closest we ever were was “friends.”

Obviously, your relationship with your dad wasn’t what it could’ve been either. That sucks. I wish it could be different.

Atintofgreen 3/29/2019 - 2:40 pm

I had a dream about your cats using the bag as a tunnel. How did it go?

Once 3/29/2019 - 10:45 pm

They were unfazed by it. They pretty much ignored it. So it goes with cats! But thanks for the idea, it was worth a try.

AfflictedSmile 3/29/2019 - 8:14 pm

I can definitely relate to this on many levels. My step father is like my real father in the sense my real father I never knew. I pretty much grew up under my step father. I always pictured my childhood before my teens when the memorable abuse began, as decent if not outright good.
And then I reflect back and think no, it was only okay because he never became abusive, but he was still a control freak with a short fuse. Except we were kids, so he was merely more tolerable of us then.

It wasn’t till my brother and I reached our teens that he held nothing back in the form of abuse. Emotional and psychical. The littlest things would set him off. I grew up walking on egg shells, hoping I didn’t crack any from minute to minute, day to day and so on. At times, when he was on his rampage, I would hide and pray I wouldn’t be discovered. Frozen hiding in the washroom for what at times seemed like eternity, stricken with fear and anxiety. Certain anxiety habits I picked up as a child are still with me today as a grown man.

My step father finally did realize he needed help, and got his blood pressure under control. He was still a control freak, but he didn’t have the short fuse he once did. He had almost changed overnight into a decent human being. I feel like he saw the error in his ways and tried to make up for it by taking me fishing. He loved to fish more than almost anything. And just about everytime he’d go, he’d try to bring me along. I think it was in an attempt to mend the relationship between us. However by that point, the damage was done. I didn’t trust him or feel comfortable alone with him.

I would at times cave, but I quickly learned to try and dodge these fishing expeditions by staying out late, hiding etc. And the few times I would go, it was okay. We fished and I think he enjoyed it. I did not however. And it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy fishing, I was tied in knots of anxiety.

Skip forward 20 years and we’ve come along way in mending the broken pieces. It will never be whole, but I’ve accepted it the best I can and I now consider him to be my father in the greater sense. Now days we’re both so busy with work and I’m busy with my own family now, but I wish he’d call me up one day to ask me to go fishing. It’s funny how the cycle of parent and child relationships wax and wane.

Once 3/29/2019 - 10:54 pm

Wow. That’s pretty intense, Afflicted Smile.

I didn’t have to deal with the explosiveness you did. Some, but not a lot. Nor did I live with physical abuse.

Absence of a father figure was a crippler for me, coupled with psychological abuse and just plain neglect.

It’s good your dad tried to reconcile things, although like you said, what’s done is done. Still, through it all, there’s a point that can be reached where it’s possible to cut your losses and accept all that happened and . . . live with it. It just becomes less toxic and more manageable.

I suppose that’s why I ended my post with “I miss you”, not “I love you.”

Thanks for your reply, man. Take care.

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