Father or Paddy as I thought of him, because that’s what my mother called him, when she was in a good mood, was devouring his burger and fries, although he was not drinking the stale coffee I served him. I had to laugh to myself over that, because he thought he was an expert on coffee. He had to have the best brand and it had to be ground just so and brewed so many minutes. I wondered how he liked the lukewarm coffee I served him that had been sitting there for a few hours? I thought he wouldn’t be coming here anymore, which was of course my purpose in being so obnoxious to him. That and I was really angry at him for leaving us again with out so much as a goodby.
He had quit the job he had as a night-watchman at a plant not far from where we lived. He went home to his mother to live then. He could never stay at a job very long after he lost his position as a school teacher. That was all politics he told us. He felt that any manual labor was beneath him, after he went to college to become a teacher. The only other jobs to be had in the area were in the coal mines and he swore he would never work in the mines.
I was angry and at the same time I was relieved that he was gone, because he was making mother miserable and they were always arguing. Also my sister and I had a lot more freedom when he wasn’t there. Not that we got into trouble but we did like to be able to go wherever and whenever we wanted and mother was pretty easygoing now that we were older.
We were Catholic school girls for crying out loud and we had so many guilt trips laid on us, mostly by the priests and nuns, that we wouldn’t know how to be “wild,” which was the phrase of the day for young people, even if we wanted to. Our idea of a good time was to go to the library, the movies or to a school dance. At this time we really hadn’t started dating, so we just got together with our friends at school or at the school dances and go for a coke afterwards. Those times we were with our friends from school, whose company we enjoyed.
As I was waiting on people, I saw that Paddy was trying to get my attention but I pretended not to notice and kept my back turned. A few minutes later Trudy went over to see if he wanted anything else and they spoke for a few minutes before he got up and headed for the door. I happened to be waiting on several people at the soda fountain so my attention was diverted and I did not see him leave.
I don’t know what he expected of me, he is the one who left us so many times that I couldn’t remember. And the last time was the last time! Mother had it with him and she swore she would never take him back. Don’t know what he thought I could do about the situation, if anything. Sure, I sat with him and his buddies while they played poker and told stories about the war and drank beer. Sometimes I was allowed to have a sip of their beer. Most of them were too old to be in the war anyway but it didn’t stop them from telling the stories. The only reason Paddy was drafted at forty-two was because he had deserted his family! Then he didn’t want his allotment sent to us until he had to, because the Army took that decision out of his hands. So we really owed him nothing, except maybe our contempt.
If it were up to him we would be still living in the shack with the rain coming through the holes in the roof. Why Mother had taken him back at all, I didn’t know, he was never a help to us. I suppose he thought now that my sister and I were getting older, we would be working and bringing in money to the family and he wouldn’t have to work much, if at all.
After he left, Trudy came over and said, “He left this for you,” as she handed me two dollars.
I took the money and put it in my uniform pocket and noticing the look on her face, I said, “What’s with you?”
“How could you treat your Father like that?” she said.
“Don’t question me unless you know what you are talking about!” I snapped back.
She let it drop then and we went back to our respective duties.
I did not know it then but that was to be the last time I saw my father. I was fourteen.
This is the last class in 101 Writing and our assignment is to write about what we will do or expect to do in the future.
I picked this Crystal Ball moment to answer this question. What does the rest of 2015 hold for you?
THE CRYSTAL BALL
Who knows what the future holds? Certainly not me. We can say we hope to do this, or we hope to do that or I want to accomplish so and so but when all is said and done, like the song says, “What Ever Will Be, Will Be.” I always liked that song.
I used to believe we could plan our future and follow those plans to the letter and accomplish all our goals. And maybe to a certain extent, things do work out the way we planned them, sometimes. But there is always something or someone to come along and throw a wrench into our plans.
Sure, we can start over again with our plan or goal but occasionally or more often, we have to take a detour and go about it another way. Or we get discouraged and drop the plan entirely because of something happening to you, your family or any number of things. I know I certainly have had to change plans many times in my life. And I usually do not seem to get back to doing what I was planning to do. Or it changes drastically to something entirely different.
I find that very rarely do my plans or goals proceed in a straight line from A to B to C. No, something and often many things, appear in my path and before I know it, my plans have changed and I am doing something completely different from what I had originally planned.
So my outlook now that I am older, is very different from what it used to be in my younger days. I do not strive to meet that goal no matter what. I take it slower and easier and in my stride and if it does not happen, it does not happen. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. Maybe I do not accomplish everything I wanted to, but I think I am happier. Now I follow the song, “What Ever Will Be, Will Be,” religiously.
This story is from my archives. It is a continuing story, memoir or autobiography of my life as I remember it. I am repeating a section of it here today, because I can’t think of anything for today’s assignment, even though I have wracked by brain to think of something close to what we are supposed to do.
So, hope you enjoy it and I will do the next in the series of, “Growing Up” just to close this particular section. And I will also do tomorrow’s assignment on time or at least try to.
I was fourteen years old when my father left for the last time, at least we hoped it was the last time. Life resumed its normal rhythm and we managed to get through that Summer in much the same way that we were used to. Although my sister, who was sixteen now, had quit school in tenth grade to work full-time. She then changed her mind after working in a factory for a while and decided to go back to school and graduate.
My mother was glad even though there would be less money coming in now; she thought it was more important to graduate. I was a freshman now and considered myself quite grown up and should be able to do whatever I wanted. My mother, easygoing as she was most times, had other ideas about that. I was not a problem in my teens like some other of my peers and since I was responsible and helped out at home, my mother trusted me.
I was still working at the coke and jukebox place for the rest of that Summer and paying for my expenses at school, so I was pretty independent. One day as I was working with the one other waitress who was also on duty, guess who walks into the place with a big smile on his face? My father! I hadn’t seen him since the big blow up between himself and my mother a few months ago, when he stormed out with my mother’s encouragement. That was over my sister having her sixteenth birthday party in our basement, which he was adamantly against. We hadn’t heard from him since that time and he had never even said goodby when he left and here he was waltzing in here to see me. Not sure what he was after but I was having none of it.
He sat down at the counter and I anxiously tried to get Trudy, the other waitress, to wait on him but she said she was too busy. So I, against my better judgement, walked over to where he was sitting. He was sitting at the counter in spite of several empty booths and without even saying hello, I asked what he wanted. He had a funny smile on his face as though he knew I wanted to slap him, now that I was big enough. He was only about five feet six, with a slight build although he had a lot more muscle tone than I did. He was always exercising and lifting weights and I am sure even though I was five feet five at the time, not much shorter than he, I was in no shape to be challenging him. My mouth was another story.
He said he would have a hamburger and french fries. “Oh crap” I thought, “he wants me to cook for him. Damn!” I really was angry at him and now I had to cook something and serve him. I went into the kitchen and started banging around and making a lot of noise. First of course I had to pour him a cup of coffee, which had been sitting there for hours and I knew how he liked it freshly made or he wouldn’t drink it. So I got some satisfaction from that. He didn’t say anything about it though. He just sat there with that sickening smile. I continued banging around in the kitchen and finally I came out and slammed the plate down in front of him. I walked away and went over to Trudy and she was looking at me with a, “What’s the matter with you,” look on her face. I couldn’t explain who he was to her, not while he was still sitting there.
While I was brainstorming, trying to think of something I could write for today’s assignment. That something was to include mining a nugget in your old posts, your tweets, your Facebook site and on and on.
Well, I just had a sparkling thought after seeing this picture of myself several years ago as I was standing outside of the apartment complex by the beach. I was Assistant Manager at the complex and it was only myself or the manager in the office at any given time.
It was a one person office if you will. We, along with a maintenance man, had to handle everything that happened for the day. Could be people coming in to look for an apartment, a complaint by a tenant, or tenants coming in to pay rent or writing a lease agreement.
Of course many other things happened during the day, a flood in an apartment from a toilet overflowing to a sink in the kitchen blocked to someone screaming at you because you had their car towed for being in the wrong parking place.
One day as I was speaking to someone who had come into the office to look at an apartment, the phone rang. Now, at that time I was new to the office, having just started working a few months before. I did not know a lot of the tenants as there was thirty-four apartments and most units had at least two people or more. We had one and two bedroom apartments. So a lot of people to get to know and they were coming and going on a fairly regular basis.
I picked up the phone and the woman identified herself as a tenant. She went on to tell me about her problem, which I was only half listening to because I had a person in front of me who was anxious to look at an apartment. The conversation on the phone went something like this:
“Hello,” the caller said.
After identifying myself, I said, “How can I help you?”
“Where’s Marlene?” caller.
“She is off today, can I help you with anything?”
The caller then went on and on about some perceived problem, which I knew I was not going to be able to do anything about.
The person in front of me was getting antsy and I held my finger up in the ‘wait a moment’ signal.
The caller was still going on when I finally said, “Do you want to bottom line it for me.”
Now unbeknownst to me the caller was a long time resident of ninety-five years old, whose name was Mary. The manager had always treated Mary with the utmost respect.
“The bottom line is,” the caller went on without losing a beat. She told me her problem in a few short words and I told her what I could do to help.
I also took care of the person in front of me and all was well.
After that day though, whenever Mary, who I’d told to “bottom line” it, would, when she came into the office, say to me, “You are not Marlene!”
Whereupon, I would retort, “Very perceptive of you Mary.”
She had a good sense of humor and we went on to become, if not friends, then friendly.