I’ve never heard my father shout or mutter a “four-letter word.”
Only once has he knowingly and intentionally “flipped-off” another in my presence. Though it happened when I was ten or twelve, it’s vivid for its startling uniqueness. He drove. I sat in the passenger seat. Along a Sacramento-area freeway, another driver swerved in front of our car. That abrupt act caused Dad to jerk his car into the next lane, speed past the offending driver, and then angle back into the lane, ahead of the other car. He raised his right hand and gave the classic middle-fingered gesture.
The 9th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for August 14, 2011
“It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 16:26)
Didn’t think Dad knew what it meant. I knew because of friends who “flipped people off” in the schoolyard. Friends’ parents also did it, some with great frequency. So I knew right away what my father had done. And yet, how had he known?
My father became physically angry around me . . . once. Other than an occasional spanking—all of which I probably deserved—I was never hit, struck or harmed by Dad. Nada. Zilch. But there was that single time, during Christmas holidays, when we played at the dining room table with a new chess set. On our third or tenth game I checkmated him. He exploded with a roar and his hand swept across the board, knocking the remaining pieces across the table and onto the floor. We never played chess again. I still wonder what really bothered him on that day. Until his dementia in recent years, his anger rarely surfaced in my presence. Continue reading →