I leave work to drive the 20-mile distance to get to Dad. I know him. I know the inflections in his voice and I understand him when he feels down, or hurt. It is easy to discern people when you have been around them all your life. I knew that something was wrong but I just couldn’t figure it out. Is he sick? Does he need money for bills that he can no longer pay? Does he need food? He’s older now, so everything crossed my mind as I pondered what could be wrong.
I am driving so fast, yet I don’t realize it. I have the pedal to the medal, as dad would say when he rides with me. “Stop driving so fast. You’ll get a ticket.” I recalled him saying that so many times that when I am aware that I am speeding I smile knowing what he would say if he saw me driving like a bat out of hell. But I am going to see him to see what is wrong. To help him with whatever is ailing him.
As I drive, I think of a lot of things. See, I am the oldest daughter out of 4 girls. But I am the first girl out of three boys who arrived into this world before me. My parents had eight children. Before my parents married they actually lived together for almost ten years. Mom had three boys when they met and then my parents sort of broke up. My mother started seeing another guy. She became pregnant with me, and then my parents got back together. While carrying a child by another man, he told her that I was still his daughter. All my life he never treated me any different from his children, which were the four born after me.
Looking back at the beginning of his courtship with my mother you had to know that he was a good man. He met a woman with three little boys, dated her, raised her boys as his own and provided them with a good life. In these days it’s hard to find a man who would date a woman with three small children and take on the task of being their financial provider; but he did and he didn’t complain once. He loved my mother and because of that, love he loved her children.
I laugh when I think about my sister. She is one year younger than I, but is his biological daughter. On this particular day, I was standing in the hall talking to my father about getting me another car. I had just turned 17. The one that I had was causing me problems and I no longer felt comfortable or safe driving it at night. He agreed that I needed something better.
“Lynn, when I get off this weekend, we’ll go looking for another car.”
“That’s what I’m talking about!” I shouted.
Suddenly my sister Beth burst into the room screaming: “how dare you Dad!”
“What are you hollering for?” He asked her with a twisted face. He was getting angry.
“Why are you getting her another car?”
“Because she needs it.”
“I don’t understand, she is not even your daughter and you treat her better than your real kids.”
I was stunned. This was my sister. Never in all my life had she ever said anything like that. After all, we had the same mother. But, she stood there, angry, steadfast, as if I had taken the only parent she had left; and she wasn’t having it.