Monday, September 5, 2005

The Day I Decided to Stand

Seven years ago the family was together at Chilli's for dinner. Everyone was in town, including Sarah, the first grandchild, my first neice. She insisted on sitting next to Grandpa, which my sister let her do. I sat across from them. Being a normal 'almost 2 year old', Sarah hadn't quite masterd the use of crayons. She was working so hard to color, but kept going off the kids menu onto the table. Dad just couldn handle it. You can almost see his eyes turn red as he growls in an almost demonic voice "Don't you dare do that again." I see her fear and confusion. What did I do wrong? Is coloring bad? How did I make Grandpa so mad? What can't I do again? I see it and I feel the shame and devestation in hear little innocent heart. It's the same thing he did to me, to all of us, over and over our whole lives. She timidly goes back to coloring for the fifth time, chosing a different crayon. Maybe it was the color she had used that made grandpa so angry. After a few minutes she feels Ok and gets excited again. She goes off the paper. It starts all over.
I know Melissa sees the way he talked to her baby girl. I see the fire in her eyes, but still she doesn't say a word. She leaves to go to the bathroom. I don't understand.

Sarah is coloring away happily again. Everyone is talking and acting like they don't know that Dad is in a 'mood'. Sarah drops the yellow crayon and crawls down under the table to get it.

That's when it happened. I felt the whole world stop. I saw my father reach down and violently wrench his only precious grandchild up by her tiny little arm and throw her back in the booster seat.
That's when I stood. With my brothers and sisters staring at me in shock, I told my father exactly what would happen. If I ever saw him hurt a child again, he would never see any child of mine. He would never be involved in their lives. I walked away from the table, out the door and got in my car. No one ever said a word. No one ever has. I had just turned 19.

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Travis and I had to face it this week. There have been a few instances where he hassnapped with Selah, and my stomach just drops to my feet. It's just that he's changed so much. I see him be so much more loving than he ever was before. But the anger is still there. I've never seen him touch her.
A few weeks ago everyone was out of town, leaving my Dad at home alone for the first time in years. We decided to take him with us to a Braves game. Selah was so excited. Like any other 2 year old would, she wanted to climb all over all of us to see better. She wanted to do the wave. She screamed and clapped, sometimes when no one else was. I was dealing with Jacob who was hot and miserable. Travis sat on one side of me and my Dad on the other. Selah decided it was time to climb on Grandpa and jump and scream. I knew he was starting to get irritated.
I wasn't sure what I saw. It was just a flash out of the corner of my eye. His hand moved, she arched her back. She quickly came to me and crawled up on my lap. She rested her head on my shoulder and cuddled. "What happened, Dad?" I asked. "Nothing" he said. I peeked at her back and I wasn't sure if I saw red marks of not. It was kind of dark.
The next morning I saw the proof. I didn't expect it. I was putting a dress on her and thought I should check her back, just in case. There in the middle of her tiny delicate back were 4 big bruises, clearly from large fingertips thrust into her back. I was devestated. The floor fell out from beneath me. I held her and I cried.
We didn't confront them until this week. It was hard. I wanted to cool down. I wanted to be loving. We basically told them that he needed to get counseling and start working on anger management,or they will not be able to see our kids anymore. He took it much more humbly than I've ever seen him before. He cried and asked forforgiveness, which we willingly gave. But forgiveness doesn't mean that we can leave our kids there again. It was really stressfull. Hehas changed so much for the better since I was a child. I hope thatthis helps even more. We are still spending time with the wholefamily, but I am watching very carefully. I'm really just waitingfor the next blowup. If he makes one move that I don't like, we willstop all contact until I have proof from a professional that he hasmade progress. I don't know if we should threaten to report them. Ijsut don;t know how far to go with it. Compared to some of the sickstuff out there, he's pretty mild. I have no doubt that he loves usall. He's just never been taught how to deal with his anger.

1 comment:

Kelly Robinson said...

Talitha,

Reading this makes me so sad. I remember when we were both little and had church at your house. I don't remember exactly what happened but I do recall your father hitting you in the face and your nose bleeding. I am facing a similar dilemma with my father and my first child now. Growing up my father rarely touched us physically but when he did we feared his temper. I remember being held up against the wall by the neck and starting to pass out. As a result of him trying to "control" himself many things in our home were broken. There was a constant reminder of what would happen if you make daddy mad: a dent in the fridge, a hole through the door, a smashed in hot water heater and flooded hallway. As a child I was SO afraid but as I grew up I thought it was funny that a grown man would act so childish when he was angry. The "HULK" I started calling him because of the bulging neck and temples. He would yell and scream and threaten to beat us up, put us in the hospital, throw out all our stuff, etc. One night we though the house would fall in as he punched support beams in the garage that held up the house. Now my child is just a few months old but my sister's daughter is 2 and I've seen him lose his patience with her and yell. Does he want his grandchildren to be as afraid of him as his own children?. My mom is always saying how much better he is now but better is not always O.K. I don't want him around my daughter and I certainly won't tolerate him acting this way towards her. How did you ultimately resolve this? Whenever I've tried to bring it up or left my parents house because of his attitude he doesn't take is seriously.