I am reading a book right now called “House Rules.” It is a memoir of a girl named Rachel who had a verbally and mentally abusive father. It is a fascinating book, but so sad. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to do research to find out her fathers name, track down where he lives, and kill him. Rachel got taken away and put into a girls home when she was in high school to give her a break from her home life. When she was put back into her home, one of the conditions was that she and her dad would go to counseling together. They went to counseling alright, and he made her pay for every session. He said that these were her problems and he had nothing to do with it. The book is filled with hundreds more horrible examples of the abuse that this family was put through because of their deadbeat father.
Reading this book makes me think of my own dad. He is the complete opposite of the man described in “House Rules.” I would love to write a memoir someday about him, but nobody likes to read memoirs about normal, happy, healthy families. In her Introduction, Rachel Sontag explained that when she was at a dinner party one time and mentioned that she was writing her first memoir a man asked “who’s the monster, your mom or dad?” She replied “neither, we were a normal family with normal issues.” He asked again and again “who was the monster, mom or dad?” She finally answered “my dad.”
Isaac is going on a business trip tomorrow and I asked him to bring me back a treat from Texas. So many memories came flooding back from when my sisters and I were all little and my dad would go on business trips several times a month. When he would get home we would run right past him and dart into his suitcase. He ALWAYS had treats for us. Sometimes we would act like savages and dig through his suitcase until we found our treats. Other times he would sit all five of us (including mom) down on the couch and give each of us a special present. He knew us, loved us, and gave us special gifts that he took the time to pick out.
Dad taught me about taxes. My sisters and I would do chores around the house and go out to get ice cream with him pretty frequently. White Chocolate Mousse was a staple in our weekly diets, hence the awkward overweight childhood pictures. When we were indulging in our desserts he would reach over, take a heaping spoonful, and devour it. He would ask all four of us girls “Did you work hard for that ice cream?” with confusion we answered “yes.” He responded “Now I am going to take a bite of each of your desserts, that is a tax. Someday you will understand.” Well, its someday! And I understand! And I think his little tax lesson is genius and hysterical.
Dad used to take me to work with him on occasion when he worked in the Pentagon and at Crystal City. He would introduce me to all his co-workers and bring me down to the shop in the Pentagon to get lemon frozen yogurt. I remember walking next to him SO proud as each person we passed by saluted him. Looking back, I can only imagine how busy his days were; he held a senior position in the Future Weapons Department. When I went to work with him, he would talk to me and answer all my silly questions as if I were the most important person at the Pentagon that day. He would take me to the gift shop and buy me t-shirts with sayings like “Somebody at the Pentagon loves me.” At the end of one our daddy-daughter workdays he asked what I thought of his job. I answered “Its fine, you pretty much just play on the computer all day though.”
15 years later I still think about those precious memories with my dad. Now I “play on the computer” all day at work too, and still think the world of my dad.