20081218

Alabama Memories

There is a line from 'Alabama Acres' by Kevin Devine that reads "My fathers sick in the hallway I hear him whistlin' under the door, I rush to lift him but you all know I'm weak and you know that he's heavy; there's no blood in his cheeks but he's smilin' straight at me ... So now we drag him through the kitchen into the living room and down on the carpet; he says 'son I'm embarrassed but the sides of my head hurt, and I just know that I'm tired and I can surely use some rest'; I tear a mattress down for him and I say 'here dad sleep some on this'; I wake for real and it's over, I'm alone at acres and my dad is still dead".

It probably means little to some people but it brings back weird memories for me. One for instance, was from when I was about 13, shortly before my dad died; we had a small pool, it was hot, and we didn't have AC that year. My dad, pretty sick at this point with a failing liver, was in the pool on a raft. He'd asked me to do something for him, for the life of me I can't remember these days. I was walking back into the house, and I looked back at my dad, who was staring straight at me. His face was white, trimmed with dark hair all around his face making the pale a deathly white. He had jaundice from toxicity in his blood, so his eyes looked yellowed and bloodshot. The color of his eyes were stark black, and you could barley tell where his iris and pupil met. I have a resentful feeling when this memory comes up, and I'm not sure why. I know he wanted us (my brothers and I) to get in the pool with him. We didn't because we were mean children that maybe didn't love him enough, maybe because he didn't love us enough, I'm not sure. In any case, I remember looking into those dark eyes, that still haunt me in dreams to this day. Was he scowling at me maybe, is that why I feel resentment? Maybe it is a memory that has evolved over time, I'm not really sure.

So the second part of that line brings back a different memory all together, and that is when my dad was so intoxicated he could not walk, and he would ping-pong through the hall to the bathroom. He often fell, and would cry and call for help. We had all, at some point, grown tired of this, and often let him lay thinking it would do him good to lay there too far from his beloved bottle of alcohol. I always think of how cruel I was, that I had terrible thoughts of my dad. He wasn't all bad, but when he was bad, it was worse than bad. The sad memories I have of him, and even the memory of his voice is of that image stuck in my head, of a pathetic grown man who wore his life down to laying on the floor crying and calling for help, and two of us having to help him because we were too weak alone.

And in the end, after those memories fade in and out, I do wake, and he is still gone. I miss him, and I don't. You would have had to been there to understand any of this anyway.

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