Dad Takes Off

After my mom took my sister and left the house (What’s Going On?), I was really getting antsy.  Dad, when’s the producer coming?

Still he didn’t answer.  I looked over at him, and noticed that he had a weird, vacant look on his face.

Dad, what’s going on?

Then he looked over at me.  He looked well … different.  His eyes were kind of glassy-looking.  He then said:  Do you believe in God and the devil?

What? 

Do you believe in God and the devil?

Dad, what’s happening?

Dad then got out of his rocking chair and started to walk towards me (I still get goosebumps now when I think of it).  All of a sudden I was really scared and started backing away from him.  He began to follow me, repeating the same odd question.

forgiveI had already taken off my shoes after my sister and I had gotten back to the house, so all I had on were knee-socks and my skirt for school.  But it didn’t matter – I was scared and all I could think of at that point was that I needed to get out of the house.

I ran through to the living room where there was a sliding glass door, opened it quickly, and ran outside – of course it was raining now!  It didn’t matter, I just started running down the street.  At one point I turned around, and saw dad poking his head out the glass door, just watching me.

What was I going to do?  What had happened to my dad?  Where should I go?  I need to go and warn my sister!  Mom most likely dropped her off at school when they left.

I kept running as fast as I could, getting sopping wet, sticking to side streets and shortcuts whenever I could – just in case dad was trying to find me.  Finally I got to Sonja’s school.  It was recess time, and thankfully I saw one of her friends out on the playground.

I can’t imagine what I must’ve looked like, but I ran over to her and asked her where my sister was.  She said she’d never come to school that day – now what should I do?

I left the school and ran across the street where I noticed a little woodsy area by a church.  I ran in the woods, crying my eyes out.  I was terrified by now, and finally sat down on a log and just wept.  I’m not sure how long I was there, but all of a sudden I heard a voice:

Are you okay?

Somehow the pastor of the church either saw or heard me out in the woods and had come to investigate.  He took me inside, and after I repeated my story he started asking me for names of mother’s friends so he could start making phone calls to find out where she was.

not-understandingFinally he was able to locate her, and she was frantic as she’d been trying to call the house to make sure I was okay and no one was answering the phone.

She and my sister came to pick me up, and then she called the police and asked them to meet us at the house.  When we arrived, there was dad, just sitting and rocking in his favorite chair.  He didn’t seem flustered at all with everyone barging in, but instead just calmly said, I must’ve had a breakdown…

The police arranged to have him taken to the VA hospital psyche ward.  We all went to visit him a few days later.  He seemed more normal, yet there was also a difference about him.  I remember we sat in a large conference-type room, and he asked a new friend of his to sing and play for us a song on his guitar:  The House of the Rising Sun.  Every time I hear that song now, I am immediately brought back to that day.

It was hard leaving.  How had this all happened?  My heart was breaking for my “old dad” and the closeness we had shared.  Little did I know as we left that it was the last time I was ever to see him…

A week or so later my mom got a phone call that dad, who had been given the job of locking and unlocking the doors to the ward, had run away.  The staff had been unable to find him – he was gone and no one knew where he had went.

As time passed we tried to get back to normal at home, but things just never were the same.  However a few months later a letter came in the mail addressed to me in scrawny handwriting.  For the return address it just stated:  Salvation Army, San Francisco.  It was from my dad, and it said that he was fine, and had “found Jesus.”  I never heard from him again.

But the story doesn’t end there…

 

 

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