Yesterday morning my mother called and said that she had a second piece of good news for the day for me (I had called her earlier with some good news). My father, Albert Booth, died. Saying that he was an SOB is being nice and none of us have talked to him in years.
My childhood memories were filled with fear. We hid in closets when he went on his rampages. He put his fist thru doors, broke mirrors and anything that he could break. It wasn’t just people he took his anger out on – he kicked dogs across the room, threw them down stairs and over his shoulder. He was not a nice person.
My parents divorced the summer when I was in between the fourth and fifth grades. He was not a very nice person and her attorney advised her to leave town while the papers were being served on him. My aunt and uncle put us on a bus down to Washington DC and we stayed with one of my older cousins and her husband for awhile. Then we went to Harrisburg and stayed with my aunt and uncle there. When school started, we came back to town but stayed with my grandfather for awhile before coming home. It was safer that way.
My father was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – he was very nice around certain people but behind closed doors, the real him came out. I grew up in a small town and a lot of people could not understand how my mother could leave that wonderful man. The neighbors within hearing distance understood because they could hear all the screams. You really don’t know what people are like behind closed doors.
After my parents divorced, I was forced to spend time with him. I didn’t want to go with him and it was a big fight every time he wanted to see us. He would call on the phone and degrade me and my mother. He would degrade both of us when I was at his house. I was told I was “getting fat just like my mother.” Nice thing to tell a young girl. My mother was never fat. She might not have been the size zero he wanted for a wife, but she certainly was not fat. My mother finally quit trying to force me to visit him. When he would come for the other kids, I would either go to my aunt’s house or stay in my room.
My father got married again after the divorce and had a child to that marriage. That woman had two kids to her first husband. My father and her little boy didn’t get along so he was shipped back to his father – lucky for him! Wife number two left after they had a fight over the kid they had together, but she walked out without the kid. At some point, the kid showed up at my brother’s after he had a fight with my Dad. My brother put him on a plane to go out with his mother but he ended up coming back.
There was a wife number three and she died. Then there was a wife number four and they also got divorced.
When we were kids, my father came to visit around Christmas. He had gifts for everyone except me. He followed me into the kitchen and called me a few choice names. He informed me that Lu, wife number two, was wearing my Christmas gift. She was easily a size 18 and I was a skinny little kid so I am sure she was wearing my Christmas gift. That is the kind of man my father was – cruel.
My youngest brother lived down by Pittsburgh and he heard stories about what went on but was too young to remember us hiding in closets. During a fight, wife number three called my brother to come over. My brother said his mouth dropped when he walked in the door because he had never seen our father on one of his rampages. He was pulling the chandeliers out of the ceiling.
My brother and father quit speaking before my brother got married because my father didn’t approve of his choice in a wife and let my brother know. My brother will be married 25 years this month to the same woman and my father had four wives. For at least two ofthe four wives, it was more a matter of a poor choice in husbands!
For a long time, I jumped every time a man would raise their voice. As a kid, I thought all men were like my father and I guess I expected them to go into a rampage. When I was in high school, I started having night terrors. My mother didn’t believe me that anyone could scream like that and not remember what they dreamt about. One night she sat and cried thinking something happened to me as a kid and it was her fault. After I got out of school, my cousins wanted me to get hypnotized because they were sure my father did something that I was trying to repress. They offered to pay for it but I didn’t want to – I figured if I was repressing something, it was better left repressed.
The son from the second marriage called my brother’s old boss trying to get a phone number for my brother. He claimed that he needed our permission to have my father cremated. The old boss would not give the number to him but he did get hold of my brother and that is how we found out our father died.
My sister dropped off an antibiotic for me yesterday on her lunch break so I told her. Neither my brother nor I had been able to find an obituary online so we weren’t sure when it happened. My sister emailed me late last night and said, “we don’t exist.” The obituary forgot about the four kids from his first marriage (and their children) and wife number two was moved up to wife number one.
I sometimes wonder what makes people the way they are. My father had a brother and sister raised by the same parents and they weren’t anything like him. He certainly can’t blame the environment he was raised in on how he treats people.
I can’t say any of us feel bad over him dying – he was never a father to us. I haven’t spoken to him in 40 years. He certainly never tried to reach out to any of us and say he was sorry for the things he did when we were kids. I don’t believe he was ever sorry about what he did. I am grateful that I have a good mother that rescued us from that life.