Like many people, I have issues, a great weight of baggage that I carry around like some two hundred pound sack of misery. Who's to blame for my 32 years of frustration and disappointment? My parents of course, but I'm not using this space to complain. I'm above cataloging for you here the many ways in which my folks have screwed me up, and I don't want to bore you with some long, detailed list that would take me weeks, if not months, to compile. Anyway, that's what I'm paying my shrink for, right?
No, I'm writing this post from a sense of obligation, because, truth be told, my parents are not all bad. Hell, I'm a grown up now. I like to think I've acquired some measure of maturity along the way and perhaps a dab of wisdom too. I can look past the years of intimidation, negligence, pettiness, alcoholism and spite and focus purely on the positive. So what if there are lingering memories of public humiliation? So what if their preferred method of parenting often included a leather belt and a stream of expletives? No one said being a mom and a dad was easy, and God knows there isn't any formula. I'm sure we were a handful!
Dad, we've had our differences in life to be sure, but I can look back now and smile at the experiences we've shared. How many times did I throw a blanket over you when you'd fallen asleep in that greasy, infected La-Z-Boy? I'd clear away your empties and the pile of spent lottery tickets and tuck you in. Often a thick white froth of spittle had formed on your moustache. I'd wipe it away so gently, knowing that to wake you could result in a costly trip to the dentist.
And mom, I can never forget your special meatloaf--crisp and black on the outside, raw in the middle, and always garnished with the ash of a Virginia Slim. You'd tell me to shut up and eat and forget about the taste, and I did my best to choke it down. I know when you slammed the bottle of ketchup on the table that you were just making sure we got our vegetables for the day.
Looking back, you guys were much more loving than I gave you credit for. I know now when you kicked my "no-good sissy of a brother" out of the house at 14 that it was for his own good. He's been going to church and seems really happy with his third wife. His pastor says that lots of young boys experiment, so I'm sure that whole thing was just a phase. I've been telling him to give you two a call, but you know how stubborn he can be. Don't worry, he'll come around. I can tell when he says things like "I have no parents," that he doesn't really mean it. What a drama queen!
There are other things too, like the Chuck E. Cheese's that Dad got us kicked out of, and my high school graduation, which Dad also got us kicked out of. All that seemed embarrassing at the time, but I just laugh about it now and cherish the fact that we made these memories together as a family.
So, thanks for raising me, Mom and Dad, at least when Grandma and Grandpa weren't. I can't pretend that it was always smooth sailing at the Bowler household, but at least I always had a roof over my head and a few square meals every week.
Pictured above: Mom and Dad putting me out on my ear, ca. 1993