A nod to Marcel Pagno, ‘La Gloire de mon Pere’…
The first commandment with a promise is HONOUR THY FATHER AND MOTHER, THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG ON THIS EARTH, AND THAT THINGS MIGHT GO WELL WITH YOU…
I guess my Dad honoured his, because he is 83 this year, and lives an active life. He has a racehorse in England with a trainer, he has 3 greyhounds competing successfully in Ireland, also resident with trainers…he usually has a young horse in the stable, a mare too….and perhaps a visiting piebald coloured pony in the field beside the house. The dog paddock houses young German short-haired pointers, or beautiful Springer spaniels….always working dogs, trained to perfection….
Dad goes dancing for relaxation ! and still manages to jive despite having two false knees and two false hips, a couple of them done twice now.
I have no idea where to start or finish, except I felt it a fitting thing to do…one wonders do the dead hear their own eulogies?? Not that I anticipate his soon demise….
which leads me to a story
I can’t help it if God through His Word, or through an audible voice, a gentle touch on the shoulders, a healing hand on my damaged left lung…or a loving gaze right in my face…TALKS TO ME!
I’m certainly not alone in having ‘visitations, dreams and visions’ but to my secular friends it probably sounds whacky… to my Jesus it would definitely sound hypocritical if I denied it….an I sure wouldn’t like to be denied in Heaven!
so do with it what you will…I am a good candidate for sounding and being whacky, but the very fact I can write about it should qualify the diagnosis?
So a good few years ago, 1996 I think, Dad came to England where I arranged for him to have a knee replacement in Addenbrooks Hospital in Cambridge. He had worked most of his young life in England and had accrued sufficient national insurance, and the surgeons there were superb.
Dad’s only physical weak spot though was his chest, I inherited the Power family weakness for asthma, bronchitus, pneumonia, pleuresy etc. Dad had never smoked, and drank little and rarely, but he got a very severe infection which quickly turned to double pneumonia, and it seemed like he might not survive this post-surgery complication. He was 71 at the time.
My Mum and youngest sister were in Ireland. My other big sisters lived in London and the Isle of Wight. S. and I were the only two semi local to Cambridgeshire and it was a drive of an hour and a half. We both had young children but took turns visiting every day.
It was my turn, and the hospital had said Dad had a post op chest infection. I set off in my car but it broke down. I just parked it best I could, and hitch-hiked. Two lifts got me to the door of the hospital. Dad was deteriorating fast, and I phoned S. to make child care arrangements for my children, and bunkered down for the weekend.
My bed at night was two upright armchairs pushed together in the relatives room. I only slept a few hours anyway. Dad was unconscious and on morphine as well as a drip and various other paraphernalia. I pressed the pain release on the morphine every ten minutes for up to 20 hours a day as he groaned and moaned in pain, hardly able to breathe.
I loved my Dad. I still do. Always have. To such a symbiotic extent in years past that I used to pray to God not to let my Dad die until I was happily married so I would have support to get over ‘losing’ him.
The prayer still stands, although I have grown up, and the terror of losing him has been tempered by the revelation of or admission to myself that he was and is far from perfect. Like us all, I guess. We each are a product of our own history, and without the fullness of God in our hearts we just do the best we can with what we have…
So, being ‘born-again’ and having gotten the ‘gift of tongues’ in 1989 in California, I prayed as I had never prayed before. For hours and days, by-passing my exhausted and often obstructive mind, crying out to God, half asleep, half awake…save my Dad, don’t let him die, heal him, let him BE healed…nothing too fanciful but at least educated with the knowledge that healing had already been purchased for him by Jesus…
On the third day, I felt led to the story in the Bible of King Hezekiah…I’m not good with references, I need a research assistant or patience with an online concordance! Briefly, this King in the old testament was dying. He had I think turned his head to the wall and his life was slipping from him. But because of prayers, and in mercy, God granted him a supernatural extension of his life of 15 years. If my memory serves me right (and it may not, I read the Bible like prose and hide it in my heart) it was confirmed with an awesome sign and wonder, namely the shadow of the sun going BACKWARDS contrary to science, physics and possibility…
I felt the prayer battle was over. I was ‘young’ in my faith and a bit hesitant to believe what the Spirit was saying…but deep inside I knew it was true. Dad would live and not die. And he would live another 15 years.
A few days later I was at a theatre in rural Suffolk and they had a technical hitch with the lighting…it re-created a modern day sign reminiscent of the sun being arrested in the sky…the shadow of a person on stage moved strangely and again I felt the wind of the Spirit.
Dad recovered. Years later, vulnerable again after more orthopaedic surgery this time in Ireland, Dad was once more on death’s door and all the family were called to his bedside, from England as well as locally. But as my daughter wept hysterically at the prospect of losing the only consistent father figure she had ever had, I reassured her from the depths of my spirit that he would not die. She knows God and she recognised the truth.
So this second time in doctor-defying mystery Dad lived on.
For 13 years he has lived on. I believe he has another two at least left in him. When people encourage me to make peace with him from a place of fear ‘because he could die any day at his age’ I remember a peace inside that has stayed with me for 13 years. If Dad leaves this earth before the Rapture he will only precede us by a year or five…that’s my guess and gut feeling anyway…and the signs are tumbling into place in this earth
Dad knew something profound had happened. He had always been afraid of my version of worship, the praying in tongues, the direct communion with a God he had always feared and honoured but never really known…but he was so glad to be prayed for and over…
The second near death experience a few years ago where he nearly bled out on the operating table…is one he would not like to repeat. He has placed a ‘do not resuscitate’ note on his medical records for future eventualities, as has Mum. But only because his life is not yet truly happy in terms of the disunity and unresolved pain rife amongst his daughters, grandchildren and indeed between himself and Mum.
It’s not over Dad. It a’int over till the fat lady sings….sorry, that’s not scripture, but you know!
And so to the difficult stuff…readers of previous chunks of my writing will know my Dad’s father was a sex offender and paedophile. Never reported. Never talked about until now outside of our immediate family. Any attempts to open it up even just within the clan were resisted mysteriously…
My Dad will tell wonderful stories of his parents…he and all his 10 siblings did, some still do It seems particularly catholic to revere one’s parents to the point of idolatry and put them on pedestals in a way endorsed and promoted by the catholic education system at the hands of nuns and brothers, whose memories dim…
the commandment enforced in a legalistic dead way to the point of denial and unreported suffering.
The guy who wrote ANGELA’S ASHES was ostracised by portions of his family decrying his brilliant depiction of life in poverty-stricken Limerick in the 50’s….it was so poignantly accurate but no one culturally wants to examine their own flaws and admit to despair and destruction where they had hoped there were ‘poor but happy’ normal childhood memories.
Emigration as a part of the Irish psyche too, helped the rose tinted glasses stay firmly in place. Nostalgia dims bad memories like nothing else.
And just as with my own father, I do not doubt my Dad’s love for his, and there are probably happy memories for him to draw on. Ignorance can in some ways be bliss, but freedom casts a shadow over what had previously been considered normal.
The only strange story I will relate of my grand dad in my father’s childhood is his warped sense of humour, tinged always with just a touch of cruelty. He had his 11 children hold hands, comical in itself as they came regularly at annual intervals due to the ‘no contraception’ doctrine in the Catholic church. Then he would have the end child grab an electric fence. Knowing the children would not dare disobey him. They held hands pathetically as this old man roared laughing watching the shock pass through the youngest to the oldest of his children, one by confused one.
Laughter elicited, when underneath is pain and fear and confusion… is a trend which has continued down the generations. Even tickling as a child felt to me like torture because it never stopped, it was my Dad’s favourite game, and no amount of pleas for mercy would end the pain-tinged laughter. It taught me from a young age I was helpless.
But then I was a sensitive child….
Many cousins, even a couple of my sisters, still maintain the other version of our childhood as having been idyllic. From the outside looking in one might be forgiven for thinking that….it did not bear too close scrutiny though, and many aunts, uncles and family friends knew all was not well behind closed doors in our house. Some even voiced concern, but my Dad was not a man to challenge or annoy.
I will not try to recreate my Dad’s childhood, I was not there. His mother apparently ruled the roost. She was a devout godly woman and I adored her. As an adult I have to question why she did not see anything to alarm her about her spouse. In many arenas they say the wife is always the last to know.
Although I read a harrowing article by an Irish female journalist whose father was a violent, alcoholic paedophile. Her mother, to avoid violence, would say to the journalist as a child when the drunken father returned from the pub and collapsed angrily on the bed, “Go up and settle Daddy, you’re the only one can peacify him and it’s better that way” Made me go cold just to read….does an ignorant bystander have blood on their hands?
My Grandad was not particularly violent as far as I know, though cruel and in my opinion alcoholic. Functioning alcoholic. Hard 4 job working alcoholic. But still. It was referred to as ‘Daddy just liked a few whiskies and a few pounds on the horses’
MY OWN FATHER WAS NEVER TO MY KNOWLEDGE SEXUALLY ABUSIVE. Maybe I should have stated that earlier in this catalogue of tragedy of 4 generations. His father was a sex offender. My Dad was molested by someone else in his teens; my mother was assaulted by Grandad as a young mother. Myself and one of my sisters too. And sadly the next generation. It will unfold. This is Daddy, a tribute to my Daddy….
The unhappy stuff is hard to write. I have some of it on film footage. When I am raw. Suicidal. But I can feel myself disconnecting at the prospect of delving into past pain so for now I will stop short.
Just let it be known that failure to express and expose pain internalises it. And is like a root of bitterness or cancer that kills.
I WILL LIVE AND NOT DIE.
Then turn and heal my family. In Jesus Name.
I am posting this and will add to it. It is Good Friday. And Sunday is on the way.
A few days later….I am 51 years old. I have an orange belt in karate, a mouth like a fishwife and a temper like an Italian when I am riled…but my 82 year old father can still reduce me to a blithering fearful child…I locked myself in my house in post traumatic shock, shivering and smoking and drinking the day I posted ‘Apology’….
I need to grow up…I love him still….most fear at this stage of my life is in my head…and psyche…branded like a sheep or cow on the prairie….but I have a different DNA now. And my mission is nothing short of re-wiring my personality! I am a new creation, no more in condemnation….be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your minds!
Still slow, pain-staking and fog falling hard tho!
Angela Power Like I said, I have my 76 year old drunk mother with leukaemia here hiding from my 82 year old Dad with a shotgun….PLEASE PRAY! And no drama….greater is He who is in me than…..even my beloved Dad….devil you are busted and pathetic and hilarious….a spectacle indeed
Krista Clifton Adkins at 8:57pm April 17
Hey I am praying Angela Power at 9:12pm April 17
Thanks. I rang the police but my Dad already told them his wife is an alcoholic and he ‘won’t be responsible for what he might do if provoked’….hate the sin, love the sinner. My Dad should not have a gun license, he threatens my Mum regularly, and threatened to kill her and his 5 daughters including me 40 years ago….God will reveal what has been secret and bring to the light things hidden in darkness
Rhian Graham at 9:27pm April 17
Praying for you and family.
x Angela Power at 6:43am April 18
Makes me sad that a domestic violence plea for prayer only elicits two responses…but where 2 or 3 are gathered together at least Jesus shows up. Thanks. x
Kate Hamilton at 10:08am April 18
I had a word with JC last night for you xx Angela Power at 10:57am April 18
Thanks sweetie. Morning has broken and Mother wants to go home. Ah well. Guess if she hasn’t left in 54 years…..? Ain’t over till the fat lady sings. xx
So anyone reading my status today can see there is a CRISIS unfolding. Mum broke 20 years sobriety when my niece started court proceedings against my ex brother in law for child sexual abuse. 3 generations of secrets threatened to come tumbling out of the closet like dirty skeletons held together by lies and cover up like a foul toupe on an ageing politician or lipstick on a matron…..
A cousin who has been treacherous in her dealings with my mother and I…indeed even with her own father who passed away in an unseemly manner last year…well, this cousin has sided with my father and pronounced that the family is righteous and my mother and I troublesome.
Then she asked for hospitality in my parents home. And at a dinner party they held recently for a visiting cousin from England…and on both occasions my mother squared up to her and declined hospitality in the interest of cards on the table.
So my father in a fury told my mother there was only one person in the world he hated more than her, and that was me. Quick as a flash and brave in her cups, my mother replied, ‘Maybe it’s because your father abused both of us!’
My Dad then told her if she ever dared utter those words again he would shoot her with his shotgun or strangle her with his bare hands. He has a gun license, despite having threatened to do this for decades, indeed he said he would shoot each of his five daughters in front of her….
FEAR AND INTIMIDATION…..you only need to believe a threat for it to torment and torture you for the rest of your life.
And Mum had reason to believe threats. I don’t want to tell her story. I want to tell mine. Yet my niece in her courage to go public, has catapulted me into finding my voice, and perhaps even at this late stage my Mother might make a break for freedom.
The most horrific childhood memory I have, outside of being sexually abused, is sitting outside my parents bedroom as my father violently raped my mother. Many would say there is no such thing as marital rape. But there is. My Dad forced my mothers thighs open, knelt on them to pin her down, and penetrated brutally and uninvited in total cruelty.
I shook and trembled crouched outside the door yet transfixed and too terrified to rescue my mother. What chance had I, at the hands of a man who had beaten me so severely in the past I could not walk the next day….instilled so much fear in me that at the age of 15 I would still wet myself in total terror as he approached to hit me…threw my sister across the room so forcefully she fractured her skull against an open aluminium framed window. Instilled so much fear in me that my sisters and I regularly vowed we would go to the police and show them our bruises. But we would even set off bravely and united, the 3 eldest of us…and then we would think, well Daddy will go to jail. And we will go to childrens’ homes….and we would return home, once again beaten into helpless submission.
One time, after my sister had been brutally beaten with an old fashioned wooden hanger, we set an alarm to leave at 4 am, to run away when everyone was asleep. I woke my sister, I think the eldest one was already in state care by this time, for ‘inexplicable’ violent tendencies and chronic shop-lifting. But my next eldest sister only 11 months older than me, the one who got the worst beating that night. I woke her for us to make a run for freedom. I had never been more determined.
But she had changed her mind. She said she couldn’t ‘do that’ to Daddy. She guiltily offered me her Post Office Savings book with ten shillings in it. I was disgusted at her weakness. So I went back to bed defeated by default.
The worst beating I got was the last. My father never lifted a hand against me or my sisters again after this incident. But it was another nail in the coffin of my grasp on life and sanity.
I smoked from the age of 11. Neither of my parents smoked or drank in our childhood. My mother only became actively addictive in her 30’s and 40’s….first with Valium and Librium, then alcohol.
All my sisters and I smoked. My mother, despite her failure to really protect us, nonetheless instilled in us a rebellious spirit, a survival instinct, a fight or die aspiration that eluded her…
And my father tried to beat us into submission and obedience. I was caught smuggling cigarettes into the house by a friend. I wet myself predictably, knowing what was coming. He systematically beat me in a slow and studied fashion, each blow that rained down was accompanied with ice cold verbal brutality. The beating went on and on and on, until I don’t remember blacking out or falling or whatever mercifully brought it to an end.
My Dad returned triumphant to the restaurant we owned below, which was packed with up to 150 clients on a busy Saturday night. But something in me rose up like a rage that was volcanic and I decided I cared not if I lived or died. I had crossed over to that place of fearlessness that is borne of despair and a snapped mind, a broken spirit…but not quite.
I deliberately threw open my bedroom window which looked over the courtyard at the side of the bar…and I screamed like a banshee. I screamed as loud as I could at the top of my lungs, delighted to cause a stir. Wanting to embarass and humiliate my father as he had so often done to me. His worst nightmare was that people would know.
He raced upstairs to beat me again into submission. But then he saw my eyes. At 15 years old, 8 stone something, 5′ 4″ I stared at him in hatred and self-loathing and screamed, ‘Hit me again, go on, hit me…I don’t care. I don’t care if you kill me. I want to die.” And I continued to taunt him and bait him as he had taunted me between each brutal blow raining down on my young body.
There is a moment in time where you can face down a bully, even a potential murderer, and catch them off guard. This was such a moment, fuelled as much by his embarassment at the customers being able to hear the screaming…
He turned and literally fled from my bedroom, screaming for my mother, telling her quick quick she has lost her mind…
She held me down as he forced valium down my throat against my will. Treachery. She could not look at me. How could you betray me Mum?
I had not told them of the 3 sexual abusers who had robbed my innocence over the previous 4 years and broken my mind already. They just thought I suffered with my nerves. And was rebellious.
I passed out soon after, drugged to submission, and the next awareness I had was of my mother still looking sheepish and guilty and embarassed, opening my bedroom curtains the next morning. She spoke to me in gentle motherly tones, and as I woke the horror of the night before flooded in again and I looked at her with disbelief. I told her of my shameful wetting. She saw my battered body, saw me stagger as I tried to obey her in getting up an dressed.
And she tried to tell me it was my just desserts for smoking. ‘You know Daddy doesn’t want you to smoke, and especially not to tell lies…’ I could not make sense of this. Yes indeed I was a transgressor….but I knew in my spirit this was neither normal nor just desserts.
They did as they often did when I ‘suffered with my nerves’….they hid me away. They were due to fly to Ireland the next day for a week visiting my Dad’s family. I can’t remember who was to mind us children.
But clearly I could not be left behind to spill the beans or give sight of bruises and battering beyond any merit of corporal punishment.
So they took me with them. I had screamed at my Dad in my final rebellion ‘I hope you die, I hope your plane crashes tomorrow, I wish you were dead…’
and my wry comment the next morning in a humour I developed to mask pain was, ‘Oh cos I said I hoped the plane crashes, so you want me to die with you’
Nothing so dramatic. They gave me a coke in a hotel in Ireland, then dropped me off half-alive and traumatised for my Auntie the nun to look after me for a week. Quietly. With no fuss. No questions. Just Angela suffering with her nerves. And needing ‘a little break’ to study for her O’ Levels.
And they drove off together to enjoy their week’s holiday.
My mother is asleep upstairs, afraid like a child as I was last week. Her fears like mine, are probably fear-based and flash back than real.
Her hands are not clean. She should have got help decades ago. I knew every time we were beaten her eyes showed the shame. But she always ignored that mother instinct and drowned in her own helplessness as the stamp of violence was placed indelibly on our little spirits.
I DO NOT HATE MY DAD. Until a couple decades ago, I longed for his approval in every area of my life. I dreaded losing him or his glorious love. Love. What love?
My 2 younger sisters did not experience him as particularly violent.
My 2 eldest still revere him as he did his own brutal father. Although Kathy has apparently cut him off since his betrayal of her daughter in court. Or has she? My Mum said something tonight that made me think Kathy has been in touch. Like abused wives constantly returning to a violent husband. We all want to be Daddy’s girl, Daddy’s favourite, and finally possibly ever Daddy’s adored….
what a twisted model of love.
Enough for now. I will write again, and probably down play the drama of tonight and remember once again the wondrous glorious things about my father….
but for now my pathetic, dying mother lies in bed upstairs with my doors locked and prayer the only defence against a bullet for each of us from my father….I am sure he has fantasised about finally silencing us. Finally elicitng submission from these damned, over-educated, Bible quoting English rebels.
God forgive you Dad.
A week later….
I can’t re read right now the last update. It often takes anger for me to access bad memories…I remember doing an anger workshop in an ex marine boot camp in the Napa Valley…it was set up really well with a padded gym horse and baseball bats and support staff etc. But no matter what I did, I could not break through the anger stored in my body and soul. Every time I would try and access it to release it I would be doubled over in agony with pain in my back. They say the back is the seat of anger in the body, and unresolved past anger can cause havoc and chronic pain.
So decades later I try to heal myself through writing, but not from some selfish teenage yearning for catharsis, but in a passionate conviction that the truth will set not just me free, but my family and loved ones and countless others….
My Dad is also a man who is larger than life and has many beautiful qualities. I asked him once on a visit home from America, why he had beaten us so severely as children. He replied he knew no better, it was the way he had been raised. Then he spoiled it by trying to induce shame in me for asking, assuring me that he would never ‘sling mud at his parents door and would just remain eternally loyal and devoted to them for all they did for him….Instead of an apology I got another slap though this time not literally. I revere and honour my parents….I just want it to be real and authentic and healing and borne of mutual love and respect. Not some nostalgic submissive deluded devotion that places them on a pedestal and leaves me yearning still for love and approval that may never come.
So I will try and finish this off with happy memories. Unless another horror rears its head in my memory…but every horror is couched with love and love does indeed cover a multitude of sins.
Dad visited me in California in 1986 when my daughter was a baby. He babysat her and a friend’s baby for an entire weekend whilst we both did a Werner Erhard course…I think I was actually working on it. He was magnificent. My friend paid him 250 dollars for the weekend’s sitting, and he went and spent the lot on a beautiful opal ring in Chinatown to take home for my mother.
He also blew his last 100 bucks in New York on his way back to Ireland on the prettiest chi chi frilly red dress for my daughter and he had it mailed to us. Such a sweet exciting adorable extravagant present, which was rare because he left all present buying to Mum usually.
He taught babies under 18 months to swim when he was stationed in Masirah. He fed vast numbers of poor in Karachi from the back door of the huge officers mess kitchens…he made curry with the vast leftovers of really good food, and only desisted reluctantly when ordered to do so by his commanding officer because the word was spreading and the numbers were increasing daily at an alarming rate.
In Germany he gave the leftovers to local pig farmers for swill, the best gourmet swill a bunch of pigs ever had. Those pig farmers became life long friends.
Dad drove 120 miles each way to see me perform in a couple plays at University. In my first year alone I performed in 22 plays and 2 films, was rehearsing or performing every night and got warned by faculty to cut back an study harder! The first was Oedipus and I was Jocasta… Dad bought me a bouquet of flowers presented at the encores and took me to a beautiful French restaurant for after play dinner…he made me feel like I was a star and I treasure the memory. The next play he came to see caused a stir and consternation on my part because it was a comedy, Snoo Wilson’s The Pleasure Principle I think, and the lead role, fortunately not me that time, had a full frontal nudity scene! And to make matters worse, my Dad brought a country Irish bachelor guy with him who had seldom left Dungarvan and thought he’d died and gone to Heaven when he saw the play….either that or he was hell-bound and scandalised and would need to go to confession the moment he returned home!!
At the end of my second year at University, I rang Dad and asked him to collect my beloved mare (see my wedding photo on Divorce note) because I needed to put my head down and study for finals. He said I would have to pay his petrol money for bringing the horse lorry up…I was a poor student and said Hell no, I’ll ride her home. My mother thought that was a fun idea and set it up as a charity fund raiser….in the end my mare went lame and couldn’t do the ride, but by then we had huge sponsorship and publicity, so Dad drove up with 2 fresh young horses for the ride, my younger sister to join me, my mare travelling in style behind us, with Dad totally in support mode for the entire long distance ride which took 5 days. I have never had his company for such a concentrated period of time in my life and it was a revelation to me and a delight. We raised thousands and thousands in 1980 and presented the cheque to Jimmy Savile for the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries hospital amidst great fanfare. The whole family had worked together on what had started as a flippant remark and a madcap idea. I wrote a childrens book about it called The Mandeville Marathon.
My Dad bought a semi derelict listed building in a quaint wealthy little town in Wiltshire when he came out of the Air Force. He converted the 4 story building into a 150 seater restaurant, steak house, with a bar, and our living quarters upstairs. He was a chef to rival Gordon Ramsey, same temperament, just without the f word. Mum was maitress d’ and I graduated from the kitchen to the restaurant and adored waitressing in the family business, which eventually had a staff of 16. When the pressure was on and my Dad brilliant but borerline hysterical I used to love to manage his grandeur and eccentricity keeping him calm and encouraging and praising him through the adrenalin pumping spectacle that was a full house. It was a family joke that I easily pacified any rare disgruntled customers who might have been kept waiting with a complimentary bottle of wine on the house….Dad used to complain that I was giving away the profits, but invariably the customers were ecstatic and returned, and Dad gladly cut the profit margin in favour of a good result. Didn’t hurt my tip at the end of it either!!
Mum was away couple prolonged times during those steak house days. She committed herself voluntarily to a mental institution and stayed 4 months. I think she had become addicted to prescription valium and librium. She took an overdose on more than one occasion. I couldn’t understand or process the prolonged absence in the psych unti. On visits she would show us kids art work she had done or macrame bags and plant pot holders and I was resentful and confused. I worked 25 hours a week in the restaurant, ran the house, minded my 2 kid sisters in her absence and went to school. Didn’t even mind that so much…it was the shame and embarassment in the town, the stigma back then was awful.