Seven years old was a big year for me. It was at this point that Mama and Dad’s relationship boiled over and broke apart. Dad left and went to live by himself, leaving my siblings and I alone with Mama. At this point in my life, the alone time with Mama wasn’t too bad. She hadn’t learned yet, to take her immature “lashing out,” and reconcile it with her interpretation of the Bible. She was just solidly abusive and then excitingly adventurous.
At one point, Dad did try to come back and give the marriage another chance. I remember being asked to dry the dishes one evening. Dad had pulled our old black and white television from its corner, to the middle of the living room, and was watching a night game between the Vikings and who cares who else. I was drying a dish and became quite interested in the noise coming from the tube, being that I wanted to love what my father loved, so I peeked around the corner into the living room. Dad caught my gaze and motioned for me to climb up on his lap. I obliged and, for the next sixty seconds, I learned everything about football down to the color of the Vikings away laces.
Sixty seconds with my Dad was an eternity. He had come back to try and reconcile with Mama and the whole eleven days that he stayed was a living hell for him. Any time he tried to enjoy his family by playing with his kids, Mama would come into the room and yell, demanding that we go and do some chore that sorely needed to be done. This time was no different. Around the corner she came, swooping in and grabbing me, forcing me into the kitchen to finish my duties. It would be about a year before I watched another game of football with my father.