Note: This is not a story of sexual abuse, blatant or hinted. Please feel peace to read what IS without fear of another shoe dropping.

Are we proving Evolution or disproving it as we watch every detail morph into something new, since the gradual but traceable changes always form a corrupted and distorted echo of the original? Beauty to repulsion, sweet to sickening, purest intent to the chaos of self-service, affection to control.

A sweet little family, laced through with the bright and happy threads of hippie love and natural rhythm. Childbirth is beautiful, the body a wonder. The bond of parent and child breathes health into the world, a pure and innocent relationship like no other. Nothing owed, everything given. An adoring father loathe to leave his beautiful young family; a goodbye peck on the lips– a sweet and innocent gesture .

A tradition.
An expectation.
A demand.
A shackle to track our coming and going.
Evolution. Mutation. Corruption.

My father worked from home some days, in his woodworking shop or somewhere on our 9 wooded acres. His coming and going was always uncertain– any moment of any day he would walk through the door, always read to catch us in “the act”. Thoroughly safe days were rare, as was the absence of anxiety. Lacking a solid way to know when it was a home day or an away day, it was best to assume he was always around somewhere. Screw Big Brother or Santa, Dad is watching. But that’s not the point of this story, I suppose. Just the context.

Expectations. Living up to Dad’s expectations was akin to godliness (we gave up on cleanliness for a while in the middle years). So when it was time to head in to town, most commonly for a home school group event (a highlight in my childhood memories to this day), we were careful, oh so careful, not to leave without a goodbye kiss. No matter how late we might be (you try gathering five kids post chores and getting them and their projects and your shopping list and your library books to be returned and…) our well trained eyes would scour for a sign of Dad’s van. Better late than defiant–our friends and teachers would forgive us. Spotting the van would mean a trek down the driveway, across the road that bisects the property, down the old driveway to the shop or burn pile or fence– wherever Dad was, that’s where we had to go.

The affection of the ritual long forgotten, the sound of lips connecting was to me the click of a lock released. With a kiss I was granted the freedom to leave, to briefly be in the great Elsewhere. It was a cumbersome tradition, but one we all knew better than to bypass. We all have brains full of reasons shouting at us in His voice, always His voice:

 Is your time so valuable?                   Better things to do than love your Father? 
A slap in the face                                 Do you know how hard I work for this family?       You can’t even be bothered to                      How do you think I feel 
No matter how busy I am I always find
 you before I leave      How would you feel if i
My time is more valuable                          I am most important
I                   Me                      My

Rhetorical questions stand no retort, the assumption of irrefutable conclusion built in. Into my brain they sank and grew roots, and faithfully I followed their edict. Each day I made whatever trek necessary for that goodbye kiss, to receive a stay of lecture, and each day I became more and more empty.


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