From the time that I was a small child my father represented a distant figure, only moving closer when he thought he wanted my sister and me to do as he declared which, left us without options, unless we wanted to see his wrath. All too often, we walked on tender eggshells making sure we did nothing to disrupt the peace of the day, thus leaving our childhood at the door and becoming something akin to a Stepford sons or daughters. Later, after I left home, he seemed to worsen at times–his gruff appraisals and rough demands would often make my sister and I happy to leave; or at worst never wanting to return. As the years multiplied we noticed slightly more quieter times were evolving until during the last year of his life most of the gruff exterior disintegrated and he became less distant; yet I always felt somewhere deep inside of him there were many conflicting stories.
My mother, on the other hand, is gentler, if not almost suffocating in her need to extend protection and love, while also being too sensitive, too delicate, and too needy. I often compared her to a Mother robin fussing over her young, feeding, protecting and nurturing, but not wanting to let go. Even though Momma is fragile and psychologically needy, she has always had the mental strength to endure. I remember the night, when I was very small and very frightened, she held me during a thunderstorm, telling me of all its wonders, while all the time being unbelievably frightened.
Many years have passed since I lived in their house and during those years, I had often thought of the two of them as one gruff, stern and distant, the other gentle, needy, and fragile. Both continually appeared to control my sister and I, yet, I used to question why had I been able choose the direction for my life and leave the coddled and controlled nest so easily? Why had they never stopped me from going in any particular direction and how could they support all my decisions? Why was I never guilty about leaving them all alone on the farm so many years ago? Moreover, what was it that gave me the strong sense of curiosity that I have always had; curiosity–the one important ingredient you need if you want to succeed in unknown ground?
Much later in my life, I carefully studied their actions during my childhood, adolescence, and teen years and I realized my father’s distant wrath was rage at his domineering mother, while my mother’s sensitive fragility in motion was set in motion by a Mother who was very selfish and doled love out only when she received something. Each lived within the shadow of strong parental prisons, and somehow broke partially free to become determined that their children would not experience the same suffocation as they had. Their control was merely a facade, an outward cover they had to develop to cope with their early lives, a facade not easily broken without professional help.
Deeply seated within each of them was a burning desire to ensure that their children had the freedom to choose their own destiny. Our parents gave us the basic values of good, the tragedies of evil, and the cognitive tools for evaluating and determining our own lives. Possibly these values and abilities were given to us in daily lessons we received from them. Maybe the discomfort and frustration we felt was necessary to understand. Although, and more importantly, my sister and I received an unspoken spirit tenderly placed in our hearts- -our freedom.