Harken back the end of 1976: Village People were hot, Welcome Back Kotter wasn't a punchline and my immediate family had been a family for the longest time it had been in the 70s: seven months. I was eight. I could figure out how often my father had left by taking my age and subtracting one (8-1 = 7). My dad returned in March of that year, yanked us from Victoria to Hamilton Ontario. Then six weeks later, we drove back to BC, to Nanaimo. We moved twice when in Nanaimo. First to a livable apartment complex, then a farmhouse south of Nanaimo.
November rolled around. "Nanaimo" had yet to be known as the Indian word for "too many malls." Any real shopping had to be done in the big city: Victoria. On a Friday night, my Mom packed up my sister, grandmother and I; we headed for some Christmas shopping. My Dad was going to come home from work and wait for his family's retutrn. My Mom has this odd sixth sense. She thought my Dad was going to take off again. So with great tension, she went to Victoria anyways. Then, she called again and again at every stop. There was no answer and at some point, I guess thought she had had enough and we sped back for home.
She shared her theory with my grandmother (and the two kids in the back seat). Once again my Dad had left. If I was going to be the man of the house, I figured I could do what I want. I started swearing as much as an eight year old could muster. "Damn" this and "Hell that. We got home at about 10 PM and sure enough: my father had buggered off. Again.
My Mom had planned based on her paranoia: she took the distributor cap from my father's car and otherwise sabotaged his escape. If he was as good a father as a weasel, he would have earned international father of the year. With his getaway car unusable, rather than take a moment and consider the family he was again abandonning, he weaseled off.
My Mom looked for full time work. But no luck. She tried for welfare. They turned down the abandonned mother of two. They did offer to move us to Victoria. And that was how we returned to the big city.
I was wondering how this has affected me. Hatred of my doofus father: that's a given. Apprenhension when I take pre-Christmas trips from Nanaimo to Victoria: yes. What it also did was make my capacity for trust really precarious. Everything throws it off: my boss doesn't give me a performance review and I think I'm about to be broomed. My wife doesn't call from work and she must be gone (gee I wonder where I got that from). Sure, my rationality is in the driver's seat, but my paranoia likes to ride shotgun. As I write this in the midst of the holiday season, I guess I have my father to thank for giving me the gift of a weak talent for trust.