My father left on January 18, 1982. Â He told my mom the day before my brother was born. Â He had found someone else and was gone soon after that. Â I was in grade two and the explanation never played that well for me and our relationship kind of ended on that day. Â If it had been up to me, I would never have seen him again.
Of course under Alberta law, it wasn’t up to me and according the Court of Queen’s Bench, I had to spend a week at Christmas, Easter and the month of August with him. Â Now he didn’t want me there for the entire month of August but the judge thought this was the way to go. Â How crappy was our lawyer that my father got visitation that he never even wanted?
So the August of 1986 I found myself in this trailer court outside of Edson, Alberta with my dad who just went to work every day and his wife who did not want us there. Â You can imagine how much fun it was. Â The trip started out poorly when my dad asked if we loved him. Â Dumb question. Â Of course I answered honestly and said, “no”. Â Well you would have thought I said, I didn’t love him or something. Â Oh right. Â That’s what I said. Â Well he wasn’t pleased and both tried to guilt us and get angry to make us love him. Â I think we had already established that parenting wasn’t something he did well.
He freaked out and got mad (that helped a lot) and his girlfriend is upset and yelling at how ungrateful we are and I am thinking that this is going to be a bad summer. Â A couple of days later I called him to mom and told her how stupid it was. Â She tells her lawyer and then the next thing I know, he writes to my dad’s lawyer and I am now in even more trouble (seriously, how hard is it to get a good lawyer in the 80s? There was so many legal drams on television that you would have thought they would have learned something.) Â I didn’t care that much but then they said that they were planning to take us to Expo ’86 but I am too ungrateful and horrible of a son and blah blah blah. Â The Expo ’86 comment was the wrong thing to say to me. Â Here we were living so far below the poverty line in Saskatoon that the LICO looked like prosperity and I can’t go to Expo ’86 because I am honest? Â That didn’t make me happier.
About day three of them being mad, they were losing energy with their rage and brought home some rocky road ice cream. Â Now who doesn’t love rocky road ice cream. Â My dad sure did. Â For some reason there was a box of Ex-lax on the counter and I realized, Ex-lax + rocky road ice cream could make this month a lot more tolerable. Â
For the first time since my father left, I called him “Dad” as in “Dad, you want some rocky road ice cream?” and you could see that the thought this whole relationship was turning around.Â
I did what any twelve year kid would do. Â I positioned myself between the counter and my father and I took the entire Ex-lax bar, broke it up and mixed into the large bowl of Rocky Road ice cream. Â I gave it to him and then waited. Â
Nothing happened. Â He ate the entire bowl and not a thing happened. Â Being twelve, I was easily distracted and all of sudden someone ran by and went to the washroom. Â I looked around and it was my father. Â I had never seen anyone run that past before. Â Looking back it was almost as if he was some form of drug. Â Oh right. Â The Ex-lax.
Apparently an entire bar of Exlax takes some time to work. Â Who knew?
Then I was faced with a decision, my father was just about dying in the washroom and if I took responsibility for it, I would be dead. Â Of course it wasn’t as if we had a good relationship to begin with and the summer of 1986 was the worse it ever got so I ‘fessed up pretty quickly.
Plus it was kind of enjoyable to tell him that I was the one that had done this. Â It wasn’t as if he could do anything about it being permanently attached to the toilet and everything.
So I got yelled at and grounded and everything else but it’s not like I cared that much. Â What does a grounding mean when you are stuck in a trailer park in Edson, Alberta? Â If I had any regrets, I wish I could have given the same meal to a couple of lawyers in Calgary and Saskatoon.
The only thing that really bothers me about this story, is that is really my only good father/son time with him. Â Well it was a good time for me. Â He may still be mad about it.