My father left on January 18, 1982. He told my mom the day before my brother was born. He had found someone else and was gone soon after that. I was in grade two and the explanation never played that well for me and our relationship kind of ended on that day. 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. Now he didn’t want me there for the entire month of August but the judge thought this was the way to go. 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. You can imagine how much fun it was. The trip started out poorly when my dad asked if we loved him. Dumb question. Of course I answered honestly and said, “no”. Well you would have thought I said, I didn’t love him or something. Oh right. That’s what I said. Well he wasn’t pleased and both tried to guilt us and get angry to make us love him. 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. A couple of days later I called him to mom and told her how stupid it was. 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.) 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. The Expo ’86 comment was the wrong thing to say to me. 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? 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. Now who doesn’t love rocky road ice cream. My dad sure did. 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.
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.
I did what any twelve year kid would do. 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. I gave it to him and then waited.
Nothing happened. He ate the entire bowl and not a thing happened. Being twelve, I was easily distracted and all of sudden someone ran by and went to the washroom. I looked around and it was my father. I had never seen anyone run that past before. Looking back it was almost as if he was some form of drug. Oh right. The Ex-lax.
Apparently an entire bar of Exlax takes some time to work. 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. 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. 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. What does a grounding mean when you are stuck in a trailer park in Edson, Alberta? 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. Well it was a good time for me. He may still be mad about it.