When I say that I was terrified of my father as a child, I’m not exaggerating.
There’s a reason why the psychologist that evaluated my family in November of 1980 found that I was terrified of men and that I was certain that I my father was going to kill me.
And it wasn’t just the physical violence that Richard could dish out. It was the outright psychological terror that he could dish out.
I had once gone and spent a weekend at a sea cadet corp in Port Hope, Ontario. Port Hope was just a little beyond Oshawa, Ontario so Richard had no problem driving me out as this was part of Richard’s and Sue’s shopping trips to Knob Hill Farms in Oshawa.
Richard came to pick me up on the Sunday evening.
When I got into the Mustang he just looked at me and wound up like he was going to backhand me, so I put my hands up to block and cover my face.
“What? You thought I was going to hit you?”
I lowered my hands a bit to look at him.
“You are so goddamn fucking lucky, do you understand that?”
“I was planning to give you the beating of your life when we got home”
I stared at him but I didn’t say anything.
“I went to use my oscilloscope today and some asshole had used one of the probes to poke fucking holes in the anti-glare screen”
“So of course I thought that it was you as you’re the only other person in the house that would dare touch the ‘scope”
I still just stared at him.
“And I was so fucking looking forward to giving you the beating of your life when we got back to the base, but then I remembered that I used the ‘scope yesterday and the fucking holes weren’t there. So it had to be your asshole brother”
I asked Richard what he was going to do to my brother.
“Nothing, what the fuck can I do to him to make him listen. He won’t listen to you and he sure as fuck won’t listen to me”.
The actual fact of the matter was that by this time my brother, who was 2-3 years younger than me (depending what time of the year it was), was larger than Richard. And I have no doubt that if Richard had tried to raise his hand against my brother that my brother would have ripped Richard’s arms from their sockets and beat him over the fucking head with them.
There were things as a kid that I was jealous of my brother for.
Richard would let him watch all the Saturday morning cartoons that he wanted to. My cartoons were too stupid and childish and I was the older kid so I was supposed to set an example for my brother.
Richard wouldn’t object to my brother listening to any music that he fancied. Twisted Sister, Poison, Motley Crue, etc. I wasn’t allowed to have a stereo in my room, and any music that I listened to such as Bruce Hornsby and the Range was utter stupid garbage.
And yes, the fact that Richard was afraid of my brother, or more than likely Richard was cautious of my brother due to my brother’s ability to fight back where as I couldn’t.
You would think that putting up with Richard’s bullshit would have taught me how to fight.
Fighting just made things worse. Standing up for myself only made things worse.
And Richard’s temper was swift and quick and often without second thought.
I forget when exactly it happened, but it was when my bedroom was still upstairs in the PMQ on CFB Downsview, my brother had his first epileptic seizure. Actually, I don’t know if this was the first one he actually had, or if this was the first one in which someone else found him in the midst of a seizure.
I came home from wherever it was that I was. Sue, our stepmother, told me that I had to go up to my room and wait for my father to come home and that I was to sit on the floor and not touch anything.
I went upstairs and did as I was told. I sat on the floor.
There really wasn’t anywhere else for me to sit as my room had been tossed.
Thankfully I didn’t have much to my name at the time as I have no doubt that Richard would have destroyed it.
My bed was up ended and the sheets had been torn off.
My dresser had been emptied out on the floor.
My closet had been emptied out on the floor.
The cover for my radiator had been pulled off.
So, I sat on the floor and waited for Richard to come home.
Richard came home and I heard him ask Sue, “did the little fucker come home?”
“He’s upstairs, Richard control yourself”.
Richard sprinted up the stairs, had to be 3 steps at a time.
He came into my room and with one fell swoop put both hands on my chest, picked me up, and slammed me into the wall so that our heads were at the same height?
“Where the fuck are the drugs?”
“You gave your fucking brother drugs, he’s in the fucking hospital because of you”
“I don’t do drugs, I don’t have drugs, I don’t know what you’re talking about”.
Slam, down I went to the floor.
“If your fucking brother dies, I will fucking kill you!”
“Now, get this fucking shit cleaned up and you better think long and fucking hard about what you’ve done!”
I think it was two or three days later that the official diagnoses came in that my brother had Grand Mal Epilepsy.
Richard died in 2017 without his lips once ever uttering an apology.
In 2006 when I had my infamous blowout with Richard on the phone he remembered this, he also said that I was overreacting, and he couldn’t understand why I was holding on to this. He was a father, he was concerned, I didn’t understand what it was like for him.
“It’s obvious that your brother has epilepsy so why you’re holding on to what I said all those years ago makes no sense. Why do you insist on living in the past?”
In 2011, after I had received my social service paperwork from the Alberta Government I started seeing a counsellor named Doug.
We were discussing my father’s anger outbursts and I mentioned my brother’s first “official” seizure and how Richard accused me of giving my brother drugs.
“So, were you ever tested?”
Tested for what?
“Epilepsy, it’s genetic. Your brother is your full brother, right?”
I wouldn’t learn until 2013 when I tracked my mother down, that the epilepsy originated on her side of the family. It skipped her, though.
I had seen my brother in a couple of seizures. I knew what the seizures looked like, I knew that there would always be physical evidence, and when my brother came out of a seizure he was always disorientated and angry. I don’t honestly ever remember having any type of seizure like my brother, and I told Doug that.
“The reason I ask is your records indicate that you frequently had trouble paying attention in school, you often drifted off and didn’t pay attention, you were often found to be “day dreaming”, your testing indicated an auditory memory issue.”
No, I’m absolutely sure that I never had a seizure of any kind when I was a kid.
“Do you know what an absence seizure is?”
Absence seizures, as I would find out, are often a precursor to full blown epilepsy. Epilepsy is mainly genetic and runs in families. My mother’s mother died from an epileptic seizure. Anyways, absence seizures are often exhibited by children that are genetically predisposed to epilepsy. The interesting thing about absence seizures is that children will either grow out of them by adolescence or they will progress to Grand Mal Seizures.
Absence seizures are typically brief and only last from a few seconds to maybe a minute, but they can happen numerous times a day, sometimes in rapid fire succession.
There were times as kids when my brother and I were in the back of the car. Richard would be driving somewhere. And my brother would make this face at me where he’d roll his eyes back in his head and flutter his eye lids. If I complained to Richard about the faces my brother was making he’d get pissed off at me and my brother.
Well, as it turns out, that’s a symptom of an absence seizure.
My records indicated that I would frequently interrupt the school class by making clucking / clicking noises, grunting noises, and that I would often day dream and not pay attention.
The clucking and clicking noises I honestly can’t remember them other than what the other kids would say what I sounded like or looked like while I was doing them.
The day dreaming? I don’t remember day dreaming per se, but what I do remember is that I had what I thought was a magic ability that I needed to work on. I found that if I stared hard enough at the clock that I could make the second hand jump forward in time by up to 40 seconds. I thought that this was a magic power. It wasn’t. There were times when the teacher would be explaining something, and I would zone out and miss out on what was said. And this would happen maybe about four or five times per class.
Of course my misbehaviour in school made Richard angry. Not so much the fact that this “misbehaviour” was fucking with my education, but because my “misbehaviour” was causing my teachers and my principal to frequently call Richard at work and “disturb” him while he was busy playing soldier in the military.
The number of times that I had to endure Richard’s anger when he arrived home from work is more than what I want to remember. The pants and underwear down leather belt spankings that I took from Richard fill me with pain to this day.
I remember during my time living on Canadian Forces Base Griesbach and Canadian Forces Base Downsview trying so hard to be normal in school but then realizing that I was too fucked up to be normal.
My father’s anger is something that will always be with me until my life is ended.
My counsellor Doug set me up with a neurologist for testing. I did the sleep depravation test and the strobe light test. Triggered my ocular migraine. But it didn’t trigger a seizure. When I got home I had to sleep in my bathtub covered in my blankets and duvets as this was the only room quiet and dark enough to let me sleep.
The neurologist that I went to said that at that stage in my life it would be very doubtful that any testing would show that I had absence seizures as a child. But considering that my brother has full blown epilepsy, and that description of my issues in my social services paperwork, it was more than likely that both my brother and I were having absence seizures as kids and that one of us grew out of them and the other didn’t.
Which brings me back to Richard’s anger. How would things have turned out differently for my brother and I had Richard had control of his temper and his anger?
How would things have turned out for my brother and I had Richard even tried in the most basic sense of the word to be a father and not just a sperm donor?
What if, instead of being an angry asshole, Richard had actually cared?