A Million Chances This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 10, 2012
By , Strafford, MO
I have always been jealous of kids who grow up with whole families. Their parents attend athletic games together and they raise their kids together. These kids not only have two parents who love each other, they have two parents that care. Sadly, I have always been short a parent that actually cares. Enter the radiating negative force of a ‘father’ that I’ve had my enter life. His treatment and neglect of me have shaped my life by smashing my self-esteem into the ground. I thought that maybe If a person is given more chances to change, they will eventually get better. My whole life has revolved around the thoughts “If my own father thinks I’m worthless and doesn’t care about me, then why should I expect anyone else to care?”

The neglect all began when I was only four years old. One week-day I was just sitting on the couch watching T.V. when my father burst through the front door. “Come give your daddy a hug!” he exclaimed. I shook my head no. Maybe I was scared of him, maybe it was because I didn’t like him, or maybe I was just in a plain old bad mood. Either way, my father’s reaction was completely unexpected. His face contorted from one of happiness to see me to complete rage in only a few seconds. His body tensed up and he advanced several steps towards me. He ordered me to give him a hug again and I still refused. I tried to sneak past him into my room, but he blocked the hallway. He glared down at me with squinted brown eyes and began to yell. I distinctly remember him calling me “a worthless and ungrateful child.”Out of all his yelling and screaming, those are the words that my mind chose to remember. Those were the words that would hurt a four year old girl the most. When my father had finally finished yelling I ran past him with tears forming in my eyes. I told myself over and over again that I couldn’t cry, not in front of him. So, instead, I waited until I had slammed my door closed and curled up in a little ball against the doorframe. Then the tears began to flow, cascading down my face and onto my knees. So many tears formed that they clogged my eyes and I could see nothing but a blur of what was in front of me. I cried and cried because deep inside I knew that my father was right. I was worthless.

I continually felt like I didn’t exist while around my father up until he and my mother finally divorced. It was a no brainer for me to choose to live with my mother; She was my loving parent after all. My father on the other hand, ignored my existence and instead chose to spoil my younger brother, Andrew, by giving him everything he wanted. It eventually reached the point where I would never come out of my room or talk to my dad at all. My birthday would pass by with no recognition from him, no “Happy birthday honey!” or “Here’s a present for my special daughter!” No love for me, no acknowledgement, nothing at all. The only interaction I had with him was when I would have to fetch him another beer because he was too busy playing videogames to get up and get one. My thoughts began to change from “Why doesn’t Daddy love me? I must be doing something wrong!” to “Maybe if I do something wrong, he will notice me if I just give him another chance!”

Running around the house yelling that I was a bomb that was going to explode in five seconds was one of the first things I did to try and get my father’s attention. If he didn’t look at me or say anything in those five short seconds I would begin to wail like a siren, but he never noticed. It was always my mother that would make me sit in ‘time out’ in the corner for five minutes, my father never gave me any attention, whether it was good or bad. Thinking back, I have realized how true the analogy of me being a bomb really was.Consumed with thoughts about why I was being neglected that I finally felt like I was going to explode into a million pieces. But since I was still a child, I did not realize that feeling that way wasn’t my fault and that it was because of my father. I did not know that it was my father that should be receiving a second chance, not me.

It was not until the summer before last, when I was sixteen, that I finally realized that my father was the one at fault. I was visiting my father’s home in Canada that summer, and my father decided he was going to take my sister and I to a barbecue at his friends’ house. Occasionally one of my father’s friends would ask me how I was liking Canada and I would say it was fun, using as vague of a reply as possible. I didn’t want to explain that every time I visited I received the privilege of feeling worthless for two weeks straight. As the party progressed I became more and more out of place because I was the only person there that wasn’t drunk or very close to it. I meandered around the pavilion in front of the garage, looking alone and desolate, for at least an hour. I finally decided to just sit down in one of the lawn chairs and wait until the party was over. I suppose I never realized how uncomfortable I looked because it took only about ten minutes for my father’s best friend Adriano, to come find me. He was clearly not in full control of his senses when he approached me and yelled, “Why aren’t you up having fun with the rest of us?” His Italian accent resounded through the question and he reached over and pulled me out of the chair. “Let’s go have some fun with everyone!” Becoming more and more nervous by the minute, I tried to squirm out of his grasp and find another seat where no one would notice me. Failing miserably, I resolved to just slip away once we reached the fire pit, but I was intercepted by another man before we were even halfway there. A short, well-dressed man in khakis and a white embroidered shirt stopped Adriano in his tracks. “Adriano, who is this young lady you are forcing to go with you! I don’t believe we’ve met.” The man smiled with perfectly aligned white teeth that appeared to be even brighter due to his dark skin. “Ah, this is his youngest daughter.” Adriano roared. “What a pleasure it is to meet you,” Roman answered with a bow. I was shocked, a bow, since when did people still bow? “Uh, nice to meet you too,” I mumbled. Roman smiled again, “Adriano why don’t you go on back to the fire pit? I’ll stay here and keep this young lady company.” Adriano simply nodded and lumbered back up the stairs. Roman began to ask me polite, simple questions to get to know me, but I distinctly remember our conversation when he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a writer.” I replied. “Oh, how stupendous, what kind of writing do you do?” He asked, fascinated. “I write novels in all genres, I will write about almost anything I suppose.” At this point Roman seemed absolutely fascinated that I wanted to be a writer. “You see, I was an English major in college and I graduated with a Masters in writing.” How ironic, I thought to myself, maybe he could actually help me with my writing! With a flourish of his manicured hands he began to explain how difficult it is to become a writer, the colleges I should go too, what books I should read to learn new writing styles from. With every answer I gave him he would answer with “how interesting,” or “Oh, stupendous”. Finally, with our conversation coming to a close and my father drawing nearer, he leaned in and whispered, “ I must order you a Kindle tomorrow for you so you can get some reading done and you certainly must e-mail some of your writing!” I simply nodded again; I didn’t take what he had said to heart. My father had said things like that before and they never came true, so my hopes weren’t high. As my father hobbled closer and closer Roman shook my hand again, gave a slight bow, and “bid me a fond farewell.”

When my father finally reached me, he reeked of alcohol, cigarettes, and several odors I couldn’t and didn’t want to identify. He mumbled something about it being time to go home, but he couldn’t even remember where he parked the car. My older sister, Lauren, had to drive us home because our father was so incoherent. The entire ride home he would repeat, “I burnt my thumb.” Over and over again, it was like he was too intoxicated to remember that he had just said the same phrase to me just moments before. In this moment I realized that Roman, a man I had just met hours before, had spent more time caring and figuring out more about me than my father had in my entire life. I became so infuriated and filled with hatred for the rest of the trip that I refused to go anywhere with my father.

But, on the last full day we were there, he claimed that all of his friends wanted to say goodbye to us and he forced us to go with him to his favorite pub. Being as furious as I was, I didn’t talk to any of his friends when we got there, I just wanted to go back home where I belonged. I just sat and stared off into space, until I felt someone touch me on the shoulder. I looked up and saw Roman staring down at me with a grin. “Why hello!” He said enthusiastically, “ I have been asking your father where you’ve been for days.” I began to mumble a reply, but my father interrupted me. “ She hasn’t wanted to go anywhere, I think she’s antisocial.” “Oh that’s nonsense, you have such a wonderful daughter! She easily became friends with me, so she must enjoy company!” Roman replied. I smiled, and I didn’t stop smiling for days afterwards. He had just stood up for me, a complete stranger! Why would he do that? I only thought about it for several moments because seconds after he stood up for me He touched me on the shoulder again. “Now, come with me, I have something I need to give to you.” He half pulled and half guided me out of the chair and led me out to his pristine white cadillac. “ Now wait here just a moment,” he mumbled as he started digging around the backseat. “Ah! There it is!” He exclaimed, holding a brown box the size of a college textbook. He handed it to me silently and let me have several moments to read the name on the box. It read Amazon Kindle in large, black letters down one side of the box. My heart skipped a beat. He had actually bought me a kindle! My mind went into shock; I could not understand why he would have bought me one. “ I hope you enjoy it like I have enjoyed mine. I also have given you a CD with all the books I have bought for my kindle so you won’t have to buy any for yourself.” I thanked him repeatedly throughout the rest of the day until my father took us back to his house to pack our things. It wasn’t until I had all of my things packed that I opened the box and looked at my new kindle. Inside the box was the grey kindle, with it’s blank screen and buttons, but on top of it lay a CD with the words “ 4,550 books. Enjoy. – Roman” and his e-mail address written beneath.

I almost burst into tears, for in that one moment, I realized I had people that truly did care about me, people that wanted to be a part of my life, people that would hug me when I cried. And I realized that my father wasn’t one of them and that he didn’t deserve to be. He had chosen not to be a part of my life and to tear me down, so I would choose to not be a part of his. Everything that had happened in my life was because I kept giving him second chances. I always thought that he would get better and that eventually he would care, but I was wrong. I gave him a million chances to step up and be the father he should have been, but he never took any of them. Now, because of him, I know that some people never change even when you give them a million chances.





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Amanda24 said...
Feb. 8, 2013 at 10:54 am
This is Great writing! 
 
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