I turned 12 only a few months after moving from a big town to a little one, after my parents finally got divorced, after it was becoming far too obvious that something was simply wrong with my mother.
Memory is very kind. Looking back on that twelfth birthday, I know there was ice cream involved and my mother flaked out, again. I don’t remember the guest list or exactly why some of the other possible adults didn’t figure more significantly into the memory-worthy frames (Grandmother? Aunts? It’s hard to think they weren’t around – they usually were — oh wait. Perhaps they were and they were dealing with MOTHER directly…).
Somehow it fell to Daddy. And I was deeply involved in h-a-t-i-n-g my daddy at this time. But 38 years later when I look back on that birthday I see a tall, skinny, awkward engineer with ice cream on his tie, trying to be friendly to middle school girls he’s never met, and making my party possible.
How did he even get there so fast? How did he know I needed him? Why wasn’t my venomous blame enough to keep him away?
Just so you are reassured, dear reader, I have indeed thanked him. I have asked him those questions. He laughed, and cried a little, and he didn’t really have any answers for me. He teased me about the over-the-top parties I have thrown for my own children, and gave me a gruff little hug and ambled out into the garage.