My mother didn’t like to leave the house. I never questioned it, never thought anything of it. When we did go places, more often than not she would sit in the car as oppose to going inside.
Going to the grocery store, wait in the car.
Going to get food, wait in the car.
Going to the beer store, wait in the car.
This was just… normal. We would go to restaurants and guess where Mom was? Yep, that’s correct, waiting in the car.
The other side of that is that my father was never in a hurry.
Going to the grocery store, peruse every aisle at length.
Going to get food, make sure it’s an all you eat, and get comfy.
Going to the beer store, have social time with strangers.
He went to a bar-b-que restaurant every Thursday night for all you could eat ribs and cheap pitchers of beer, he insisted that Mom and I join him. There was a waitress there, I remember she was thin and had lovely blonde curls. My father would flirt with her in the most obvious and insulting was imaginable. Insulting to my mother sitting and watching, insulting to me feeling the tension and sadness.
I hated her. I began to blame everything that was wrong in life on that waitress. Every week I would dread the night, he would argue with mom and we would load up in the car. Mom refused to go in and they would argue about it until he won and she went in. I remember the last time that she went in with us. I was probably nine years old. The waitress was there, he was doing what he always did. I don’t know what was different that night, but something changed. My mother, after asking him to leave repeatedly, stood up and walked out with tears in her eyes. He didn’t pay attention; he was busy talking with the waitress. I followed her outside and she was in the car crying. She told me to go back inside and to my shame, I did.
After that night she refused to go inside. She would sit outside in the car in misery while we went in.
This didn’t stop him. He would eat and drink beer for literally hours. Often we were there until closing, which was late. I would watch him eat and I got angrier and angrier and said nothing. Soon I would refuse to eat. I would sit and watch him gorge and flirt and drink and I hated the waitress for it. Eventually Mom got to where she just wouldn’t go at all, that was when she really stopped leaving the house for anything.
I would still go with him. He would ask and I felt obligated to join him. I stopped going to the restaurant with him though. Even as an adult I refuse to walk into it, I still get angry as hell.
I did however go to the beer store with him. It was a good thirty-minute one way drive, the town was still dry and we had to journey to the outskirts. One time in particular I remember going, I was maybe eleven years old. He was already pretty drunk by the time we left, which is why I went. I was afraid he would have an accident if he went on his own. My rationale was skewed I admit. My kid brain said that if I were there he would be ok, because nothing could happen to me. It was late at night and I was tired.
Laying in the seat, I remember my eyes filling with tears. I became terrified that something was going to happen to my mother while we were gone. I don’t know why the thought invaded my mind but once there it set roots.
More specifically, I was afraid that my brothers were going to kill her. I remember shaking with silent tears going down my face, I don’t know why I had this fear but I remember the depth of it was astounding.
I should say at this point, short of verbal arguing I don’t remember my brothers ever actually physically hurting my mom. It was somewhat typical for them to have fisticuffs with my dad, but not her. I don’t know why I was so scared that one time. Looking back, I think it was because they were so unpredictable at that age. It was as if they were strangers who just came home to sleep occasionally, I would see them when I left for school, they typically slept in the front room by then, I rarely saw them awake and when I did it was always volatile.
We made it to the beer store. We made it home. Mom was ok. Just another normal day.