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  • Sandra Lee

father's day

my father is still alive, and in his late 80's, tho i haven't spoken or been in his presence since 14 years ago, when i was 40, and was hiding in a closet from him. i was afraid of him, still. i had been afraid of him every day of my life. i saw him coming up the street, and dashed into the dark closet, while he knocked on the front door.

well, let's say that was a pivotal point in my life.

i don't know my father well, tho was raised by him along with my 3 sisters. we were known as the Murrell Girls.

he was tall, beautiful, with an intense, loud, powerful and fanatical personality. at the time he and my mother divorced, he 'got' the religion bug, and became one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and was made an elder in the church. i happen to resemble his side of the family, and have his green eyes.

he fought relentlessly in the courts- for full custody of us 4 girls, and won, out of sheer determination. unheard of, for a man to win custody of 4 girls, in 1968. my mother, tired after 4 years of courtroom battle, gave up and moved away. she once told me that she realized my father needed us more than she did. well. i think she was also just exhausted. i learned many years later that my very first memory at age 3 was of my father was when he was arrested for trying to kill my mother.

my father was angry, a rage-r and brutal. he ruled the household with an iron fist, and a bible in the other hand. i know he is and was full of pain. and fear. i don't remember too much about the real man, as the fear of him is bigger than the knowledge of who he may really be, under all that. we lived on fear, and woke up with a jolt of pain in our stomachs each morning. as a child, and looking forward to the time when i could finally get married, which was my only way out at the time, i often thought he would eventually kill us, before i made my escape. even after marriage and well into our 30's, my sisters and i would discuss the possibility of him killing us- in order to save our souls. you know, like the fanatical religious freaks we had heard about.

so here i was, age 40, and hiding in a closet, from him. i was making my second escape, from the religion, and my marriage of 23 years. i still, at that point, could not look at him in the face, nor say the word, Dad, or Father. it was too much to bear.

since that moment, hiding in the closet, i began to look at myself. i have had much spiritual help and therapy to process my childhood. i have come to see my father for who and what he is. just a man who did not know how to manage his pain. and who desperately wanted to be loved by his daughters. who was he? and will i ever know the real him, under all that pain of his. it's not likely that i will speak to him again, as the rules of ex-communication of the JDubs are set in stone. i had left the religion of my own free will and thru choice, and there is no compromise after that. my sisters and my father have not spoken to me since that moment. i respect their belief and their choice.

i have long forgiven my father, and have much compassion for him. i hope he forgives me, for the pain i've caused him, for not showing him the love of a daughter.

if i was in the same room with him, i could look him fully in the face and call him Dad. i often speak freely of him and openly look at my life with him without restraint and without fear. i don't wish for another childhood. i don't wish i had another father. i embrace my childhood as something precious, and only mine.

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