One of the most important lessons I picked up over the course of my father’s illness is that certain things will come to light which will invariably change the way you view your life and your family. They can be good or bad. But they are points of no return, where your perspective can never go back to what it was before that point in time.
The most tumultuous point of no return I encountered happened about a two years after Daddy’s initial diagnosis. My mother called me in hysterics, telling me Daddy was at his studio and I had to go help him. I immediately cancelled my 10am and began making my way across the city.
When I reached the studio that morning, I had no idea what to expect. As I rode the elevator up to the top floor, my mother’s frantic call kept bouncing around my head. I’m done Joanna! I’m sorry but I just can’t do this anymore. The lies and the accusations and — no — Joanna I’m going to stay with Aunt Sophia upstate. He’s your father, Joanna. So help me God, I’ve done my best by that man, but I can’t… I just can’t. Take care of him Joanna, I have to go.
The elevator chimed and I took a deep breath. I could hear his shuffling and curses immediately upon entering the floor and saw the door to the studio had been left ajar. I slowly pushed it open and knocked five times.
“Daddy?” I tried to keep my voice soothing as I inched my way into the room. “How’re you feeling today Daddy?”
He continued muttering as he stood at his easel, occasionally adding an agitated brushstroke to the angriest painting of a sunset I have ever seen in my life. “I told them we would never get the contract, not with Ford’s WIN campaign in full force! Utter damned nonsense, how am I supposed to sell advertising if they already know no one is gonna buy the product? Damned putz…”
“Hey Daddy!” I spoke a little louder, but tried to stay as cheery as possible. “Cool sunset!” I slowly made my way into his peripheral vision.
He glanced my way, then went straight back to his painting, slamming the paint brush against the palette. “Goddammit Madge! You know you’re not allowed to come here! I swear to God, if Lorraine finds out about you, you are cut off! I mean it, no more clothes, no more jewelry, and you can forget about me supporting George! Now get the hell out!”
Time stopped in that moment. I felt my breath catch, every hair on my body stood on end, and my skin turned to clammy ice. Madge… Madge? Madge the secretary?! Was he saying that George was his… No, no I must have misunderstood….
“Daddy?” My voice was a little more tentative now. “Im just gonna sit over hear while you paint, okay? If you want to talk, we can… Whenever you want too.”
As I took my seat, it was pretty obvious he was not listening to me, but continuing his conversation with Madge. “No honey, I’m sorry, you know how stressed out I’ve been, losing that contract. No, no… Honey, I promise, I would never stop supporting George. How could I? I never should’ve… It’s just Lorraine…nagging…constant complaints…” I continued to hear snippets of his conversation my stomach seemed to undergo an outright upheaval. And then, clear as day, “But of course you can, my darling Madge! How could I say no to the mother of my son?”
And there it was. No maybe. No doubt. I had no idea what was going to happen next, what this meant, what – exactly – my mother heard him say. I only knew one thing for certain. There was no turning back.
In response to Picture Prompt #21: Theme & Genre.