Abby and I sometimes drifted far enough away from home that we felt like no one was watching. That was, sadly, actually true. Our dad was at work and Mother was in her own little alcohol-induced world, so she did not give us a thought. She seemed to awaken from her slumber, so to speak, when Dad was to arrive home for dinner.
Shortly before Dad got home, Mother would stir from her “sleep”, lumber out to the front porch and begin her screeching:
Abby! Lindy! Get home right now or else!
Sometimes we heard her and paid little attention, and sometimes we returned home lickety split to see Dad.
It was like a couple of stray animals hearing activity and deciding to check out all the commotion. We had noticed that our neighborhood friends actually had something called a routine and were expected to follow it. Abby and I had the freedom to disappear early in the day and travel all over the neighborhood knowing Mary was busy with her “extra curricular activities” (such as drinking, taking various prescription medications, and playing Scrabble).
We were lucky that just like many strays, no one really was interested in picking us up and keeping us until the authorities arrived. I’m sure Mother was the talk of the neighborhood for her less than stellar parenting style.
She didn’t care and neither did we. We learned at an early age that Mother’s problems were not caused by either of us and that we should not accept responsibility for them. During the time we were growing up Far from Normal, terms like “dysfunctional family” or “addicted parent” were not commonly used. Neighbors would gossip and wonder amongst themselves, but the dysfunction was considered a private matter.
Just like a couple of strays during the day, our nights were filled with Dad and his love and kindness. We reveled in his attention and knew he was setting the example for us on how to live our lives.
No dog pound for us! We had a safety net and his name was Dad.