By the time I graduated from high school, Dad was married to our stepmother Beatrice, and my mother and I had a less than cordial relationship. My dad had told me that my college choices were dictated by geography—I could not go further away than one day’s travel. He told me he wanted to be able to get to me quickly if I had a problem.
I chose a university on the farthest edge of the circle Dad had drawn on a map. At seventeen, I was ready for adventure!
The summer before college, Dad had offered to get me a job with one of his friends. I begged him not to and instead pursued my own options. After a lot of searching, I found a summer job as a secretary at an exterminating company. It was a one person office and I was the receptionist, secretary, and bookkeeper.
Since I had not taken book-keeping or other business classes as my sister Lindy did, I had no clue of how to keep the accounts at this business. I finally bought a cheap notebook and used one side of the page for receipts and the other side of the page for bills. It sort of worked although Dad would take me to lunch and tell me that I was flirting with tax trouble.
I knew I only had to make it through August, and I would never give my dad the satisfaction of admitting that his job would have been a much better choice.
By the time Dad and Beatrice and I were leaving for my college, I had pretty much decided that I would not be staying so far from home. During the long drive, we talked about many things; however, never once did I mention my desire to return home with them.
We arrived and put some of my things in the dorm room. The three of us shopped for my towels and bedding and went out for dinner before I arrived back at the dorm for the night. Sunday morning Dad and Beatrice arrived for breakfast and after a lovely meal, I assumed they were coming in for the parents’ meeting. I got out of Dad’s station wagon and he shut the door and yelled, “See you at Thanksgiving,” as they quickly drove away.
Had my dad not done that, I would have insisted on going home. I am so grateful that he was smart enough to see through my insecurities. Dad called me every week or so (a habit we continued for the rest of his life) and he sent lots of wonderful letters.
As for my mother, she never called or wrote to me. I went through college without ever once hearing from her. The surprising thing is that I did not consider this Far From Normal until right now when I am writing it.