The Bridge of Time and Promise

dear friends.. i felt the need to write some prose while i worked on the co write poems i mentioned in my last post, the song was chosen not for the title or video but for the close your eyes experience.
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The Bridge of Time and Promise
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Chaos was the default setting in my family. The earliest memory of my uncertain future, was me sitting in the sturdy chrome legged high chair that provided a perfect mezzanine level view of the kitchen table. From the relative safety of that private perch sitting plush as a prince behind my oversized formica tray, I could hear and see everything.

It was a cruel foreshadowing of how I would eventually view the world.

Wednesday meant spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and not ’50’s style Americanized Chef Boyardee spaghetti either. No, not in our house. I can remember watching for hours while my mom made the meatballs, prepared the ingredients and slow cooked the deep red fragrant sauce on the stove. With her large spoon disappearing into the open topped aluminum pressure cooker to take a sip then dolloping some into my plastic bowl, I was a red saucy mess by dinnertime

Though I was much too young and preoccupied as curious kids are,
to understand exactly what all the words I heard actually meant, I knew something was amiss that night. Kids learn by repetition and it wasn’t until my personal spaghetti feast was suddenly interrupted by a very loud thwack followed by my father yelling at the top of his lungs, did I realize the words ‘not good enough’ was…uhm, not good.

From what I could gather, his ‘not good enough wife’ had once again tried to cook a ‘not good enough sauce’, not like his mother would make it and said sauce and spaghetti ended up on the ceiling in so furious a motion, my mom and I sat in stunned mouth agape awe.

Lost in my kid reverie of seeing something new for the very first time,
I don’t recall hearing the plate crash down on the table but the white porcelain shards were everywhere. The inevitable commotion and chaos trailed quickly down the hallway without so much as a glance from me, I just couldn’t take my eyes off that Rorschach red splatter on the low ceiling.

So there I sat in our little kitchen alone in my high chair, howling with laughter as one by one a spaghetti strand would peel away from the ceiling only to flutter and plop on the linoleum floor.

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Apparently the spaghetti was cooked to perfection, al dente pasta will cling if you toss a strand on the ceiling; an old school trick I learned from my few years as a chef. The recipe is memorized now I’ve made it so many times though I wish just once, mom could have slow cooked
it for her grandchild. Shining that red saucy face grin, my daughter has been happily wearing that sauce since she was in her own high chair.

Mom deserved to live that memory… the world and our lives are less that she didn’t but the regret has tempered with time, and knowing mom would have been tickled that her recipe was still being savored.

And there is solace in knowing the weight of her life has lifted some,

that the generational abuse in our family finally ended with me…

a promise I whispered in my daughter’s ear

the miracle night she was born.

in whatever I have or may succeed,

I find joy in the vast and

tranquil oceans of her innocence.

and my life’s full reward

witnessing the budding dreams

of clean and open sky…

of song and flights of angels soaring…

of pure… in her adolescent eyes.
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as the Universe intended.
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54 thoughts on “The Bridge of Time and Promise

  1. I am so sorry that your life and your mums held abuse. I am happy that it ended with you, for many it continues to be a way of life. Those 3 lines ..a promise I whispered in my daughters ear..simply beautiful. As I began to read I smiled as I have made a large pot of spaghetti sauce this afternoon, but mine will be given with love and appreciation to my ‘penguins’ tomorrow and they best not spill a drop. Hugs to you for writing this painful memory Jack.

    • it needed to end Jen, there are choices in this life that HAVE to be made,
      acted upon and followed through to the end. this was one and to see the what
      my daughter is and capable of…i just couldn’t live with myself otherwise.

      enjoy sharing your sauce,ty, i’ll be thinking of you today.

      • Yes there are pivotal moments in life, where a different path must be taken for the good of ourselves and others. Spag sauce will be delivered this afternoon πŸ™‚ hugs

  2. Wow-that’s writing!!! Beautiful.. (Lump in my throat…) I’m sure your mother, from the other side, isn’t missing a Thing! No longer bound by the walls of space and time, I’m sure she is enjoying every minute of her grandchild! Thank you for a beautiful piece… (And thank you for the Oblivion music!)

    • oh Michele, what a wonderful compliment and sentiment. and yes you are so right,
      i know mom is smiling and enjoying what she sees, ty so much for that image!

      and just to add a little to the mystery of things, this song was playing as the
      ending credits were rolling during Oblivion, i had fallen asleep on the movie i
      was watching…i woke up and had to find out what it was, i rewrote the ending
      of this piece because of it. it’s become an instant favorite!

  3. Beautiful emotional post. It called up similar moments in my childhood as well…and the moment we make that decision to NOT perpetuate that pattern. Well done Good Warrior. Your daughter is lucky to have a father like you. Blessings!

    • yes… THAT moment, one i will never forget for so many reasons. each little thing
      we do ripples across the Universe, we are responsible for each other more than we know.
      Blessings to you for making that decision, i’m sorry it was needed MarDrag but we are
      who we are because of those early imprints….and how beautiful a heart YOU have! ty.

  4. First, oh brother of mine, I took your advice. I closed my eyes and listened to the music. I was truly swept away, thrown into the universe where all the glittering beauty shown so brightly. I felt love and excitement and passion and calmness and then the singing started and it changed into something different and that beauty was wonderful as well. This music should absolutely be listened to with eyes closed. It’s hero music, music that make you know that you really are bigger than anything that can happen to you. Thank you for that.

    As for the abuse. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for your mother. All I can say is that I love you and I’m so happy that your in my life. You stopped the cycle, no one can do more than that because it’s the only thing that matters.

    • yes Sis’, in the big and small of everything we know, it is the ONLY thing that matters. it took me a while to grasp the full meaning of what being a parent, being a father was but to see her now, she’s on her way with all blue sky ahead…i will rest easy when my days are done.

      i’m so glad you closed your eyes, yes absolutely…hero music, that’s it! as you tumble and journey through time and space only to be redeemed at the end with the voices of angels. it took my breath away when i first heard it through my headphones. Sis’ i cannot thank you enough for what you’ve written here, this piece is profoundly important to me. and for what it means to me to have you here in my life, i love you too o Sis’ of mine.

  5. Tiny says:

    Beautiful writing of life as it happened. The red faced toddler from behind the formica tray has grown up to a wonderful human being. And a great writer/poet.

  6. i am so sorry and i am so glad that you turned into such a wonderful talented person and muse

  7. Miranda Stone says:

    It reveals a great deal about who you are as a person that you were able to transcend a painful abusive childhood and become a loving father. Your words hold a profound message, my friend: we are always more than our circumstances.

    • i will tell you Miranda, it took quite a long time, to understand, to learn, to believe i didn’t inherit my father’s dna. he was clinically diagnosed a violent schizophrenic, it only began presenting later in his life so it scared the heck out of me, and it’s one of the reasons i had her relatively late in life. but her birth completely rearranged everything, i am not the same person i was before her.

      and now i’m one of THOSE parents who goes on and on about their children lol,
      me….who woulda’ thunk it? i really appreciate you taking the time to read this through and for writing such a poignant response, it means a great deal to me Miranda, ty.

  8. This is such a stirring account and from such an unusual perspective. I love how you purposed in your heart to raise your daughter differently. The music combined with the lyrical declarations of the expanive scope you captured was riveting.

    Blessings,
    Theresa

    • ‘purposed in your heart’, oh i like that phrase and yes i did, it took a very long time
      to gain the knowledge and understanding that i was not destined to be, what i knew.
      at 16, i as i saw my father leave for the last time i knew i could not be like him, i just
      didn’t know how to go about it.

      that was my journey and now to see my daughter as she is….
      that music as it tumbles through the uncertain Universe, and reaches that redemptive climax, it’s why that music is the right pairing for this long journey i’ve taken. ty Theresa, for reading this through, i realized when i wrote it that it wasn’t going to be everyone’s favorite. but sometimes things just have to be written… i am profoundly grateful you are here today.

  9. C.C. says:

    This whole post is so powerful….from the personal prose, the Oblivion music, and the promise you whispered into your daughter’s ear…and then kept in spite of generations of abuse before you….wow. Speaks to the power of the human spirit and how one person can make a difference….can even take an entire family off onto a whole new trajectory. Thank you for sharing from your heart.

    • C.C. ty, ty, ty for understanding and then so eloquently describing the enormity
      and generational scope of what i was trying to convey in this piece. my daughter has
      my family name though she is a child of divorce as i was, all of us, my ex, my long time
      partner, grandparents have cooperated and shared the responsibility in not burdening her
      as my family burdened me. she has a chance to make a new history for herself and our family.

      it takes a village, and every person in that village to raise a child. what we do and say as
      individuals ripples across the Universe, i was simply determined not to burden her as i was, and she is shining now…as the Universe intended.

      ty you for being here today C.C., it means so very much to me.

  10. I know the scene you witnessed all to well not in my own home growing up but one I had made with a man I thought loved me. You make me so grateful for never having a child by him and so sorry for his son we had every other weekend seeing the same and worse. He can no longer hurt anyone with his awful words or hands and feet and I am glad you choose to stop this learned behavior in it’s tracks. Your Dad and my Ex never knew the wonderful woman we were.

    • no, they never did gear friend, and probably had no intention or capacity to either.
      it’s an awful trap so many women find themselves, especially when married with children.
      i am so profoundly grateful that you found your way out,that that i kept my promise too.
      and now you’re painting watercolor roses….who woulda’ thunk it? good on you!

      • lol Trying to paint them πŸ™‚ really just letting myself relax and heal πŸ™‚ Yes I did not want to be seen as a quitter so each time we parted I took him back I know now it was never love in any sense of the word I was hurting and just let him destroy me. I will never stand by and keep my mouth shut if I see someone being bullied or belittled I am very strong now and will speak for those too frightened to 😦

      • oh i can feel your strength, and good on you for becoming an advocate.
        i am as well, and very vocal about it when i see it.
        dear friend, you have scars like i do, but the fact that you can talk about it,
        create as you do now….your spirit is alive and i am proud to know you.

      • Same here! I think we are here to SAY SOMETHING πŸ™‚ glad you feel the same way πŸ™‚ Have a Wonderful week and a glorious Easter.

  11. Mary says:

    Profound writing with lingering elements – not fraught with imagination but of a knowing only too well. It does take a village, too often everyone outside the house is fooled by the image presented, but those within the four walls carry the scars of mental and physical abuse for their lifetime. There is no Hallmark (commercial) family – you’ve chosen a path that will enrich your life and that of your daughter. And, now I understand.

    • yours is a wise and empathetic heart Mary, and i am fortunate and
      profoundly grateful to know you. yes, those of us do carry the scars
      forever, it’s what i was referring to when i wrote in ‘over the wall’;

      ‘because i am just the sum of all my pain
      the kind that can never really be repaired
      i just learned to wear the scars beneath my skin’

      time and understanding have certainly dulled the sharp edges,
      but there is redemption seeing my daughter shine as she does.

      ‘And, now I understand.’…reading that choked me up Mary,
      there is such gravitas in those few words from you, ty for being.

  12. great piece, …and well done you!

  13. SirenaTales says:

    My dear MW, What a potent and complex piece you have crafted here. Obviously, my heart goes out to you and your family, and all families with similar terrifying and tragic pain. I sit here smiling, though, at the image of how overjoyed and relieved your mother would be/is that you dug deeply and transcended the violence and abuse. Yay you, my friend.

    Thank you for crafting and sharing such a remarkable story, that includes the joyful, saucy-faced innocents, whose future may have been temporarily threatened, but who were ultimately saved by your own bountiful strength of character, insight, imagination and courage. Your tale is, to me, ultimately one of redemption…and love.

    As beautiful as the music is, MasterWho, your writing sings its own redoubtable, soaring song. Yeah, baby. L O V E

    • Chloe, i knew this piece would have to be written here one day, i just wasn’t ready
      until this week when the memory began rising to the surface. the prose was complete
      last Sunday but the poetic ending was written when i found this song on Saturday night,
      it woke me up from a deep sleep when it was playing during the closing credits of the
      movie ‘Oblivion’. i swear i thought i was in heaven, when those angelic voices at the
      end began harmonizing!

      yeah…i got some stubborn in my bones Chloe and LOVE in my heart. there are benefits
      to growing older, to see my journey through the lens of time, to realize that it is
      possible to right some wrongs in this life, that redemption is truly possible if we
      only do the right thing no matter how impossible it seems.

      and nothing was more important than this, the gift of innocence.

      what price could i possibly ascribe to that? yeah baby, it is all about LOVE, always.

  14. lumar1298 says:

    So glad the abuse ended with you… Hope your mom found some peace in later years… Blessings, Lor

    • ty Lor, every little thing we do ripples across the Universe,
      there was only one right thing to do and the gift keeps on giving
      seeing my daughter shine innocent as the Universe intended. and
      i think mom is somewhere smiling now too, blessings to you Lor.

  15. stacilys says:

    I love this. Once again, my heart gets heavy with your realistic emotion. These are deep memories that never leave us. I love how you stated that the abuse ended with you and that you see the innocence in your daughter.
    I know the feeling of growing up in broken home, where there’s abuse and fear. I lived my entire childhood in fear. I can so relate to you. I wrote various verses to a poem soon after I read one of your poems and watched that video about the girl leaving her dad in the car. I wrote it with great emotion, but have been unable to post it. My mom reads my blog and a lot of it has to do with her actions, attitudes and decisions after her and my dad divorced. It would break her heart to read it and I’m sure would open up a huge can of worms.
    When creative people open up and express out of their vulnerability, magic happens. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your magic with us.

    • well, i’m very sorry to hear that stacylys, ty for sharing that with me. i actually began my writing ‘career’ lol
      about 2 years ago, i belonged to an abuse survivors group and we shared our stories with each other. it can be very cathartic to write about our experiences, even if it isn’t shared with anyone. you might want to continue if only in a private journal, i completely agree and understand about not wanting to post it for a lot of reasons.
      it’s not a comfortable subject for folks to be confronted with, to want to talk about and it speaks to the wonderful friends i have here that this post received as many heartfelt comments as it did.

      and yes, that video was the eventual catalyst for this post. it was heart wrenching but ultimately redemptive. i am doing a co write with a very dear friend here on WP, we are both childhood survivors. she writes powerful poetry and quite often posts directly about her memories. i’ve resolved, as much as i can, most of my issues from that time and being near 60 now, married with a daughter, i don’t wear the pain on my sleeve as i used to. but i did have to do an awful lot of work to get to this place, i wish i had found writing much earlier.

      • stacilys says:

        That video was definitely heart wrenching. It had me in tears.
        I don’t wear the pain on my sleeve anymore either, but they definitely are memories that will always be there. I will never know what it is like to have a healthy father-daughter relationship unfortunately, but I have an awesome husband that is an AMAZING daddy to our kids. It’s absolutely beautiful.
        I also wanted to let you know that I wrote about the impact that this post: https://whocouldknowthen.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/6076/ had on me in my most recent post. I added it as a link, if that’s ok with you.
        πŸ™‚

      • oh it’s more than ok stacylys, i’m honored. ty. and i’m so very happy to hear of your husband’s close relationship with your daughter, folks like us, who have experienced what we have often make profoundly caring and sensitive parents.

  16. rjl2727 says:

    brother, your prose is every bit as compelling and deep as your poetry. and your family experience, which was tragic, is phenomenal in that you, you broke that fucking spell. i loved the part about whispering it in your daughter’s ear. my hat and heart are off to you. peace my friend.

    • so good to see you here Bob, and ty. though the road to get to that promise was a long and difficult one, there really was no there choice, knowing firsthand the profound effect we have on our kids. every little thing we do and say ripples across the Universe, it’s something i try and remind myself of each day. and to see her now…well, i’ll just say i’ll rest easy when my days are done.

      peace brother, and ty for being here.

      • rjl2727 says:

        brother, you are so right! the ancient Jewish sages maintained that once a word is spoken, it takes on a life of its own and is an unquenchable force of good or evil. and perhaps more harm is done by words than could ever be done by hands. i subscribe completely to everything you just said, and hope when all is over here i will have left a legacy of love to my children and grandchildren. all the poetry, art, work we’ve done will vanish into oblivion, but the love and goodness we’ve done will live forever. i have moved away from concern of the nebulous god somewhere out there and see god only in what one person does to and for another. peace my brother.

      • yeah, i get it Bob, i really do. some folks wring their hands about their legacy, there is nothing more important to me, than the responsibility of being a parent. she is my legacy.

        all the other stuff, is beautiful icing on the cake.

  17. kathyclem says:

    A very powerful story, brings tears to my eyes. Much love to you. β™‘

  18. bgbowers says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your childhood, but from one evolving soul to another – writing like yours is impossible without some kind of trauma or extended painful experience. Somehow, from all that chaos comes order – eventually, through analysis, soul searching, and choosing to place a crown of love atop a life lacking in love, does the order begin to materialise. Eventually, we use that experience to find and live an authentic life. From what I’m reading, you have achieved this beautiful and illusive order.
    Congratulations on breaking the cycle – looking at society in general, breaking the cycle seems to be the biggest challenge we face.
    Bianca xoxo

    • ‘choosing to place a crown of love atop a life lacking in love’ wow Bianca, this could only be written from the heart of someone who ‘knows’, ty for that. and yes, that’s ultimately what broke through the fog of pain…Love. my entire being changed when my daughter was born, when i held her that night we were both part of the same miracle…i understood the word responsibility and felt Love on a whole new level.

      and now, with the benefit of hindsight and the lens of time i can celebrate all that i experienced, it is who i am and as i wrote recently, ‘i am the sum of all my pain’. Rumi wrote. ‘wounds are where the light enters’ i’m a true believer in those few profound words. ty Bianca for taking the time to read this through, and for the empathy and Love in your response.

  19. This really is beautiful and beautifully written!

  20. I’ll leave that comment now. You story really was touching, sad, and funny in parts. I suppose like real life. I could relate. My childhood was not filled with mostly pleasant memories, but mostly memories of my mother screaming curse words and berating my father for all of his shortcomings (barely supporting the family/drinking beer when they could have used the money to purchase clothing for the children, etc.). Memories of his silence mounting into a rage that occasionally could only be dispelled with violence towards her. I also broke the cycle. Although I chose two husbands that have a temper, I left the first one and the second one isn’t violent. Of course, there are many details that I would need to share for someone to understand why things are the way they are today with my son etc. I think I will start a writing journal. Thank you!

    • ty Travel Spirit, for sharing as much as you have here, our childhood experience colors
      so much of who we become as adults, how we can and sometimes can’t relate, there is so
      much to ‘fix’ just to resemble normal. i applaud you for continuously trying, sometimes
      it takes a more than a few partners to get it right, it did with me as well.

      i think a journal is a fine idea, i actually began writing cathartic stories of my childhood
      only 2 years ago, when i belonged to an online abuse survivor’s group. writing helps…a lot.
      it defines the jumble of conflicting emotions in our head, and very interesting things begin
      to happen when you finally set those memories free on paper.

  21. I do love the way you tell a story. I could picture the “saucy” little you πŸ™‚

    It really is horrible that even memories that should be happy are tinged with black. I’m so sorry this is one of your earliest memories. I understand and can relate for sure.

    I’m so pround of you and know that you will always keep that promise you whispered in Cbear’s ear.

    I have no children though I really would love to, I’m unable to have any as a result of some of my past. Before I knew that I debated about having kids afraid I would someohow be like my parents that somehow the sickness would kick in. I finally realized that I would be a wonderful mother cause even as a child I SAW they were wrong, evil, (insert other adjectives)…and I was not like them.

    I’m glad you realized that about yourself. I could go on but I see my comment is getting long… so love and light to you πŸ™‚

    • ‘It really is horrible that even memories that should be happy are tinged with black’…yeah, it sure is Melanie,
      but as you know from your writing and the reaction on your blog, that we can write them now through the lens of time and experience allows others to connect to their memories instead of burying them. i wasn’t sure what to expect when i wrote this here, i’ve never really spoken about this subject in my writing. but how incredible the comments have been.

      i’m sorry that you are unable to have children, that saddens me greatly. as you, i was terrified of what i might have inherited through dna and from what i learned but the worst i got was a severe case of Social Anxiety. far more benign than Alcoholism or Schizophrenia, people see less of me than they’d like but that’s a good thing somedays! lol and yes, like you knew i ‘knew’ too at a very early age, i swore i would never be like my father.

      and yet here we are….we made it through Melanie.
      and i am as proud of you, as you are of me. (fist bump)…good on us!

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