Friday, 13 August 2010

REMEMBER THE COLD WAR?


Isn't it amazing that there are college students today who weren't even alive during the fall of the Berlin wall. This thought often gives me pause as the ominous tension between America and the Soviet Union was a factor for a large part of my life. Though there has been some political conflict between Russia and the U.S. of late, it can't be compared to the impending threat of nuclear annihilation that we post-war children lived with each day.

My family's home resembled a version of the divided city of Berlin in the summer of 1965. No concrete wall was erected and nobody was shot but the lines were quite literally drawn in our home. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is the part where I arrived home after six months at that institution and discovered the sad state my family was in.

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Unbeknownst to me, my parent's marriage relationship had worsened during my stay at Jericho. Mom accused Dad of seeing prostitutes. Meanwhile, Dad claimed that my sister Linda was fathered by another man since she had blue eyes. The tension set everybody on edge as we children dreaded what would happen next.

Home increasingly resembled a miniature version of Cold War Berlin. Suddenly, Mom designated two parts of the kitchen counter for my dad and the rest for us. Half the table was Dad's and the other ours. Mom also assigned him one stove burner, cupboard, some dishes, and fridge space. We never ate dinner together as a family after that time.

Mom moved her belongings into the bedroom where Linda slept and which once belonged to Diane and I. Dad slept alone in the master bedroom. Mom only let him sit in the easy chair in the living room while we used the chesterfield. Since life became extremely uncomfortable at home, Dad spent increasing amounts of time at the bar with his friends.

My parents rarely spoke to each other unless it was absolutely necessary. Mom ordered us not to talk to Dad, Whenever we disobeyed, she would interrogate us regarding what he said and what we told him. I hated being forced to take sides.

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Though modern marriages fail frequently, it's still traumatic for the children. I can remember longing for a "real dad" who would stay home from the bar to play games with me and my siblings. Complicating matters was my poor vision and my brother's behaviour problem. Getting a divorce was much more difficult back then so my parents kept up their "cold war" until 1976 when Mom got a separation.

Though my memoir deals mainly with being at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, I included vignettes of the times I spent at home during Christmas, summer, and three Easter vacations. The book is available by clicking here. I also have a short bio and When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) featured on the site.