I can still see it in my mind’s eye, as though it had happened yesterday. The emotions of that day are just as painfully palpable as they were some forty-eight years ago, when my three younger brothers and I sat quietly in the back seat of my father’s green, 1969 Ford, hatchback Mustang, watching him sob uncontrollably, while slumped over the steering wheel of the car.
It would mark the beginning of the end of our family as I knew it and of my father and mother’s tumultuous relationship that would end in divorce. It would become the precursory event that would lead to many more pain-filled years I would endure throughout most of my life.
“Why are you crying, daddy?” My question went unanswered while he continued to cry uncontrollably, burying his face in his right elbow, he had draped over the steering wheel. After regaining some of his composure, he lifted his face to wipe the tears and mucus off of his face with a small handkerchief he kept in his rear, back pocket of the Bermuda shorts he wore. His eyes and eye lids were red, swollen and heavy, giving him the appearance of a sad looking bloodhound, as he held his fixed gaze upon the front door of the simple house in South Miami we had lived in, as though he were looking at something through the closed door, with x-ray vision.
Not wanting to cause us any further alarm, he turned over the ignition of the car and backed us slowly out of the driveway and down the street to the main road that would take us to the highway, north to our grandparent’s house. The trip lasted maybe twenty minutes as we drove north on highway 826 in South Florida, to the small town of Hialeah, where his parents lived. We all remained quiet for the short duration of the ride through town. I can still remember the humid vapor of the ocean breeze that would make it’s way from miles away, tasseling our straight, light brown hair like the hand of a frantic mother, trying to comb our hair before we got to grandmother’s house. We called her, Mima.
We were soon greeted by welcoming arms of both my grandparents and two or our aunts. They deeply loved us and took us in as though we were orphans. My father never talked about why he cried that day, but as time would soon reveal, it became increasingly apparent of what was going on. Little did I know how it would profoundly strike me in one of the most violently, intrusive ways and change our lives forever…