Dear Crazy Neighbor’s Daughter,
Tonight I write to you even though you may or may not exist, because I know what you are feeling.
On my way home from work tonight I passed by a house on the other end of my street. There is a man in the yard that hides in his bushes and as each car passes he runs through the yard to the street and lunges for it. This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen him. I drive this route often and I’ve seen him over and over. Once I drove past this house and saw him laying in the grass seemingly passed out and surrounded by beer cans. So it would be very easy to surmise that this man probably has a drinking problem and gets a little crazy once the street lights come on.
I came home and put my kids to bed tonight and settle in with a glass of liquid inspiration, and I find myself thinking of this “crazy” man even still. I wonder about his family. I wonder about the people that are close to him. Do they realize the shape that he is in? I see cars come and go from the house so I assume that he must have someone that cares for him. The cars are usually day time visitors so then I begin to wonder if they do really know what goes on.
One night, driving past this house, I was cautious as always because it is so dark. I am looking in his yard to see that I don’t hit him if he gets to close…. My heart stops when he jumps out of a bush across the street and runs into the road. My stomach is in my throat! I very narrowly missed hitting this man. Someday I imagine that someone will.
If I were to imagine what this man’s life is like, I would picture that he no longer lives with his wife. She may have passed away or left him many years ago. While they were together they had two children. A son and a daughter who are probably in their forties by now. Each of his children have moved on and begun families of their own. I imagine that they are busy with their own lives and only check in on their dad when it fits in the busy schedule of life.
I picture his daughter thinking of him often. She probably wishes she could check on him more. She makes herself sick worrying. She knows that someday she will get a call that she does not want to hear. Each day she doesn’t get over to see him she tortures herself for being such a terrible daughter. She probably discusses him at length with her husband, who has dealt with this their entire marriage He probably hates how it consumes so much of his wife’s thoughts and wishes they could just be through with him. They won’t even allow their children to see him for more than a short visit because he is so unstable.
She dreads each and every visit to his house. She has a routine when she goes there. First she cleans up a bit. His laundry is all over the floor. He is wearing clothes that look like they are a week old. His hair is dirty and his eyes are glassy. His skin looks a yellowish tint and he looks as though he has lost some weight. The smell of him is sickening. It isn’t a body odor but more a smell of alcohol. Its like she can smell his insides being pickled. Its an odor that is hard to describe but it is like he no longer smells human. His pours sweat booze.
She checks his refrigerator for food and of course it is empty except for beer. There are empty whiskey bottles all over the floor and counter tops and in the living room. She is so disgusted with how he lives that she can’t even bring herself to use the bathroom in his house. She spends an hour or so while her kids are in school, cleaning up and trying to get him to eat. He nibbles a bite or two and then tosses the food aside. She begs him to take it easy on the drinking and he mumbles something that she doesn’t understand. She accomplishes nothing and leaves an hour later feeling more worried and sickened by her father.
Each night she goes to bed and begins thinking of her worry for her father. The worry turns her stomach and soon it turns into anger. She starts to relive her childhood and all of the times that his drinking effected her. She thinks about what she missed out on as a child. She thinks of the embarrassment that he caused her as a teen. She replays memory after memory of driving to his house to pick up the pieces of another drunken episode. She burns with anger and resentment until she gives up with exhaustion and cries herself to sleep.
I imagine that the sun rises and a new day begins and she starts over again. She goes about her busy day caring for her children and her husband, going to work and getting laundry done and cooking dinner. She only pauses once or twice throughout the day to wonder if he is ok. It is at night when she lays quiet that her mind will yell loudly all of her fears. This replays day after day as she waits for the inevitable bad news to come.
Two years ago she got the call at three in the morning when he had passed out in his yard without any clothes on. Of course the neighbors called the police and in turn they called her. She rushed over to the house to see if she could do anything but once again it was too late. Embarrassed once more. Add one more disappointment to the list.
She wonders when it became her job to watch over her dad. Why can’t he just get it together? He’s had a year here and there that he was sober but he always goes back. At this point she feels like there is no saving him and she just has to wait for the end. I cry for her. My heart breaks for her. She may not even exist but someone like her does and I cry for her.
It’s so easy when we are young, to get over some of the things that our parents did that were clearly wrong. As the years go on and it all adds up it becomes a bitter pile of resentment that is so hard to let go of. On one hand you worry because of course you can not separate that love that you have for your parent. You would do anything for them just like they taught you, but you’ve been down this road so many times that you grow tired of hoping and praying that things will ever get better. I’m sure someone out there is tired… I too am tired of waiting for the shoe to drop.