02 January, 2011

Normalcy

"Mommy, why are there men with guns on the roof over there?"

My mother pulled no punches with her answer, despite the fact that she was holding the hands of her just barely four and three year-old daughters: "They're for your father."

I remember the whole thing so clearly. We were entering the federal courthouse in Los Angeles when I looked up and saw the sharpshooters.

"Why are they going to shoot Daddy? Will he be dead?"

My mother answered just as calmly as I had asked my questions, "They're not going to shoot him. They're only there in case he tries to escape and he's not going to try to escape."

And that was it. There was no crying, no drama. Sharpshooters on rooftops with instructions to kill my father were just part of my four year-old life.

Everything was like that. Nothing was kept from my sister and me, despite our tender ages. My mother firmly believed that this was our life and we needed to learn to deal with it.

And we did deal with it. We thought everyone lived the way we did. Every child watched the nightly news and pointed to the television screen while excitedly shouting, "Look! There's Daddy!"

We knew we were in Los Angeles because the FBI said Daddy stole money from a bank. We knew that if a bunch of people said he did it, then he wouldn't be coming home. My sister, Amie, and I knew the words "guilty" and "not guilty", and we knew that "not guilty" was the good one.

But children, even those living in dysfunctional situations, are still children. We loved Daddy, but what we really cared about was when we would go to "Knott's Berry Farm" again.

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