Saving Dad

Some of you know I'm making an attempt at writing my auto-biography. I've managed to get further than ever before. Yay me!!!

I wanted to post an excerpt; tell me what you think. I am trying to find my voice and my audience. So your feedback will be valuable.

Saving Dad

The Mormon Church played heavily in our lives; like a stern patriarch always present always dissatisfied, always looking for perfection, and on the flip side providing me with stability, structure, kindness and love. I knew what was what and there was no changing my mind about right and wrong. I was raised by an entire community of good Mormon folks who truly had the best of intentions.

I was eight years old sitting in my Sunday school class leaning my metal chair back on two legs against the pale green cinder block walls. I listened as Sister Powell talked about the ‘ideal’ family with the father at the head of the household. “A family that doesn't have a strong, faithful father at the head is a family in chaos; they will never be an eternal family.” Sister Powell stated. In my eight year old mind I knew my family was not the ‘ideal’ family and something needed to be done. I walked out of Sunday school that day determined to save my family from an eternity of separation and damnation.

That evening Mom, Dad and I were eating buttered popcorn, drinking Coke a Cola and watching Mission Impossible. “Dad who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? What are they doing with that rope?” I asked. “Shut the hell up and watch the show.” Dad is a man of few words but the few he chooses usually get his point across. Handing me his pop bottle I finished up the last of his Coke. I always took it as my charge to finish up the last four swallows of Mom and Dad’s soda. As I drank my soda and watched Mission Impossible that night it got me to wondering what my plan was to save this family; my very own Mission Impossible.

First order of business; get Dad to stop smoking so he will be worthy to lead the family. How hard can that be? Surely he’ll want to be with us for time and all eternity. Certainly he wants to be saved, he’ll do it for me; I know he will.

It came to me; my plan, what if I were to replace Dad’s cigarettes with candy cigarettes. Perhaps he would like these just as well. Monday was a school day but right after school I would head to the drug store where they sell all kinds of candy for a nickel. Quite invigorated by phase one of my plan I carefully placed a dime on the dresser and went to bed.

The morning finally came; I got dressed, put the dime into my shoe and headed off to school. All day long I could feel the dime, that had slipped to the bottom of my shoe, pressing on my foot. It was a subtle reminder of my mission; and I felt a bit smug knowing I was about to save my family from the grip of Satan. Mom and Dad would both be at work giving me plenty of time to accomplish my task.

After school I ran home changed into shorts and a t-shirt and, still with the dime in my shoe, started out for the drugstore. On the way I stopped by Mr. DeVree’s house to climb in the tree in his back yard.

Mr. DeVree was a nice, older man in the neighborhood who loved to have me and my friends play in his yard. In fact he used to invite us into his house where we would eat candy and watch TV. “Do you want to come in and watch cartoons?” Mr. DeVree hollered from the porch. “Not today, I have some things I need to do.” After playing in the tree for a bit I headed to the store. Cutting through the Weese’s backyard and through the field I reached the store and walked through the door and straight to the candy shelves.

So much candy and me with only a dime; I found the candy cigarettes and also grabbed two boxes of ‘Snaps’; delicious candy coated licorice for only two cents a box. I made my purchases and headed back home. Dad would be home soon and I still had to figure out how I was going to swap out the cigarettes without his knowing.

I often wonder if things would have been different if I had been successful in carrying out my plan. What if on the way home from the store I hadn't stopped by Mr. Devree’s house to watch TV and visit with this nice old man who always smelled of peanuts and something I didn't quite recognize.

Walking into the TV room I started to sit cross legged on the floor. I was planning to eat my delicious candy Snaps and watch an exciting episode of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ one of my favorite after school TV shows.

Mr. D asked me to sit on his lap, this wasn't all that unusual, so I hopped up on his lap and opened a box of candy; eating them one by one as I watched Gilligan and the Skipper almost get off the island one more time. I could smell peanuts on Mr. D’s breathe and feel the oil from face as he leaned close to me pressing his cheek against mine. I felt Mr. D slip his hands under my t-shirt. Surprised I stiffened as his rough, calloused hands rubbed me creating sensations that I didn't understand. At eight I was hardly aware of what he was doing but I knew it wasn't what I wanted. I jumped off his lap and ran home crying; leaving the candy cigarettes on the floor of Mr. DeVree’s TV room. I don’t remember going back there again but I will forever remember feeling sick to my stomach and not telling anyone what happened for years to come.

Saving Dad would have to wait.


  1. Wow, that's a nice cliff hanger. The story of saving your dad reminds me of my own childhood in a pentacostal christian church and the bursting desire to save everyone else. I couldn't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to be saved. It's a special sort of trap that small children are so easily caught in. Personally, I think it does lasting damage. And the worst part is that it's done by the well-intended. How do you direct the anger that comes later when they only meant the best for you? I am interested to hear how your dad took the candy cigs. I'm sure that went over well.

  2. It is a trap. A trap I still find myself stepping into now and again. Crazy how these things get so ingrained. What I want to know Heather, is how people manage to write books. It's hard work! Are you teaching any classes anytime soon?