Last week we began a journey into understanding my relationship with my father and how I view it through the lens of the Tarot. This week, we will continue discussing this relationship and how it has shaped me into the person that I have become.
My father, above many other things, considered himself the perfect Christian. He was a man who knew the Bible forwards and backwards, but one of the biggest sinners I have ever known. He memorized and recited every abomination listed in Leviticus and Proverbs, but chose to ignore all those that pertained to his life. He was a liar, womanizer, lustful, and cruel. For these reasons, I refer to my father as the Heirophant and the Devil.
Like the upright Heirophant, my father was a great story teller and did impart various pieces of hard-earned wisdom. Traditionally, in the Tarot, the Heirophant was used to represent the Church. Also, the card would represent Priests and other spiritual leaders. However, my father was a perversion of this card and its meaning. As the inverted Heirophant, my father would reference his biblical knowledge only to judge and oppress others. Like many other “Perfect Christians,” he was a great hypocrite.
Much like the Devil, my father rarely ever had my best interest in mind. For as long as I can remember, my father was deceitful, self-serving, and malicious. And like the Devil, my father could never be pleased. He kept many of those who knew him in a constant Hell-state, completely void of joy and or light.
My first memory of my father is how he punished us. Each of us got the switch, got the belt, and was abused in some way. My earliest memory of my father is him pulling my sister from a high chair and throwing her to the floor. He did this because she had spilt her milk. Several times, I watched him attack my mother. He did this with anything he could reach or rip off a wall. One of saddest memories I have is seeing him kick my sister off of him because she ran to hug his leg. Again, he was devoid of any real light or actual love.
When my parents divorced, we spent the weekends with my father. Truth be told, we spent them with my Granny because he was always out, working, or sleeping until it was time for us to go to bed. But every Sunday, we got up at 9am for church. And by 10am, we would be fed, bathed, and dressed to perfection.
One Sunday, we woke up to find that our father was not up before us and had made no preparations for church. We waited until 9:30, but his bedroom door never opened. Shortly, 10am came, and we still hadn’t laid eyes on him. So, my sisters and I went about packing to return to Mom’s later in the afternoon. As we did, he eventually woke up and came out of his bedroom.
I remember the following vividly, he came stomping and wild-eyed from his darkened bedroom. His anger hit me in the chest before he made it half way down the hall. As he came closer, I noticed that there was bruising and dried blood under his eye. Immediately, we each asked what happened. Quickly, my Granny hushed us because she knew the answer to our question would enrage him and it did.
“Your whore mother did this!!! She was up at the bar last night and she attacked me.” This was often how he spoke of our mother so none of us were really altogether surprised. “She was up there with some whore-hoppers, low lives, and drunkards.” Neither of us questioned how he managed to find himself at this bar. On some level, we understood that this was not up for discussion. “I want you all packed right now, I am taking you back up to the bitch.”
As fast as he said it, we rushed to gather our things and fought back tears while we did so. In the background, I could hear my Granny tell him to calm down and suggested that he call the police and file some sort of charges. He declined, threatened Mom’s life, and lit another cigarette.
You all done in there?! Are you ready?!” he screamed, after coughing the smoke from his lungs.
“We’re on our way dad!” my sister Rhea responded. Rhea was always good with him. She was our spokesperson. She had a way of responding to “his beast” that would ease the tension. But sadly, her response wasn’t pleasant enough for him and we heard him stomping down the hall. I remember looking as fast as I could for the rest of my things and shutting my door.
On the other side of that door, he was losing his mind. I could hear him screaming and cursing about how we would not shout back at him. That he would not accept our disrespect; which, to his perspective, was us defending our mother. “She’s a whore! A damned slut!” I heard him scream.
Eventually, we had our things in trash bags and we piled into his dark blue, 90’s Oldsmobile. As I settled in my seat, I noticed that there was a large crack in the windshield. None of us said a word.
When we arrived home to our mother, we were sure we would find her in terrible shape. Visions of her eyes being swollen or her lip busted ran through my mind. However, I was wrong. We walked into our mother’s house and saw her looking quite well! She had perfect makeup, her hair was done, and she was smiling.
As the door closed behind us, we heard him punch the gas of his car, spin gravel out into the yard, and shout more about my mother and how he would have us taken away from her. She stood quietly while this happened, almost solemn. Once he was gone, she opened her arms and said, “My babies are back home.” This was the first time I realized that sun was shining. Maybe it had been the entire morning, but this was the first time I was clear minded enough to take it in.
Rhea immediately put her clothes in her bedroom and speedily came into the living room. She wanted, as all of us did, to know exactly what happened and why he looked worse for wear. At first, my mother didn’t want us to know what happened. But eventually, she began to tell us pieces of the true story.
“I got a phone call from some Rip that your daddy was up at the bar last night and that he was with some bitch.” Funny thing was, mom smiled as she continued. “You didn’t know me and your daddy was trying to work things out, but we have been. And then I get that call to prove to me he ain’t nothing, but a cheating asshole.”
“I went up to the bar,” she continued. “I got dressed up, put my make up on, and I went up there. When I walked in, he was sitting in the corner with (a woman I will not name here.) She was sitting in his lap. I walked right up and told them both to go to Hell and that she could have his ass.
That’s when I went back out to the parking lot. Your daddy followed me and grabbed ahold of me. He pushed me against his car and I pushed him off. Then, I hauled back with my fist and busted him right in the face. I grabbed a post off the ground and tried to bust his window. He ain’t gonna treat me that way.” This was her side of the events and they seemed to match up with how their interactions usually went.
I don’t know what actually happened that night. Even the memory of that day is clouded by my desire not to fully relive it. Was he there with another woman? Most likely. Did mom bust him in the face and his windshield? I don’t know. All I know is that on this particular day, the Devil won and we never made it to church.