I am working now on the final section of my memoir about recovery from childhood sexual abuse. The book will end in 2001 at the time when I decided to begin writing this memoir—six years after I had first recalled the abuse.
It’s time to begin the layers of ending, bringing closure to a topic that never closes completely. I need to say how I regard my father now. Need to show the compassion I feel for my mother’s limitations, which were given to her by a life cut off at every pass—the dying father encased in the household as she grew up, no money for college, of course, in the Depression, and then the depression and anxiety.
How do I regard my father? I need to speak to him, dead though he is, and see how the relationship has changed. How does one regard a molester who acts like a little boy not grown up?
Boyishness was attractive on him. He had the enthusiasm and wonder, the love of frogs and boats and gadgets, the dreamy impracticality that made him both a wonderful father and a terrible—what? a terrible provider and protector, because he was involved in “his own little world” as my mother sourly put it. A good playmate but a poor father. But then, a fabulous teacher, setting out little problems to be solved. The back of his shop was littered with cigar boxes built into gadgets of flashing lights, taking up space just because he loved to teach any stray young person.
Part of my task is to recognize and write about the love that was there between us and still is. But forgiveness? It doesn’t feel right. I don’t absolve him; he has to bear the burden of responsibility.
What do you think, reader?
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