At some point almost every year staff writer Crystal Fox, her brothers and her half-sister (shown in photo) visit their dad. The photos they take usually show all smiles, but visits to see her dad is not as fun and loving as they used to be. All Crystal can remember is her dad, and what he has done to her family.
Photo courtesy of Crystal Fox.
By CRYSTAL FOX – Staff Writer
My dad left 12 years ago, but he didn’t realize that he took more than just a suitcase.
It has been 12 years. 12 years of no love. 12 years of no child care. 12 years of having no father.
I am 14 years old, and my dad left me when I was 2 years old. Both of my brothers had to grow up at an extremely young age. They saw things they tell me I should be glad I didn’t have to see. One of my brothers had to get a job at 16 years old to make sure his family had food on the table.
My mom, at one point, had three jobs to make sure her babies were able to have running water. I had to grow up fast because I did not have a ‘daddy’ to swing me around when he got home from work.
I never knew the real story of why my dad was gone. And I never knew what happened behind closed doors with him and my mom. I would run around all day saying how much I loved my dad and how awesome he is, but my brothers had that love sucked out from them a long time ago.
As I got older, I soon realized that the tall man I used to look up to was nothing like I thought he was.
I questioned the man my father was. I started to question why my mom was taking me to Donuts for Dads at elementary school instead of him. I started to question why my dad lived in Pennsylvania, instead of Georgia with me. I kept asking questions, but I was not getting the answers I wanted, until the summer of 2013.
I decided to go visit my dad. Since my dad lived in Pennsylvania, he picked my brothers and I up for the summer for a couple of weeks. My brothers did not want to see my dad, so I went alone, but luckily, I had my half-sister with me.
My mom decided to give me a cheap, little phone just to make sure I would be okay. That was a fantastic choice on her part.
We made it to his apartment after the long ride from Athens to Harrisburg, Pa., and I didn’t know what was to come.
Some weeks went past, and I found myself playing a tricky game with my sister, dad and I.
My sister, father and I took turns trying to get past the same level over and over again. The controller was finally handed to me. I felt my mind race as I got to the final and last part of the level. I was screamed with excitement, over the fact that I passed, but that happiness didn’t last long.
I was hit in the middle of my arm, abruptly as the controller fell, and I was in awe.
“What did I tell you about yelling,” my dad yelled.
“What do you mean,” I said as a tear rolled down my eye.
Smack! Another hit to the arm.
“Didn’t I just tell you about that,” my dad said.
“Stop, please,” I pleaded.
My world was turned upside down from then on out. I ran out the room to quickly call my mom. I begged and begged for her to come and get me. She was confused, and she wasn’t sure if I had done something wrong or what, but she couldn’t do anything, and neither could I.
My dad bust through the door screaming and yelling, still on the phone, my mom heard the yelling and screaming, and as I handed the phone to him, he hung up the phone, and I didn’t know what to expect.
He then walked out the room and into the bathroom, I followed. He stood there on the cold white tiles, stared me directly in my face, and asked me why I was crying. I was confused. My mind was racing.
Did this not just happen? Is this some weird nightmare? What is happening?
My sister called her mom in Macon, Ga. that night. Her mom then made an arrangement for her uncle in Washington D.C., to take her to her grandpa, who would then take us home.
I started to understand how my abusive father treated my mother when they were still married. I learned why my mom had a restraining order on my dad for five years and I started to realize why my brothers didn’t go on summer trips with me anymore.
I started to realize who my dad really was. Everything came crumbling down with my father and I, and I was left to pick up the pieces.
I began making excuses about why I couldn’t come on spring break trips, I “had to go to a competition, for the whole week,” or I couldn’t come in the summer because of “camp.” I stopped answering his text messages and checking up on him. I stopped worrying.
I had the love, that my brothers used to have for my dad, sucked out of me too.
I now fully support my mom and her decisions, because of everything she has been through. I now stop talking to my dad’s side of the family because I feel like they don’t care, just like him. I now understand why all those years of waiting for my dad to send me my birthday or Christmas present in the mail, was a lie.
I sit up some nights, wondering what I did wrong. Wondering why my dad doesn’t text me goodnight. Wondering why he yells at me for no reason. Wondering why he makes everything seem like my fault when I try to talk to him.
My brothers just brush off what happens, my mom cusses him out every time he calls or text her because she is through with him, my grandma laughs and calls him no good.
I sit and think, because what no one realizes, is my dad took more than a suitcase. He took a part of my life, memories and a piece of my heart.
And I will never, ever get that back.