My father became fully estranged when my older brother Paul was about two. My family took a trip up to the blistering cold of Buffalo where my grandmother pulled out a large kitchen knife and threatened to “take care of” the product of my father not marrying a Polish woman.
I wonder if when I’m older I’ll think of my childhood in the same way, as just a collection of bad memories. There were always good things, and comparing my fortunes to the way my father’s impoverished life was spent always made me think that there was nothing for me to complain about. But I can’t help but remember the bad times. The temper, the laziness, the anger.
I remember riding in the backseat of my father’s red blazer when he got cut off by a motorcycle. Enraged, he gripped his fat fingers around the steering wheel and pushed the gas until he was only a few from the speeding bike. My mother, screaming in the passenger seat, pleaded for him to stop. We turned off of our exit. The angry biker was not only following us, but mouthing “fuck you” and displaying a thick gloved middle finger. Now my dad sped up only to break sharply, keeping his squinted eyes on the rear-view mirror. All I could think about was the sticky sound of his fingers squeezing the wheel.