When I walked through the door, my family room looked exactly like it did before I left for Indiana.
Ashley’s Sweet 16 gifts were scattered all over the floor. It was nearly impossible to walk without tripping over something.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Ashley dearly. However, my daughter has always been a procrastinating slob. Unfortunately, she could have cared less. I’m sure her attitude had everything to do with all of the friction and tension in our home. This was her way of dealing with the “mess” that all of our lives had become.
Surprisingly, Dick, being the obsessive-compulsive neat freak that he was, didn’t make Ashley straighten up while I was gone. Actually, the more I thought about it, he was probably waiting for me to return so he could constantly badger me about getting on Ashley’s case about her “disorderly conduct.”
Ashley greeted me with, “What are you making for dinner?”
For crying out loud, I just returned from a whirlwind weekend visiting Josh. I was drained from all of the driving and this was all she could say to me???
I asked her if her father was going to take her out to eat. She told me that she didn’t feel like going anywhere. I guess I should have felt honored that my daughter wanted to spend time with me. Looking through the pantry for something quick to make, I decided that mac and cheese and left over Sweet 16 cake were the perfect comfort foods for a cold, dreary night.
Hearing that Ashley was staying home, Dick left the house to grab some grub. Before I finished cooking, he was back. He placed his paper cup filled with pop from the fast food joint he just dined at on the kitchen table at the spot he usually sat at. Was he actually going to sit down at the table and join us while we ate?
Yep, that’s exactly what he did. He’s always been such a control freak. It bothered him to no end if I spent any time with our kids without him hovering over us.
While we were eating, Ashley shared with me some of the responses she would give to possible interview questions she might be asked at school the next day. She was hoping to be selected as a member of the group chosen to mentor freshmen students. The competition was fierce. Ashley spent a ridiculous amount of time rehearsing her answers. She went over several of her choices with me. They all sounded great until she said if she could be any Disney character (this was actually a potential question!) she would be Goofy. I asked her why she picked Goofy.
All of a sudden, Dick started yelling at me, “Why don’t you mind your own business. Nobody wants to hear your opinion. You think you know everything but you don’t know anything. All you know how to do is give advice.”
It became clear to me that he told her to be Goofy. As calmly as I could, I told Dick that Ashley were having a discussion and not to interrupt.
I turned to Ashley and said, “You are giving our best shot to be picked for a leadership position. Why would you say that you want to be Goofy? When I pictured him, I could hear him guffawing and acting silly.”
With that, Dick started up again. With a sarcastic snicker on his face, he continued,” Why don’t you get a job like everyone else and start making money instead of spending all of mine? You’re totally worthless. All you know how to do is write checks. I work and all you do is spend my money. Boy, are you in for a rude awakening. I have a big surprise for you. You will be living in poverty very soon.” I looked at him and said, “Whatever.”
At that moment, Ashley left the table and said she lost her appetite. My stomach was doing cartwheels, flips and acrobatic somersaults. I was afraid that my dinner would be recycled all over the kitchen walls within seconds.
After that wonderful meal, Ashley and I went down to the basement to talk privately. She wanted to know which Disney character I would be.
I asked her if she had heard of Randy Pausch. She hadn’t. I told her that he was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who, while he was dying from pancreatic cancer, gave a touching last lecture to his students about what was important in life. His speech was so powerful and moving, it was posted on You Tube and immediately became a world-wide sensation. Before he died, he chronicled his experiences in a book that went on to become a best-seller.
I explained to Ashley that Randy Pausch said in life you can either choose to be a fun-loving Tigger or a sad-sack Eeyore. He chose to be a Tigger even though his life was ending at way too young an age and he wouldn’t be able to see his kids grow up. I said, “Like Randy, I would also choose a character that focused on the positive.
We had a finished basement. Along one wall was a built-in unit. On several shelves were knickknacks, pictures and the decoration that adorned the top of my wedding cake. As I was telling Ashley about Randy Pausch and his book, I walked over to find my copy.
What I saw made me gasp.
Every picture that I was in was turned face down and the wedding topper was hidden behind a pile of books. I asked Ashley what was going on there. “I didn’t do it,” she swiftly answered. “I’m sure you didn’t,” I responded. Without saying another word, I put the pictures back up and retrieved the missing bride and groom.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the culprit was. However, I couldn’t believe how low Dick could stoop.
In reality, while he inhabited the body of a grown man, mentally and emotionally he still had the maturity level of a young child. Whenever he didn’t get his way, he threw a temper tantrum.
I knew that Dick was fuming because I went to visit Josh. He thought he could keep me grounded by not giving me the money for the trip. He was angry and retaliated because I left.
His behavior was typical of a young child who was upset when his mommy and daddy went away. Not typical of a grown adult.
Besides that, we were in the process of getting divorced. He should have been happy that I was out of the house.
Nausea swept over me (again!). I wasn’t sure how much of it came from all of the commotion during dinner or because I was sick to my stomach from the realization that for over 26 years I never had a husband, but instead I was playing the role of “mommy” to an over-grown, spoiled-brat baby.
The visualization of this image made me want to puke.