Glints of Light
About once a week Mum and Dad went shopping. The nearest shop was 12 km away. I always nagged, begged, and pleaded to go with them but very rarely was I allowed to go. They used to sneak off. I wouldn’t know they were gone or where they were, until they came home with loads of shopping bags. On occasion I remember going outside the house, only to see Mum and Dad hurrying into the car, slamming the car doors, and driving off down the road, with me running after the car shouting, “Wait for me, wait for me, I want to come.” I would see Ted’s head in the back window, poking his tongue out at me and giving me his devilish look. Hours later when they came back, Ted would boast about all the chocolate he had been given and ice-cream too, and then he would say, “I get everything, you get nothing because you are the whore child and not worth a shit. I am so glad you get nothing because I hate you.”
On the few occasions I was allowed to go with Mum shopping, Mum would stop for a coffee at the local bakery. Mum never ate much and would just have coffee with cream on the side. With all the lovely smells coming from the bakery I would beg her to buy me a Danish pastry. She always absolutely refused and would say, “Here’s some cream left over from my coffee, drink that.” I would catch a glimpse of the face of the woman who was running the bakery, going from a big smile, to a face of pity. At one time I heard her say to Mum, “Look, I do have some lovely pastries from yesterday, there are at least 10 of them in the bag. I normally sell each pastry for 3 Krone (30 pence), but I can let you have the whole bag for only 5 Krone (50 pence). Don’t tell anyone I sold them to you so cheaply, but then your kid can have a taste.” Mum said a firm no thanks, quickly drank her coffee and we left the shop.
The strangest thing though, is that when I was allowed to go shopping with Dad, and those occasions were few and far between, it was totally different. Dad would go to the petrol station to fill up with petrol and have a chat with his mate who ran the station. I had to wait a long time before he was ready to go home. In those days the petrol stations were like garages where they also fixed cars. They were not grocery stores like today, the only extra they had in the petrol stations were bottles of pop and ice creams.
I remember asking Dad in the nicest way I could, if I could please have an ice cream. I was allowed to choose the ice cream I wanted. In those brief moments, when Dad bought me an ice cream, I felt like I had a dad! Enjoying my ice cream, I felt very good and happy, not just because the taste of the ice cream was wonderful, but the fact that it was Dad himself who had bought it for me, and I didn’t have to nag to get it. I believe Dad must have wanted me to have it! A warm feeling flowed through my whole body and I held on to those few moments as if they were precious gold. Receiving any kind of affection from my Dad was so rare, I have never forgotten them. When Dad was sober he never treated me bad in any way, by calling me names or wanting to throw me out. He was far more generous than Mum, and I was never afraid of him when he didn’t drink.