I had an insight today that may help to explain some of the curious behavior of my birth family at the end of my senior year of high school, when I was preparing to go to college. All of a sudden, it seemed, my Father decided to leave his job as a lab mechanical engineer at the Bassick Company in Bridgeport, CT. This was the job that had brought us from the Midwest to the East Coast in the first place. It was a stable job, and Bucknell was not an inexpensive school. Back in those days there was no financial aid, per se, and only good students who were truly indigent received scholarships — or so I was told.
He decided to switch to a job that was commission-based. It required traveling in a territory that included New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Everything seemed to be hush-hush about this, so I did not ask a lot of questions.
That summer we went to South Dakota for a family reunion. It became evident to me that my Father was not his usual self. I did not know what to make of it. Nor did I have any understanding as to why this was happening.
During my senior year I consistently made my own breakfast and lunch (for school). The only meal that was cooked for me was dinner. Ironically, my Mother suddenly decided to get up early and watch me make and eat my breakfast every morning. I found this odd, as she usually liked to sleep in. When I asked her she said, offhandedly, something about “your Father wants me to do this.” Odd, again.
Every morning when I left the Fairfield house I shut the door on the pain and trauma connected with it. I had to do that in order to function at school. And so, no matter how uncomfortable I was having my Mother stare at me as I downed my soft-boiled egg on German rye bread toast, I somehow managed to leave all of that behind.
It was about three weeks into my first semester that I said to myself, “Wow, I haven’t thrown up since I’ve been here.” This tended to confirm my suspicions as to what had happened in the Fairfield house. But, it seemed, the next thing I knew, my Father had almost died by his own hand. As you can imagine, my only focus was on his well-being.
Fortunately, he recovered. And he managed to keep his job. He always made sure to stop at Bucknell when he was in the area. He insisted on taking not only me, but also my friends, to have a bite to eat at the Bison, the local hang-out…