My mom was a stay at home mother like all the other moms back then. That was a time when kids had moms there for them and they actually had time to cook dinners for their family. My mother would spend hours in the kitchen every afternoon planning and making meals for my father. The kids all knew she did this for him and not for us. We benefited from the cooking, of course. But it was not done for the children. It was done with love for my father. And most the time he’d come home and enjoy his meal with his wife and children. But he did not enjoy his meals every evening. I remember one night in particular. My father was stinking drunk. The children were all afraid of him. My mother may have been frightened, but I do not really care. She was the one after all who stayed and subjected us to this horror. She did nothing to stop it. In fact, she often stood by and watched her husband beat and abuse their children. On this particular evening my mother had cooked spaghetti. She had a particular meat sauce recipe which was really rather good. We always ate dinner at 6:00 p.m. The dinner was a little late because it was not always easy to time things correctly and the meat sauce had to simmer a bit longer. This sent my father into a fury of having a late meal. These are the types of things my father would say to his children.
“What worthless human beings you are.”
“You can’t get anything right.”
“You can’t even get to the dinner table correctly.”
And my particular favorite which I believed enthusiastically was, “you’ll never amount to anything.” I heard that one many times growing up.
On this particular evening, my mother was stressed because of the tardiness of the meal. She finally got the dinner ready and served at approximately 6:15 p.m. My mouth was watering. We were all hungry. All of us except perhaps my father. He came charging in when my mother finally called him into dinner. He never sat down. He picked up his plate of spaghetti and hurled it across the room. It then hit the kitchen floor and splattered everywhere. We were all either screaming or crying. It was a loud cacophony reminiscent of a zoo in the tiger’s pit at feeding time. I know I was crying. Others were yelling. Of course, my hunger went out the window with this wonderful dinnertime scene. I was sent to my room without supper. The other kids were ordered to bed as well. I don’t remember who cleaned up the mess on the kitchen floor.
The mess in my heart was another matter. The sad fact was I believed this was normal. I believed all children would at some point sit down and have plates of spaghetti flying through the kitchen. My friends would walk home and I remember wondering if they would have to face such things behind their closed front doors.