My parents have been married since 1975. For as long as I remember they always had a difficult relationship.
My mother has many issues due to her upbringing and her star sign (Aries is the worst, sorry folks!), so she always felt really underappreciated and mad and she once even told us that she was unhappy because of all of us, to what I replied, like the smart ass young adult I was, “You’re a grown woman, mother. Stop blaming others for your misery and live your life as you intend to.”. I can see that having to deal with such inconsiderate replies, that was totally oblivious to all her sacrifices for us, could help her losing her mind, even if I wasn’t totally wrong.
My father is much more laid back. So much that it can drive someone a bit more uptight crazy. Also his stubbornness is mythical, to the point where he can make you doubt yourself. Even if you’re certain that the bridge across the river is made of concrete he can still make you wonder if it’s really not made of wood. And even after he realizes he is wrong he will ask you: “Yes, it’s made of concrete. But are you sure it’s not made of wood?”.
They both are, however and despite or because of their flaws, really good parents, that gave me and my brother a set of good values that include respecting people and having a very good notion of right and wrong.
My mother taught me to be a woman and to be proud to be one and to never let myself be berated by no one, especially men. I don’t know any particular story that may have caused such a stand, but alas, she was a young woman in the 60’s and 70’s, in a country that lived under a dictatorship in an absurdly patriarchal society, where women couldn’t vote, where nurses and teachers had to quit their jobs if they wanted to get married, and where a married woman couldn’t leave the country or work without their husband’s permission.
My father, on the other hand, was a kind and loving parent, that gave me the emotional and physical affection that my mother, for some reason, couldn’t give. He also taught me how to be independent, to get around the world, to change tires, to fish, and to know my way around a distribution board. I have an older brother, so I wasn’t a substitute for a male child, these lessons were given either to make me fit for the world or either so he didn’t have to do them for me.
For better or worse, despite the very crappy family environment that was a result of their constant fight, they never got divorced. Maybe because they could spend 20 minutes fighting and completely forget it in 5 minutes, maybe because it wasn’t an option for their generation even to consider to get a divorce, maybe because of me and my brother, or even maybe because they truly love each other.
Three years ago my mother had cancer. All her siblings had it (all 6 of them), every one in the digestive system.
That brought my parents closer together. My mother doesn’t have a driver’s license and was never very independent, so my father was always with her at the doctor’s appointments and treatments.
The chemotherapy was done 90 km away from our home town, so every time there was a treatment they had an hour trip to do.
One day, when they were heading back home, my mother had a stroke. They weren’t very far from the city where the hospital is so the ambulance didn’t take too long to get to them, but it was all it took to get her right side paralyzed and to affect her speaching, for good.
She was a bit oblivious to all the matter at the time, with her brain trying to heal, but my father was completely stunned. His hair went from black to grey in no time.
At the time my mother stayed at the hospital. I was working away, so I would spend the whole week away and went home only on weekends, to go visit my mother and keep company to my father. One Friday I got home and he was a wreck. His face was bruised, he had a cut in his eyebrow and a black eye. He was never a violent man, but, I figured, he was having such a hard time that he got into a fight, completely lost it and couldn’t control himself for the first time since I know him and took it all out on someone. I considered not talking to him about it but my brain didn’t, so as soon as I saw him I blurted out:
– Father! What the hell?! You got into a fight?!
– What?! No! I got in the carousel at the carnival and the damn thing was so fast that when I got out everything was spinning and I fell with my face right into the floor.