Candice Maxwell

My dad was never the brightest guy. He is a brilliant man, but sometimes I wonder how much air is up there, floating around with his brain. He is forgetful and often he talks to himself. Without my grandmother he would be clueless of my birthday or my brothers allergies. He’s silly and kind of a dope, but he is a good man. A sweet man who loves history and building model cars.


When I was seven or eight, my parents got a divorce. He moved to South Carolina and my mother stayed in North Carolina. At the end of my first summer staying with my dad, when my brother and I came back to North Carolina, we no longer lived where we had when we left for summer break. My mother had moved us into a trailer with my would be step dad and his best friend Steve.


When I was older I learned from my grandmother that my parents divorce was not caused by their utter lack of having anything in common, but instead because my mother cheated on him for my would be step father. This knowledge built a bramble in me and over the years thorns grew and grew. My step father was a cruel man and a drunk. He yelled at me, hit my brother, and gas lit me about my mental instability.


My father, being the dope that he is, married three times after my mother and not a one was a winner. One of them cheated on him while pitting both sets of children against one another. One threatened to beat me up and once faked a heart attack. The last one was sweet, but had an unhealthy relationship with her children and in the end, just wasn’t the right fit.


There is a difference though, between my dopey dad and my mother. Through all those years of moving, adapting, and trying to survive, my father finally divorced each of those women because they were bad to his children. He could take the abuse. He could drink away the misery. But once his children were on the line he walked out and never looked back.


My mother, however, never left my stepfather.


My dad, as I call him, is not actually my father. He married my mom when I was two. So of course I have deep love in my heart for this man who raised someone else’s daughter even after their divorce, fought for weekend and long holiday visits, and set fire to his marriages for his children, blood or not. I cherish him and his family who took me in and taught me what family is. I cherish they who tore down that bramble, slicing their palms along the way. My own blood, weak of spine and devoid of kinship, chose anything over me, including a cheater, a liar and a drinker.


I cherish the water over blood. It may not be thicker, but it is sweeter.

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