Oftentimes and against my will, the sleepy little neurons lollygagging around in my head wake up and start poking around in piles of old and long forgotten files. When they’ve found one they feel is of interest, they fling it with abandon into the inbox of my brain. The hateful little bastards have a nasty habit of doing this when I least expect it.
A few days ago, Mr. Right and I were in the car on our way to a hotel we’d booked for our anniversary weekend. I was gazing out of the window watching the cars go by when suddenly and without warning, those dastardly neurons slam dunked a file into my inbox.
N96154. What? What’s this? Wait...yes… I know this.
There I was, on the way to spending an enjoyable weekend with my husband, and those evil little beasts who reside in my head go and find the old file containing my father’s prison number.
You’re nasty little devils, you are.
My father was in prison for thirteen years and has been out for eight. For thirteen years I wrote that number on every piece of mail I sent to him. In the past eight years I’ve spoken to him maybe six times, and yet my brain steadfastly refuses to purge those old files.
Thirteen years of old files. Thirteen precious years. Years I spent giving birth to, and raising the grandchildren he’s never met. Thirteen years of carrying around fear, remorse, guilt and shame over a burden that was not mine to bear. Thirteen years of writing letters, taking collect calls and hoping, hoping, hoping that those words about how changed and sorry he was were true, only to find out during the next eight that he wasn’t changed at all.
I’m very well aware that it was my father who spent thirteen years behind bars. But sometimes…sometimes…it feels like I’m the one doing time.