Do you remember when you were a child and going out to play was more important in your mind that eating meals? I remember my Mother telling me, “You are not going out to play until you have eaten everything on your plate.” I wonder if that insistence on eating everything on my plate was because food was scarce in those days or because my Mom believed that a “Big, Healthy (Fat) Boy had a better chance at life. Are we trained early in our youth to be either skinny or fat or is the process all natural? I have my own suspicions.
But when I was Seven or Eight years old, going out to the creek and building that little rock bridge so that the ants could cross from one side to the other, was one of the most important things in my young life. That rock bridge took days to complete as I recall. The army of big black ants that wandered near the bridge seemed to be appreciative of my efforts because on some days I would observe them, walking single file, across it.
By the time I was 12 years old, those same big black ants that I had originally considered to be my friends, for some reason that I cannot recall, became “Ant Bastards” and I started to hate them. Maybe I started to hate them because the stinging welts on my back and on the back of my legs from my abusive father beating me with a “Switch” contrived from a long piece of rose bush from which he had sliced off the thorns with a small knife, before he heated it up on top of an old cast iron coal-burning stove.
I think my original tendency towards loving all living things began to take on a hateful tinge as I got older and as I endured more such abuses.
Anyway, the Bible commands me to “Honor My Mother and my Father” and I am now honoring my Father by remembering him and relating a few of the things that he did in his relatively short life. (He died at age 56 from a cerebral hemorrhage during a fit of anger or something … or maybe it was the constant chain of unfiltered cigarettes that he was always smoking.
But maybe the abuse was a good thing. Maybe it was the element of my life that drove my inner anger to the point of driving my later successes in life. Maybe those early scars on my back and legs were what was needed to develop my almost militaristic energies in pursuit of all my lifelong ambitions. If that is the case …. and I have often thought that it is …. then I am grateful for the experiences and I owe my father a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.
I do realize that all this angst did eventually drive me to go to war with the “Ant Bastards” instead of corralling them all in a protective environment and tending to their needs for the duration of their short little lives.
Anyway, I am certain now that sooner or later my original love for the ants would have waned because they tended to bite me more often than not. I wanted pets that would love me back instead of biting me all the time.
Even with all that, I can forgive them because that is their nature … that is what they do … they cannot help it. Ants aren’t vicious because of some emotional discord — they are just born to bite. I wish I had realized this before I started working on exterminating them.
As to my Father, I have also forgiven him to the best of my abilities because nastiness seemed to be his nature … Maybe it was something that he could not help …. Maybe he too was just born to bite. I know one thing for sure … after all these years … I would give anything to see my Dad again…. to hold his poor old frame in my arms … just as one would hold a child and wipe away all his tears as I tell him, “I love you, Dad … I forgive you for everything.”
Don’t try to figure any of this out because I sure as hell can’t figure it out either.