Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A blow to the head

There is a memory that has haunted me: injuring my father by slamming the trunk of the car down on his head as he reached in.

It wasn't deliberate; I thought he had taken out the last item. I was trying to be helpful.

An added aspect to the horror of this memory is a gang of children from my school were walking by. I was a little self-conscious standing there with my Dad. I intended to slam the trunk down and then turn to greet them as coolly as I could.

Instead the trunk banged onto his head. He shouted and ran into the house howling. I followed while the gang from school looked after us.

During the years since, I have remembered the incident from time to time and cringed.

Then one day over a meal my father related the story of when he had gone into work with a great gash on his head.

He turned it into a funny story about his worry that his colleagues would think his wife had hit him with a frying pan.

The horror and embarrassment at the memory of the thud as the trunk hit his head sent me dizzy once more.

But my father finished his story explaining he had done it to himself by bringing the garage door down upon his head.

"Hang on," I said. "It was me slamming the trunk of the car down on you."

He looked at me as if I was crazy and denied it flat. He had done it to himself.

He hadn't. Probably he had invented the garage door story to avoid blaming either his wife or me when he went in to work. The official story had replaced the truth in his memory.

Suddenly it seemed that all the times I had lamented causing my Dad great pain that day were somehow pointless. If he said I hadn't done it, what was I feeling bad about?

From that day on, rightly or wrongly, the memory bothered me no more.

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