Not That Bad
By Terri L. Tanner

You weren't a terrible father.
We always had food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our heads.
Maybe I was a little empty inside, but I was always full and warm and dry.
I never remember sitting on your knee, bedtime stories, or
having boo-boos kisses.
That's okay, I survived, even if some boo-boos never healed.

I do remember you taking me ice fishing once on Lake St. Claire.
It made me feel special, even though I hated sitting on that plastic bucket
on the ice for hours.
I was afraid the ice wasn't thick enough and it would crack and I'd fall in and drown, or freeze to death, or worse yet get eaten by one of those pike with
all the teeth.
But I never complained. You said "Let's go" and we went.
It wasn't that bad.

I remember you taking me to lunch at your favorite coney place. I didn't particularly like hot dogs, especially with chili on them, but I ate one
because you said they were good.
It wasn't that bad.

I remember these things and smile sadly because these are
my "fond memories."
We could have had more, but you found better times in a bottle.
Do you have any fond memories of me?
Did I ever make you happy?
Wish you'd let go of that brown bottle and take my hand.
Wish I could make you understand.
Things were never that bad.


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