Knocked Over By A Feather




The Stoic One


The first Christmas holiday season after my father died, my younger brother stopped talking.

He completely shut down. He did what he had to do, of course. Go to school, do his homework, eat dinner, watch television, say his prayers silently before bed and go to church.

But he did all of these things as mute as can be.

He even stopped talking to me and at the time it really hurt my feelings. We were close siblings back in those early days. I was his elder by 4 years and his big sister, so there were never any secrets between us.

I was worried about him, like I imagine everyone else was. But you can’t squeeze juice out of a turnip and you can’t make a traumatized 8 year-old boy talk if he doesn’t want to.

Once the holidays were finally over and done with, he woke up one morning and started to talk again.

But he wasn’t the same, not at all.

My sweet, sensitive little brother was gone. In his place was a new version of his prior self, extremely stoic and, if I’m being completely honest, a total shithead.

My kid brother went through some sort of metamorphosis during that timeframe, while my mother tried to put together a festive first Christmas without our dad.

We all deal with grief and trauma differently, of course. We had both watched as our father died right in front of us, but my bro was able to somehow mold himself in such a way that he never showed emotion anymore, rendering him safe from the onslaught of mental illness that would swoop down and take me into its ravenous claws.

I like to joke around and say that he’s “emotionally constipated.” It’s not a joke, though. He really is. I think that I’ve seen the guy cry maybe once since my dad passed away and that was now over 30 years ago.

I’m not saying that he’s a total asshole or anything, he’s a wonderful father and husband. Our own father wasn’t the overly emotional type either, but he did love us more than anything. My bro, deep down, is a swell guy.

He’s just not in tune with his emotions and I firmly believe that watching our father die at the tender age of 7 was what made that change occur. Call it a survival instinct or what you will, but nobody will change my mind on the subject.

The little kid who emerged after those 4 weeks of being speechless wasn’t the same kid that I knew like the back of my hand anymore.

And you want to know something? I fucking envy him.


The Loudest Voice…

“You’re such a pretty girl. If you lost weight, you could be a cheerleader and date a football player. Wouldn’t you like that?”

My uncle said those exact words to me when I was around 14 years old and just starting high school. As much as I wanted to tell him to suck an egg, I had to bite my tongue.

Not only was he my elder, he was also my deceased father’s only brother.

I think that he approved of me until I started school. I didn’t bring home straight A’s and my “baby” fat didn’t go away. It wasn’t cute anymore. I was no longer just a pudgy little kid, I was now a bonafide¬†fatso.

He used to grab my belly fat and say, “I can pinch an inch!”

Fuck you, 1984 Special K commercial.

Getting pinched was an invasion of my personal space, not to mention that it hurt like hell. He wasn’t gentle about it at all. His fingers left red marks on my young skin.

He had two beautiful, blonde, skinny daughters who were already adults by the time that I was born. They were perfect female specimens in his eyes and there was no way in bloody hell that I was ever going to be able to live up to his high expectations.

I already had the boys at school who enjoyed teasing me for being overweight, the last thing that I needed was to deal with the same kind of bullshit from a grown ass adult man. Luckily, I didn’t live with him, but when I knew that he was going to be coming over, I’d have a panic attack and try to steer clear of him the best that I could.

He picked on my mom for smoking, which is where the comment, “you’re just like your mother, with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth” originated from when he stopped by the house one day unannounced. I was 18 when he caught me smoking a Cambridge Light.

I had thought to myself, I’m proud to be like my mom, you jerk.

Plus, she told me that he would also pinch her tummy fat as well. I had no idea, I had been under the impression that I was the only one that he ever mucked with.

He was always so intimidating, a Cleveland cop, the polar opposite of my gentle and soft-spoken father. I don’t know if he was ever nasty to my dad, but I imagine that he probably was, because people like my uncle love to prey on the meek and mild.

He’s still alive, in his mid 80’s now. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time and I don’t ever plan on it again.

I hate to say this, but I have no love for him at all.

I don’t give a shit if he’s my elder anymore or that we share the same DNA. In my heart, I feel nothing but emotional pain and an intense dislike for him.

Of all of the negative voices that swim around in my head, his is still the loudest.

Simple Man

I dedicate this song to my father, who left this world on this day, in 1986, at the age of 50.

He was a simple man, gentle, kind and content with the small pleasures in life. Every time that I hear this song, I think of him. 

I miss and love you so much, daddy.


Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this
It will help you some sunny day
Take your time…don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
Go find a woman and you’ll find love
And don’t forget son
There is someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Be a simple kind of man
Won’t you do this for me son
If you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this if you try
All that I want for you my son
Is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Be a simple kind of man
Won’t you do this for me son
If you can?

Boy, don’t you worry…you’ll find yourself
Follow you heart and nothing else
And you can do this if you try
All I want for you my son
Is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Be a simple kind of man
Won’t you do this for me son
If you can?

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