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Death Changes Me

By: ratlover
ratlover's Profile

Age: not specified
Sex: female
Location: Birmingham AL

Other Passer Name(s):
not specified

Death Changes Me Synopsis

Story pulled from my novel- fiction (but based on my life and my dad).


When I was six, my daddy died and everything changed.
While working as a sub foreman for the state electric company, my dad was helping to install new electrical wiring in a town nearby. He loved his job; the men he worked with had quickly become his best friends and one of them, John was mama's uncle. They weren't only replacing the old wiring, but were also taking down the street lamps in lieu of new futuristic-looking lights.

The power in the old wires was supposed to be turned off that day. On that warm, cloudy day daddy climbed a power pole and inadvertently came in contact with a live wire carrying seventy-two hundred volts of electricity. He only touched one hot wire. I say only because a person can actually live after being shocked with that moderate amount of voltage. Many things have to be wrong for seventy-two hundred volts to kill a person. The severity of that jolt depends on the amperage, what he's wearing, if he's dry or wet, how he grasps the evil wire, the part of the body it comes in contact with, for how long he's in contact with it and a dozen other factors.

When the crew got him down, he lived for about two hours, but nothing could be done to help him. I don't know whether daddy suffered. I know that mama did. It seems all the things that had to go wrong, had gone terribly wrong. Uncle John came to the house that evening to tell mama that daddy wouldn't be coming home. I remember being in the bathtub with my big sister, Lisa. I remember being bathed by someone we didn't know. It wasn't mama. I could hear mama screaming.

That was in June of 1956. Lisa had turned seven years old just a few days before. Mama didn't let Lisa or me to go to his funeral. I guess she was trying to protect us. She did what she thought was right for us. She was completely wrong. As it turned out, we had needed to see daddy's body in the casket. It wasn't for closure. I don't even know what that means. What are you closing? Are you closing a chapter in your life? Are you closing your thoughts and memories away? Are you closing the door to your relationship? Closing a deal? Closing him out? I don't quite understand that concept of closure.

Here, fifty years later, I see that the part of my life I shared with my daddy actually did have its own time and setting and memories that I closed off from everything else. That way, I had my closure.

I needed to know in my six-year-old mind and heart that my daddy was gone. Gone forever! He'd never bring us candy again. He'd never crank the ice cream machine again. He'd never play with us again or hold us again. We'd never smell him or touch him or see him again.

Not being able to see daddy's dead body being lowered into the ground, his death was not real to us. We weren't certain he was dead. We had to believe what everyone told us. I can say us here because I later found out from Lisa that it wasn't real for her, either. Lisa told me that after dad's death, she would look at every man she passed on the street or at stores, etc. She would look closely, wondering if that man was really daddy. It affected me a little differently.

At the time, there was a movie theatre in Dunn called the "Pinky". We'd go on Saturdays to watch Vincent Price movies or maybe the newest Disney movies. But, I think we mostly saw Tarzan movies. As I watched Tarzan on the screen, I'd tell myself that daddy had moved to Hollywood, changed his looks and was now Tarzan. I cried a lot during these movies. I still, for a long time anyway, thought he might come back home. Did daddy like being Tarzan better than he liked being my father? No matter the answer to that, my own question, it still meant he was alive somewhere. I felt sad thinking daddy just didn't want to come back home. Had I done something wrong? Had mama told him to go away? That notion lasted for at least a year. Only until my first step-dad came along, did I finally believe daddy was dead. I miss him and my mama every single day. However, I have no doubt whatsoever, that things would've been very different for us if mama had died instead of daddy. Why did he have to be the one to leave?

ratlover (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sun, Nov 29 2009 22:04:07 EST
Print Death Changes Me
Genre: Drama
Created: 11-29-2009
Word Count: 838

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