When I think as far back in my memory as I can, well to the parts that actually play in continuous streams, I remember living in my favorite childhood home and Superman. Let me explain. We grew up on the bottom edge of middle class and top edge of poor depending on the times. However, when I was around 3 to 5 years old we lived in the biggest house we ever had. It had an attic and full size basement. For the rest of my childhood I would live either with other families or in single level houses with one bathroom and no room to hide per se.
It was also about this time that Superman II came out in the theaters. My father was a huge Superman fan, so we got to go see the special feather Superman I and then Superman II. It was there that I started to wonder if my dad was maybe a “Superman” in hiding.
My dad was handsome, the firstborn of his siblings (so maybe he came from another world), he had the goofiest side of him and he had dark wavy hair that resulted in a curl that sometimes would fall in the middle of his forehead. He also was so strong, at least in the eyes of a child. I would watch him work on and break horses, chop wood, build/mend fences and of course lift whatever seemed impossible. I was convinced that he would protect our family from evil and maybe that was why he was up and gone so early in the morning.
I felt my dad may have kryptonite nearby as at times he would change and seem weaker but only for a short amount of time. As a child you notice things but don’t necessarily fully comprehend them. Also, there was an advantage to having such a large house, I didn’t hear nearly as much as I did in all the smaller houses. This isn’t to say I didn’t hear anything, I just didn’t understand exactly what was going on.
I remember sitting on the stairs and hearing the yelling and crying. I recall being scared, knowing not to go where the noise was, not to make a noise and not to say anything to anyone other than my sister. It’s funny when I look back, I don’t know how much of that is instinct and how much of it was my sister telling me what to do. Children shouldn’t have to “know” how to handle any of that really.
When we moved to smaller house and I’m got a bit older, it became very clear that my mother seemed to be an alien as well. She was funny, very creative, responsible and did the things you know mom’s should do. However, it was like she had something either inside her or that infected her and she would change. When this happened she must have either gotten out or emitted kryptonite, because my father was weak for days. It was insane to watch. My mother became something so scary and my father would seem frozen, barely speaking and afraid. I was so frightened by this scene every time it played out. If he, Superman, couldn’t handle what was inside her, then who could?
As I got older my mom’s inner alien didn’t just attack my father, but would lash out at my sister and me. It was obvious that if he could not protect himself then he was powerless to shield us. At times it even seemed her power had grown to the point he was under her control. So I did what I had to as well. Clean up the messes so things were not worse later, hide with my dog when I could, tried to be so well behaved to not cause any issues and accept this was our life.
There were people that knew, family and a few friends. I know we were not supposed to tell anyone because who knew what would happen. However, over the years I know a few adults figured things out or I said just enough. I think I was hoping that the Justice League would come and save Superman because he couldn’t fight this on his own. I never found them because I didn’t understand where to look. I finally stood up as a teenager and in a way became my own hero. I walked away from that family and told my father where to get help, to leave and he refused.
In a way, my dad will always be my childhood Superman. It is sad that he was conquered and broken. But I do believe in heroes. I work with them every day. They are part of the Justice League.
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