I Blame It On My Father

A story about Petal, a young blue headed woman working through her family drama and most importantly dealing with her "daddy issues" which have affected her life and relationships so much. On her journey, she struggles with forgiveness, her mother's mental illness and vulnerability in relationships. She did not know that a broken relationship with a father could have such dire consequences. Things become worse, much worse before they become better. A story about hope, love, patience and forgiveness.

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11. Chapter 11

Mommy was being discharged today. She had managed to complete 30 days of treatment at the mental hospital and she was responding well to the treatment. They felt that she could continue treatment at home since they needed the space for another patient. She was put on anti-psychotic medication and a social worker was to check up on her and Petal every once in a while. She had to attend monthly meetings at a local community centre and do some voluntary work. The charges against her were dismissed because she was mentally unfit at the time of the crime and because she had no prior offenses. Petal wondered if Blunt knew about any of this. He really wanted her to be arrested. He wanted her to decompose in jail while he stayed at the house or sold it or whatever it is that he wanted to do. Petal had decided that they should leave the house issue for now. She needed to focus on mommy getting well. It was amazing that she was absolved from her crime, that Petal found a job, she could continue to pay rent and that she had such a good boyfriend. Petal was feeling very grateful to God. She felt bad for the times when she had little faith and was upset with God.

Petal had bought some clothes for mommy. She was unsure of which size to buy but she ended up getting them in medium size - better to wear something slightly big than something that is too small and does not fit at all. When mommy appeared in the new navy dress and cardigan, Petal lit up. Mommy looked so bright; her face was plump and her skin was almost lemon like in colour. She was clean! She went over to her and they hugged. After signing out and getting the medication. Nomu and Petal decided to go for lunch, maybe Home Style, Annette would be thrilled to see them.

And thrilled she was. When Annette spotted the mother and daughter she ran from behind the counter and threw herself at Nomu forgetting that she was hugging her while wearing an apron covered in food spills and splashes. Annette was a chubby woman with short greying curls. Petal had always thought that she looked so motherly. She had secretly wished that she had had a chubby mommy to give her mama bear hugs. Nomu was not a big hugger. The two older women laughed and hugged and kissed. After a while Annette greeted Petal with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Today I will make you something extra special and I will make it myself. What would you like? Have a seat!" She gestured for them to sit at a vacant table for two. After ordering some drinks they enjoyed a creamy dish of penne pasta with roasted butternut and ham. And then Annette insisted that they have vanilla panna cottas with mixed berry sauce. This was a big and tasty lunch. Annette joined them for the dessert. It was good for Petal to see her mother like this; chatty, smiling and actually aware of what was happening. She was herself again. After the long hard months, Petal was grateful to have her mother back.

Work was pretty straight forward. Petal answered phone calls, responded to emails, received packages, took messages, ordered stationery and various administrative duties. Pretty straight forward receptionist duties. There was one other receptionist, a tall lady with long manicured fingernails and they would alternate shifts accordingly. This was no dream job but it did pay the bills and now that Petal had another mouth to feed (mommy), she really needed this job. She had started looking at various courses online. She was still not sure about what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. All she knew was that she wanted it to be meaningful. Oh, the things that she would do if money was not an obstacle. The other day she was slouching on the sofa after b drinking tea and watching TV. There was a show on how the lottery changed people's lives. Most of these people were just surviving before they won the jackpot. After the jackpot they bought the "toys" that they had always wanted (usually unnecessarily expensive cars), they built their companies and some even helped other people. Regardless of what they did with their winnings, they all said that they would not have been able to fully live their lives if they had not won. "If money was not an obstacle...." Petal wondered.

After work she would pass by the community centre to get mommy if she was not home already. They would cook dinner together and carry on with their own business after eating. It was not as easy to get together with friends and Malik since mommy returned home and since she had started the new job. Petal had less time in the day now that she had to commute to and from work and she did not feel right about leaving mommy alone in the evenings. At least in the mornings and during the day she would help out at the centre, attend her meetings and occasionally meet with the church ladies who had welcomed her with open arms and offered her so much support. They would bring her home and keep her company sometimes. Some offered to drive her to get her medication whenever Nomu needed to go and get it. They prayed with her and for her and did some bible studies with her from time to time.

Petal liked them, however, she did feel as though they were too much at times. They were really nice and had good intentions but..., it was certain small things which annoyed Petal to an extent. For example, they would answer their phones like, "Praise the Lord." Which was not wrong but seemed kind of showy and pious. It was also in the way that hey dressed and walked and talked. Petal could not help but wonder if they kept that up the entire day. She remembered one occasion when mommy had dragged her along to some church ladies thing and the looks of dismay caused by her electric blue hairdo. It was not because Petal was an atheist that these little things annoyed her at times, it was because the church and society at large have a certain distorted idea of what a good and religious person looks and acts like. Petal did not really like all the useless duties and rules which came with religion and being religious - she felt that they caused division instead of unity. "Just be good to people and the world as much as you can." That was what Petal believed was true Christianity at the end of the day. It was not easy but it was what should be at the crux of every religion - at least that was what Petal believed.

Nomu had been feeling overwhelmed over the past few weeks. She did not want to say anything to Petal because she did not want to distress her, and she did not want to say anything to the ladies from church because they would see it as a weakness in spirit. She had been home for almost a month when she started feeling like she could not keep up. It was all the stuff at the centre; the projects, the duties and signing in and out every day. It was all the bible studying and prayer groups which needed her to be at the church or somebody's home or at some church gathering. It was the social worker checking up on her and asking many questions. It was having to remember to take those damn pills after every meal (which she was not so good at remembering lately). It was the way Petal was always working and cleaning and cooking and smiling. She could not keep up! The group meetings at the centre were supposed to help her cope, but so far there had been so much to do at the centre that they did not have the weekly meetings as they were supposed to. If they did, the meetings were disorganised and either too long or too short but always ineffective. This was because the centre and these group meetings were run by ordinary people who wanted to volunteer and play their part in society and were offered brief training. Unfortunately they did not always possess the necessary skills and the people with the necessary skills were too busy opening private practices.

It had been a long day within the face brick walls of the community centre. Today they had been preparing soup and food parcels for children and poor families. It was dark, chilly and rainy outside. It had started to rain at about 1PM and it carried on until the evening. The flattened cardboard boxes on the floors were getting soggy as the multitude of people came in and out of the building. Nomu had been serving bread and soup from giant steel pots for hours before she helped to mop up the filthy floors and finish the dishes. For some reason it had been painfully hard to smile today. When the time to go home eventually arrived, she grabbed a plastic poncho from the store room and ran to the bus stop. Petal mentioned that she would be coming home late. The weather was miserable. Because the rain was so unexpected, Nomu was not nearly dressed enough for the weather. Her feet were cold and she was starting to get the sniffles.

The weather was wonderful for hot beverages by the fireplace with Malik. He had insisted on picking Petal up from work and spending some time with her. He had sent a text in the morning telling her that he was picking her up after work and that he was not accepting excuses. Since it was cold and rainy by the time work was over, they decided to stay in, keep warm and chat. Petal was beginning to dose off by the fireplace - rainy evenings always made her feel sleepy and when she did finally sleep it was always a deep sleep.

"I think I should take you home before you drool all over my throw."

Petal lifted her head and rubbed her eyes.

"I do not drool."

Petal was sleepily singing along to Dolly Parton's "Jolene" when Malik's car came to a stop outside her apartment. "Oh flip. I forgot the umbrella. Let me walk you out." Malik took his jacket and ran over to Petal's door. The cold air instantly woke her up. Malik held the jacket above their heads as they ran up into the building giggling. When they got outside Petal's door, she saw the light from under the door and knew that mommy was home and still up. They said goodnight in the corridor and Petal entered the apartment.

The smile on her face turned to horror. She let out a cry as she ran to mommy who was hanging from a burglar proof bar on the window, belt around her neck. "What!" She could not believe her eyes. When Malik heard the disturbing noise, he quickly turned on his heels and ran into Petal's apartment. Her mother was in a pink night dress and she had a belt around her neck which was tied to a bar on the window. He froze for a moment, and then he saw his girlfriend shaking all over. He began to go over to the strangled woman but someone grabbed him and swung him over to the door. It was Petal. Why?

"No, go!"

What was wrong with her? "Let me help you!"

"No, just leave Malik, this is a family issue. I will handle it."

"You cannot handle this (he gestured to the woman hanging from the window). Please let me help you."

"Stop it, stop it, stop it. You are not my hero O.K. I do not need a hero, we do not need a hero. Just leave!"

Tears were streaming down her face and she pushed Malik forcefully out of the apartment, shut the door and locked it.

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