Growing up with a father’s wrath

Ester Wood

Growing up I never saw my mother drinking or smoking. My father, on the other hand, was a very aggressive man who normally manhandled us and abused my mother. My mother was scared of my father and so were we.

If I think back when we were staying in Valhalla Park, years back when I was five years old, my father used to come home drunk, then he would start an argument just to hit my mother. He liked to hit her with his fists, as if he hated her for some reason only he knew. How can you meet a young woman in church, marry her, conceive eight children with her then ill treat her and your children like some kind of animal?

One day he took the hose pipe and wet the whole house. As children we could do nothing to help my mother when he was on the warpath with her.

My father had a rule in our house – when he came home at night every child had to be present.

If you were caught outside, that child would get a beating he or she would never forget.

He beat us with great wrath as if he really wanted to harm us. He used to grab my brothers by the ankles and turn them upside down. Then he would beat them with a belt with much anger. I think that caused them to hate him as they grew older. When they were older, they took revenge on him for all the abuse through the years.

I felt sorry for my father when my brothers got older and started to abuse him in turn.

Abusive parents don’t know what gate they open when they abuse their children and spouses.

We were five daughters and three sons, but, due to my father’s wrath towards us, three children died, and it was because of him.

My father abused my mother physically, not caring if she was pregnant or holding a baby in her arms.

One night he came home full of an evil spirit. He started an argument with my mother and started to hit her with his fists. He was so blinded by anger that he did not even see the baby in my mother’s arms ( or maybe he did and did not care).

The first blow was meant for my mother but it struck my baby brother in the stomach. The baby cried non-stop. I don’t know what my mother did to calm him.

Eventually he quietened and went to sleep. But that blow surfaced after a few days when he was 17 days old. He died of that injury.

I think my father was jailed for my brother Edward’s death.

However, his wrath did not end with Edward’s death, it continued with my sister – the next victim.

When my mother was pregnant with my sister Johanna, my father used to kick and beat her, not caring for the baby inside her.

When Johanna was born, due to all the abuse my mother and she suffered, her tiny fragile body could not stand more and she died after a few months.

After my brother and sister’s deaths we moved to Mitchell’s Plain – the abuse demon however moved with us.

My father got worse in Mitchell’s Plain and often left us for spells at a time. My mother told us he left us for another girlfriend or he was jailed. He also had a second “hobby” – he liked to steal and would end up in jail.

As my two brothers got older, they became abusive towards my father. They each became members of rival gangs. They fought a lot, but I think there was a big bond of love between them.

I will never forget when my youngest brother was killed because of his gang affiliation. The night he died was like a horror movie; they gunned him down like a dog in the street.

His killers were never apprehended.

After his death our lives were never the same again.

I don’t blame my father for his death, but I blame him for making my brothers aggressive.

The Bible declares that we must honour and love our parents, but what if children are driven to hate their parents?

My father continued with his abuse of us. He returned home after a long absence. I think he was in jail. He was 66 years old, looking frail and very thin, like a skeleton.

I asked my sister why he looked so sick and she then told me the shocking news – my father had full-blown Aids. He only came home to die.

He returned home in January and died in May in my presence in hospital.

I used to ask him if he had anything to tell me and his answer was always no he doesn’t have anything to say.

He never confessed or apologised to any of us. He died all sad and lonely.

Eight months after my father’s death, I tested my mother for any sickness or diseases and was saddened to find out that my mother was HIV positive at the age of 70.

None of us had it, only my mother and father. I think he infected her after we were born.

I was sad and disappointed for my mother but her status didn’t push me away from her and my father.

I cared for and loved my mother until she blew out her last breath.

I always had a soft spot and compassion for my mother, not because she was my mom, but because she loved my father and was loyal to him as his wife until the end.

My mother died six years after my father in front of my sisters and I.

I will always love and cherish my mother for her belief in God and how she cared for us through all the tough times with my father. She still had a loft of love inside her.

I don’t hate my dad, I just wish he didn’t rob us of a loving, God-fearing mother.

I wrote this in loving memory of my mother, Lucy Wood.