August 20, 2006
Family Reunion
Posted by Gordon Smith

We attended the Smith Family Reunion in Eau Claire, Wisconsin today. The SFR is a subdued affair. My parents are over 80 years old, and they enjoy just sitting in the backyard and telling stories.

My mother recently had cataract surgery, which left her with a black eye. Is that common? She seemed to be taking it in stride, but it looked horrible. In any event, it prompted a retelling of the story about the time my father punched my mother between the eyes while she was sleeping. She was pregnant with my older sister at the time.

That all sounds perfectly horrible, and I assume that it was, though my mother laughs about it now. Apparently, earlier in the day, my father has gotten into an argument with someone at work, which, for my father, was a Naval base. He was still agitated that night when he went to sleep, and he dreamed about a confrontation with this fellow. "If you so much as move," he thought, just as my mother rolled over in bed.

My father blamed his co-worker, and the next morning he went to work and finished the argument they had started the day before.

Sometimes I wonder if I am adopted.

UPDATE: To avoid the possibility of confusion, this was the only time my father ever struck my mother. He grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm in the 1920s and 1930s, when fighting with other boys was a form of entertainment. Fighting also was part of the culture of the military in which he made his career, but he was not a violent man at home. Indeed, when I was engaged to be married, he made a special point of having a conversation about spousal abuse. In his view, it was cowardly behavior, unworthy of his son.

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