“My mother would not let us tell anyone Dad was knocking us around. My silence was simply another facet of my patriotism. My youth filled up with the ancient shame of a son who cannot protect his mother. It would begin with an argument and the Colonel’s temper would rise (one did not argue with the Colonel or the Major or the Captain or the Lieutenant). He would backhand my mother, and her pitiful weeping would fill the room. Her seven children, quiet as Spartans, would lower their eyes and say nothing.
Later, my mother would recover and tell us that we had not seen what we had just seen. She turned us into unwitnesses of our own history. I breathed not a word of those troubling scenes to my teachers, coaches, relatives, or friends of the family. If asked, I think I’d have denied under torture that my father had ever laid a hand on me. If the provost marshal had ever arrested my father for child abuse, his career in the Marine Corps would have ended at that moment. So my mother took her beatings, and I took mine. My brothers and sisters, too, did their part for the Corps. We did not squeal and we earned our wings in our father’s dark and high-geared squadron.“
“…So my mother took her beatings, and I took mine…” Damn; again, I can ‘relate.’
There was one night in Okinawa, who knows what I did. I’m sure it was a heinous offense though. Dear Ole Dad was whipping my ass and I heard Mom standing at my bedroom door crying, “Bob, that’s enough, you’re hurting him!” I remember thinking to myself, “It’s okay Mom, at least he’s not pounding on you…”
And so, my “normal” of ‘family’ began… it wasn’t until years later that I learned different. I am SO grateful I didn’t follow in those footsteps!