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The Argument
A moving, humorous story about his parents' only argument excerpted from the author's thus far unpublished memoir, Growing Up Mostly Normal in the Middle of Nowhere.
[708 words]
John Sheirer
[September 2003]
What We Say, What They Hear (Essays) Humorous look at the ways people in romantic relationships misunderstand each other. [1,721 words] [Relationships]
The Argument
John Sheirer

There was never anything close to violence between my parents, and they seemed to be very good friends and life partners, if not affectionate or romantic very often in my presence. In fact, I donÕt even remember ever seeing them kiss or hearing them argue, but they must have done both at one time or another. They certainly had their stresses--some, IÕm sure, developing from the traditional husband and wife roles they each had adopted. Mom once told me long after Dad had died that she sometimes had trouble communicating with him.

ÒWhen he came home from work,Ó Mom said, Òhe didnÕt want to hear any complaints about anything. He didnÕt want to hear that you kids had given me any problems or that his mother had said something hurtful or that I had trouble with the washing machine. ÔI work hard all day,Õ he would tell me, Ôso I want some peace when I come home so I can rest.Õ IÕd try to tell him that I worked hard all day too, but he didnÕt want to hear any of it, not even the good things. I think he thought I was complaining about him or that I wanted him to fix something right that second, but I just wanted to talk and connect with him.Ó

Mom said that things changed after DadÕs heart attacks. ÒHe never really understood that I needed to talk until after he got sick and couldnÕt go back to work. Then he saw all the things I did, and he was more willing to talk about them. We had lots of money problems after he got sick, but I think it made our marriage better having him around more often.Ó

I donÕt remember ever seeing him at our farm back then, but it sounds like John Gray was lurking around somewhere taking notes for his ÒMars and VenusÓ books.

The closest I ever saw Mom and Dad come to having a full-scale blow-up was when I was about seven. We kids were playing in the yard when Mom came running out of the house with Dad trailing behind her. She hissed between clenched teeth, ÒIÕm leaving this place, and IÕm never coming back! Never!Ó

We stared at her as she hustled into the car, tore out of the driveway, and raced down the old dirt road leading away from our farm. This was a woman who didnÕt get her driverÕs license until she was in her early forties. She never drove fast, but this day she was going about fifty miles per hour down the road with a plume of dust billowing a hundred feet behind her. My sisters had started crying and asking Dad what had happened. I was sniffling myself, trying to be strong and stoic but dying inside at the thought of Mom never coming back. Dad kept repeating softly, ÒDonÕt worry kids. SheÕll be back,Ó but Mom was nearly to the end of the road. I knew in my heart that if her car went out of sight, IÕd never see her again.

Just before she disappeared, MomÕs car slowed quickly and stopped. She sat still for a full two minutes while we kids mumbled through our tears, ÒMomÕs gonna come back ... please come back.Ó Then her car slowly started to back up.

Mom hated backing a car, so this took incredible will on her part. She backed about one hundred yards to our old cabin, a journey that took her nearly five minutes of fits and starts. Dad hardly breathed the whole time--partly hoping for Mom to come back, partly worrying about the carÕs rear bumper. She turned around in the cabin yard and drove home to the waiting embraces of her children.

As she walked up the steps to the house with four kids crying and laughing and hanging from her, she just enough to shoot a vicious look at Dad who had kept his distance from our celebration.

By the next day, things would return to the normal peace and calm between my parents, but when Dad saw the look that Mom gave him, his face turned pale, and he immediately turned and walked toward the shed where he spent the next couple of hours rearranging his tools.



"wish u had given more details about the arguement.this one's more like a page out of your's parents relationship with each other and how the kid's reacted.nice ,clear essay though." -- reetuparna roy, kolkata, wb, india.


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© 2003 John Sheirer
September 2003

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