I did not grow up in a normal household, even if it seemed normal to me at the time.
My dad and mom had separated for a few years after my dad fell into the wrong drug abusing biker gang (no joke!), and so my best friend (I was daddy's little shadow) had left my life. He moved to a local forest area with sparse campsites and we would visit him occasionally to gather his laundry, provide him with canned goods, and check on his well being. Most people would say he has homeless since, well, he didn't have a home, but tome he was merely camping. He had a teepee atop a rock outcropping and a campfire, a clothes line, and a cooler so to ke, he lived there. I still to this day cannot think of him as being homeless.
After he had cleaned up and got back on his feet, he returned home and life went on as usual. Well, as usual as life can be for a man diagnosed with a smorgasbord of things like Asperger's, borderline persinality disorder, ADD, anxiety, sociophobia, agorophobia, major depression, and probably another handful of things I seem to forget. I did not have a dad who wore slacks and a tie, or who coached littlea league, or watched football, or played poker with the guys. This also meant holidays and birthdays were abnormal. He is not good with numbers and so he doesn't remember birthdays (he would forget his own), and he,being himself, wouldn't go out and buy gifts or dress as Santa or decorste the tree. While he loved me and I knew it, he was kind of a scrooge. But I nevef questioned it.
One year I recall seeing something in a plastic grocery bag under the tree and he asked me to open it,a gift from him. He might give you a handpicked wildflower bouquet or sign a card but a present? So I eagerly opened the bag to find some paintbrush-tipped markers. There were not the markers kids get, but markers artists and adults use. The kind of markers thaf cost a dollar each. I was so excited that I looked past the missing colors ,appreciative of the colors I did have. I spent hours that night coloring picture after picture.
I remember thinking, how did he manage to go into a store, which had to be way far away in the city, to buy markers with money he didn't have? I had to ask, and he being too honest sometimes, let me know he found them at the dump. Now you would think I would scream bloody murder, cry, and scrub my hands furiously and call him a monster but I didn't. I knew he had to have washed them off very well, and since it was winter, the dump was freezing so it wasn't like they were sitting in a pile of hot garbage. Besides, I had played eith them for a while and hand't concocted some weird uncurable mystery garbage disease so they were fine. I just knew I couldn't tell my friends about my markers because they would ostracise me for having dump markers.
I had told someone of this (I forget who it was) and they were repulsed and felt sorry for me. I didn't understand and still kind of am baffled. Maybe it is just perspective. When you have lived with someone like my father, who cannot just go to Walmart or whatever, cannot hold down a 9-5 job, but who still does care about and love his family. You don't sweat the small stuff and you appreciate the little things. I guess if you weren't me you would feel sympathy for the poor little girl with dump markers but even to this day, I know he cares and when he saw those markers, his heart filled with love and he brought them home to give his daughter a gift he has picked out. A gift she would love. And I did, as it is 20 years later and I still remember those awesome markers and the joy of getting a gift from my dad.