My mother could charm birds out of the trees. She told wonderful stories. It took me a long time to realize that they were horror stories.

Here is one story. She told it to entertain every visitor, nurse and doctor while my grandmother was in the hospital with a broken hip.

"My daughter arrived yesterday. She was coming down the hall to her grandmother's room and she saw her father. He was crawling on the floor sideways like a crab. He was right against the wall. She thought he had completely flipped out. He looked up and saw her. He was helping a woman try to find her contact lens on the floor! Isn't that ridiculous?"

Everyone laughed.

But, you say, that's not a horror story.

Ah, but it is. My father was an alcoholic. I can't find a picture between when I was 8 and when I finished college where he is not drunk. He has that out of focus wild eyed look. By high school I would walk in the house and stop and try to sense the air. Were we in the asleep in a chair or fetal ball in the hall stage? Good. I liked that better than the goofy silly make no sense stage or, worst of all, the stage where he would get maudlin, say, "You can tell me anything." and cry. We avoided that like the plague and he wouldn't remember it. He had me crying once when my mom came home. I refused to speak of it and the next day she said, "Your dad said you were talking about the cat being missing." No. We weren't. I didn't know if he couldn't remember and was covering or was just lying and did remember. I just said I didn't want to talk about it.

So, when I went to see my grandmother in the hospital with the broken hip, I was in medical school. By then I had done two alcohol interventions with my father, the first alone when I was 20. My mother and sister refused. Now, while I was in medical school, my mother had joined in an intervention. My father was not drinking.

When I saw him in that hallway, it was horrible. I was sure he was drunk. He did stuff like that when he was drunk. Crawl sideways on all fours down a hall. You could not predict anything. I stood there, afraid, horrified, furious and hurt. When he looked up, he saw my face. As soon as I saw his face, I knew he was NOT drunk.

He told my mother. She made it into a story. Everyone laughed. I sat there as numbed as I could possibly be, trying not to think about how frightened, hurt and horrified I'd felt. And relived it each time she told it. My sister named the face I wore. She calls it my stone face.

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