Like lots of others, I come from (and still dwell in) a broken home. My parents divorced when I was... 8, I think. Why? Probably because of my father's mutant work ethic. His marriage to my mother was his third, and he has since remarried. But through all of this he has excelled in the business world, making upwards of $150-$200k annually. Understandably his family, his children, most notably myself and my 16 year-old sister (though he has had others from previous marriages, all of whom have gone on to lead non-productive lives) all take a backseat to his job. He, in spite of his revenue, has several times halted child support in the past, sending our (my mother's, my sister's and my own) living conditions to the brink of poverty. And still he expects us to have a (relatively) normal relationship with him. To keep up the visitations, and all that. At least he pays for the plane tickets to Connecticut.

The rest of my family hates my father for those reasons, as well as others. But whenever the family gathers to talk at dinner and slam my dad, I always defend him. Why? Because he's been there for me so often in recent years, most likely due to my depression... perhaps he's only trying to make up for years of neglect, but it's at least an effort.

This upcoming weekend is another scheduled visit. My sister has something else which she would rather attend. She's afraid to tell my father though. So, she asks me to break the news to him. I gladly accept. So, I call his condo in Stamford, and his wife answers. She tells me that he's at (surprise) a business dinner and won't be back till much later. She tells me that she will forward my call to his cell phone.

So, he answers the cell phone. I tell him that my sister will not be able to see him this weekend due to a prior engagement. He asks to speak to her. I tell him she's in the shower (a little white lie, she's in the other room). He sees right through it. Not to worry, he tells me that it's "not my fault" but thinks that I could have handled the situation better. He asks me to tell her to call him when she's out of the shower. I reluctantly agree.

I tell my sister to call him in a few minutes, and she's visibly shaken. I just head upstairs to do something else.

About ten minutes later, while playing Nethack and Final Fantasy VIII, I hear my sister run upstairs sobbing loudly. I head downstairs to ask my mom what happened, and she tells me my father is "being a prick." I figure nothing could be further from the truth if the result was the way my sister was crying. So my mom goes up to console her.

This was the first time my sister stood up to my father, as far back as I can remember. I would always hear her bitching about him, but just blew it off as exaggeration. But after hearing about the way my father berated her on the phone, I started shaking.

I've always defended my father before, but this kind of bullshit has no place in my family. I don't think I'll ever look at my father the same way again.

I don't think I'll see my sister the same way either. She's got much more courage than I do.