I was eight years old. We had just moved to a new neighborhood,. and luckily there were plenty of kids my age. That Spring, I found out they were all being signed up for little league tee-ball. "Your Father will be home for Dinner tonight. We'll tell him about it and sign you up tomorrow." I remember running outside and telling Brian and Mike about it. I was so excited. We found a big stick in the open field next door to my house. Mike went home and came back with a Tennis ball. I distinctly remember playing Baseball (Stick Ball) for hours. Even though my Mom was an avid Sox fan, it was the first time I had swung a bat (tree branch) in my life. I remember making Brian call me Ron Kittle.
Quite some time had past when I saw my Father turn down our street. As he pulled in to the driveway I remember feeling even more excitement. As my Dad walked in he waved at us and I waved back. But I didn't want to bum rush him. I stayed outside playing ball with my friends.Sometime later my Mom stuck her head out the window and yelled that it was Dinner time. I said goodbye and headed inside with great anticipation. After I washed up I headed to the fridge and grabbed a beer for the old man. I sat down and we began our meal.
"So, I'm going to sign Jonathon up for tee-ball tomorrow.", said Mom. "What", replied the old man. As my Mom explained everything to my Dad, he sat there shaking his head. I remember just looking down at my plate. After he finished his beer, he shouted, "Absolutely not!". My Mom asked "Why?". The old man went on to explain that "Tee-ball is for little pussies". "You might want my Son playing piano like a little Faggot, but I'm putting an end to this shit right now!" "No way is he going to be some little pussy". I couldn't even look up. Never before had I seen my Father like this. But then again, between work and the pub, I rarely saw him anyway. I didn't know what to think besides for the sadness. I even started to tear up a bit.
Before I knew it, the old man streamed around the table and smacked me on the back of the head. I grabbed the back of my head and tucked my chin into my chest. Dad grabbed me by my hair and yanked my head back. "You keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about. No Son of mine is going to be a pussy!" At that moment my Mom stood up and shoved my Dad away. She yelled at me to go outside. I sat on the steps of the back porch wondering what the fuck I had just witnessed. I had spent eight years in this family without ever seeing anything like this. Why was my Dad so angry? Why did he hit me? What did I do? Why did my Mom push my Father? Why does tee-ball make me a pussy? What's a faggot? I remember an anger falling over me, a hate that I could not explain. I was so mad.
Mom came out a few minutes later and sat down with her legs straddled on either side of me. She wrapped her arms around my chest and gave me a firm, gentle squeeze. "Are you OK honey", she asked. "I guess so." She went on to explain something that I had not heard before, and it wouldn't be the last time. "Honey, your Father loves you, but he has what we call the 'DISEASE'." The disease as I came to understand it was nothing more than an excuse for alcoholism and abuse. It was the Irish way of saying, "That person is a piece of shit, but they love you". So with a glimmer of hope I asked, "Did he say I can play tee-ball". Too which she replied, "I'm sorry honey, but Dad would rather you wait until next year when you can play regular baseball. But he agreed that you can take those kickboxing classes that Your friend takes." At this time I could care less about kickboxing, or muay thai. But I nodded in agreement as if everything was fine. I did ask her, "Can I still play piano with you". She replied, "Of course you can honey. You can play piano as long as you want."
I gave my Mom a smile and a kiss. But what she didn't know is that a deep seeded anger, resentment, and hatred was planted. A seed that would grow within for the next decade. Maybe it really is a disease.