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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fearing Father


My family's home was unimaginably formal. When Father came home from work at 12:15 to attend our 'midday meal' he changed into a house jacket that was soft and comfy yet still formal and presentable enough to welcome unannounced visitors.
Saying 'I love you' to one another or even hugging each other was neither heard or seen.
Displays of love and affections were not in the equation of the Koziol household.
To the contrary - I respected Father to the point that I feared him.
Hearing Father's huge bunch of keys rattling when he walked in the house, I always scrambled: 'Quick, quick, give me an apron' - that I would look busy in the kitchen or finishing the table setting. An apron had to be! Otherwise I could be seen as being lazy, although, I, too just came home from school or later on from work in my (Father's) company.
Appearing as if I had too much time on my hands or was not working on anything resulted not only in earning the evil eye but also an immediate order to grab a bucket and rag to clean this or that. Father always found something to do; yeah, especially for me.
I was dealt a bad hand at birth - I am the sandwich kid, remember? My two older siblings were not at home, Rita, my younger sister, was a wizard in the art of disappearing; Stephan was too young to be shooed around.
Besides, him being the smartest from baby legs on, he evolved to be a master at playing Houdini. Stephan was simply invisible far into his adulthood when he all of a sudden appeared out of nowhere, played foul, stole Father's company and my sister's and my rightful inheritance.

But THAT is another story!

Father was called 'Chef' between us kids and our household fairies, even my mother chimed in when he was out of sight. We didn't talk about Father, but 'Achtung! (Caution!) THE CHEF is on his way'.
A 'Chef' in German has nothing to do with cooking at all. A 'Chef' is THE BOSS.

He would become very angry when he heard us referring to him as 'The Chef',
and fulminate: "There are 500 workers in the factory that must call me 'Chef'. But there are only 5 people on this earth that may call me Father. I demand that you call me that. I am not your 'Chef'"

Thereafter, as long as he lived I respectfully called him 'Father'. We had no permission to use somewhat softer names like Dad, Daddy, Papa or such.

Oh, and was HE a Preacher!
Never ever did I hear a sentence like: 'Well done, Johanna.'
Never ever did I get any praise. Doing things right was assumed thus no reason to waste a word over it, besides, wasting chatter was strongly being frowned upon.
But I, the tomboy, was prone to always doing something wrong. Inevitably came the sermons. Hours long in the evenings, not to waste work-time during the day.

Father scolded me (sometimes all of us) endlessly by repeating over and again his childhood stories, how he and his Mother had to work so hard, how he made it where he was today, how bad I am behaving, how irresponsible my deeds are, and in summation that I am not good for anything. Whatever I brought up, ideas or otherwise, his answer was: 'ACH! (Dear me!) Jo-HAN-na! Stop! You can't do it anyway!'
It haunted me throughout my life. "I can't do it. I can't do it anyway."
I will never know how I produced all the water for my never ending stream of tears during those preachings.

More will come!

Don't forget to hug your kids tonight! It's so important to tell your children that, yes, they CAN. I missed out on that :(
Please , sign up, become a "fan", follow me? Leave a message? Tweet it, click on +1 ...?? I'd be grateful. Thank you!

Johanna (YooHUNNa)


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