Melted Popsicles

Published on 6 April 2023 at 17:22

When my brother was a baby, Lee entered our lives. I do not remember a specific day or introduction. One day he was just there and then one day he was “daddy.” Lee was my step-dad but I do not recall ever calling him anything other than daddy. And I think that was even before he was officially married to my mom. In my memory, he was just all of a sudden in our lives and Bob was not. At this point there were four of us kids and Lee seemed eager to be our dad. And we all craved a dad. So, it was a quick transition (well at least in my memory).


The home we lived in at this point is one I do remember. Because it was the first “real” house we lived in. It was in a cul-de-sac and it had an in-ground pool! I remember loving living there. Certain 80s songs bring back the memories of how the pool smelled, how the sun felt on my skin, and the laughter of us kids being thrown up in the air and splashing down into the water. Daddy loved to play with us in the pool. These were some of the best times of my childhood.

I also remember we would go on camping trips. Looking back, I am pretty certain we were camping in places that were not designated for camping. And when I say camping, I mean real camping. Sleeping in a tent and squatting to pee (which I was never skilled at). We would explore the area and be one with nature. These camping trips were a time of fun and we felt like a real family.


There is a lot I do not remember about this time in my life when Lee entered into it or any concept of the passage of time. I just see the smiles and hear the laughter. We were finally a real family. I had what all the other kids had, a daddy who loved me. I do not remember any unhappiness between my mom and Lee, but I am sure it was there. I likely blocked it out or just do not remember.


One thing I do remember rather clearly, is the evening of the melted popsicles. It was summer and summer in Arizona is hot. That dry desert heat that licks at your skin. Us three older girls were always trying to think of ways to earn money when we were little. So, this particular day we decided we would go around the block and attempt to sell suckers. You see, we did not even have the suckers. Our plan was to see who was interested and then make the suckers ourselves to then sell. I am not sure who came up with this idea, or why we even thought it would work. But it was summer vacation, we were likely bored, and who doesn’t want money. So, we walked around the three of us door to door.


See in those days kids stayed outside pretty much the entire day. We did not have the game systems and cell phones. We had the great outdoors, bikes, skinned knees, and drinking from the hose when we were thirsty. The rule though was you needed to be home before it got dark. So, we made our way back to our house on the cul de sac tired and hot just as the sun was beginning to dip in the sky. I do not even remember if anyone was interested in our suckers. As we approached the house we saw daddy’s van out front as usual. He worked for Bob cleaning carpets and doing other odd jobs. That’s how he met my mom. 


As we neared the sidewalk that led up to the garage, we noticed big red drops on the ground. I noticed my sisters tensed up and seemed scared to continue walking. It may have been at this moment when I became the protector of the siblings. I am not really sure. But, I do remember what I said to them. I said to them that we needed to hurry inside because daddy had bought red popsicles and they were melting. That is why there were red drops leading up to the garage. The popsicles were melting and we needed to hurry in so we could enjoy them before they were ruined. I said all of this in an excited voice. 


As I said this aloud, I knew it was a lie. I knew deep down what those big red drops were but I didn’t want my sisters to be scared.  So, I led the way into the garage. Sitting in a chair in the garage was daddy. He looked partially asleep and red was dripping from his wrists to the ground. My sisters ran inside the house to find my mom. I just stood there. I was torn. I wanted to help him but I didn’t know how. Daddy asked me to get him one of his cigarettes. I wanted to help him so I got one out of his front shirt pocket and placed it in his mouth. He then asked me to light it for him because he could not. Back then lighters were a bit more difficult to use. You had to flick down hard on the metal to get it to light. I tried and I tried but could not get it to light. I remember being upset because I could not do this one simple thing for my daddy and I wanted him to feel better. The blood didn’t scare me, the cuts on his arms didn’t upset me, it was the fact I couldn’t light his damn cigarette that brought me to tears. This was the first time daddy tried to kill himself. And this was the moment the dream of a normal family shattered for me.

Photo of Daddy with his cigarette and beer!

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a year ago

That’s a day I’ll never forget. Burned into my memory forever.

a year ago

Wow!! That story held my interest for sure. Dang it!! So sad that you had to live with that sadness and heartbreak!! I love you!!

Karen Dodson
a year ago

I'm so sorry you experienced this, Melissa. I love you.