June 28, 2010

A Bad Father Is Better Than None - Bruce Atchison

Father's Day can be a lonely time for children deprived of their dads through divorce or death. While their peers are happily making cards and buying presents, these unfortunate children feel unfairly excluded.

My dad was far from perfect but he occasionally demonstrated his fondness for me. In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I wrote of one sublime moment when I felt that rarely-experienced parental bond strongly. In the following vignette, I had just been flown home for the summer holidays after six months at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver, B.C.


I felt glad when I met Dad at the airport but my joy turned to disgust when he insisted on stopping at a bar on the way home. He had left me many times before in the Volkswagen with nothing to do, occasionally for hours, while he had fun with his friends. Now Dad kept me waiting once more, delaying my arrival. As my father drove through Fort Saskatchewan, the Volkswagen stalled and refused to start. After he tried to revive the engine and only succeeded in wearing down the battery, he slammed his fist in disgust on the dashboard.

It was fortunate that the breakdown happened by Ray's Auto Body Shop, a place where I often played. The old cars were extremely entertaining to sit in. I spent many happy hours in the yard, driving to many wonderful places in my imaginary world, whenever the adults weren't watching.

"Well, I guess that's it for the car. Let's walk the rest of the way home," Dad suggested. "I'll phone the shop and they can fix it." I agreed and Dad unloaded my suitcases.

"Is that too heavy for you?" he asked as I picked up a case with each hand.

"It's alright, Dad. I'm a big boy now."

The walk home in the warm sunlight was one of those sublime moments in my life. I felt that father-son bond as we talked and strolled through the familiar streets of my home town. "I wish Dad was like this all the time," I thought. I heartily longed for a real dad and not an alcoholic who occasionally hit Mom.


Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback, containing 6 black and white photos, is available through the PayPal-equipped InScribe website.


  1. I appreciate this little vignette you've given us of your childhood. Sometimes little bites are the most satisfying (and tantalizing - leaving the reader longing for more). Well done.
    Pam Mytroen

  2. Yes, Bruce. I will say I both enjoyed and was troubled at the same time when I read your book. You sure had some tough roads to travel. But isn't God's grace and mercy the finest reward? Be blessed.

  3. Elizabeth9:31 am GMT-7

    Dear Bruce, I don't understand why God chose such a hard life for you. I wish I could hug that little boy you describe in your book; a little love would go a long way and this little boy deserved to be loved.
    I know it's made you strong and it's made you humble. You've grown into a fantastic man and good person. Your books are fabulous and hard to put down.
    Know that you are loved Bruce.
    Elizabeth from Massachusetts USA

  4. Dear Bruce, I was going through my bookshelf last night and came upon your book "When A Man Loves A Rabbit, Living with and Loving House Bunnies. Gosh, that Giddeon bunny was special and a one and only. Same as my Dusty was. When we met you told me there is no such thing as one bunny and that has proved itself over and over again. I hope this note finds you and your bunnies well.
    Love Liz, Cinder, and Lily from Massachusetts USA. Your biggest fans.


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