As some of you familiar with my blog may know, I am near publishing a collection of my mother’s writings. One last-minute suggestion from a good friend was to include in the book some brief personal remembrances of her by the grandchildren and me. I have since recreated three incidences my mother and I shared. I decided to post one of them here. It is not a happy remembrance, not at all, but I think I lucked out when I consider how devastating it must be for a young child who has to live through his parent’s divorce. So, in that respect, my story ain’t so bad after all…
My parents were a pretty compatible duo. They were married a little over 43 years when my father died. In most of that time that I was around I can hardly remember any kind of serious dispute between them. I think my mother would have liked my father to be a bit more assertive and my father would have welcomed a little less of that from my mother.
I recall only once witnessing a serious divide between them, so serious I still remember the horror I felt as the dispute played out. I had to be about six or seven years old. I do not know what the issue was. They did a pretty good job of keeping it hidden, except for one highly unusual and unsettling circumstance. That was revealed one Saturday morning to my brother and me by our mother. She explained that she and my father could not come to agreement over something and she felt it best if she were to leave. WHAT!
I actually have no recollection of how I reacted other than I still distinctively recall this horrible feeling engulfing my entire body. It was part fear, part sadness and part everything else on the menu that feeling upset includes. But I do not remember acting out in any way. I think I was numb or maybe even in shock.
Mom explained that my father was off running an errand of some sort and that she was going to take my brother and me to this popular shopping area where we used to go to just about every weekend. There were no malls back then, just sections of the city where store-lined streets were clustered. It would be there that she would say goodbye and leave my brother and me on this one corner where my father would arrive shortly to pick us up and take us home…but only after Mom had gone her separate way.
Any other details of the day are beyond me. I cannot remember them or I do not wish to. It was the end of the world for me and I felt nothing but fear and a horrible sadness that I would never see my mother again. I must have been really traumatized by all this and I am sure you think my parents where frightfully inappropriate in handling the situation. Perhaps so, but despite the fact that I never discussed the event—ever—with anyone except maybe my wife, I must have gotten over it because there are far too too many loving memories of my parents and the four of us as a family, that this was simply an anomaly, a bad hiccup.
Mom was true to her word. She kissed us each goodbye on a street corner, and my brother and I watched her walk off as we dutifully stayed put, waiting for our father to arrive. That took only seconds so he had to have been close, probably watching over us. He told us the car was parked up the street and we began walking that way—the same direction my mother had taken. I kept hoping we would catch up with her. But that wasn’t necessary because there she was, walking back toward us, looking at my brother and me and holding out a lollipop in each hand for us. While my brother and I unwrapped our goody my father took my mother’s arm and the four of us walked up the street, got into the car and went home.