Mother and Daughter…

January 16, 2005

It’s snowing again here, just enough to be annoying at the moment. I was going to deliver a desk to my daughter, a 25 year old small desk which her mother bought for me a couple of years after we were married, for my writing. I loved that desk and still do, simply for the memory of it, that it was mine, for a single purpose, given me by a woman I loved and who knew I loved to write, and desperately wanted me to succeed at it.

I haven’t spoken to that woman since May of last year, when our son was married. She didn’t look well then, aging badly, smoking cigarettes and drinking, absorbed back into the redneck town she grew up in that she escaped to when we divorced. She attended the wedding with the fellow who lives with her and who beats her up periodically, and I was forced to sit in the pew next to him. We had never been introduced and I was not inclined to introduce myself, though we had spoken on the phone a few times. Knowing that he has bloodied her face on numerous occasions, left her bruised and battered, and even tried to break her leg by kicking her while she was laying on the floor doesn’t make me interested in knowing him at all. In fact, I’m somewhat surprised I went through the wedding without punching him or asking him if he was the fellow who liked to beat up women.

As I was walking past the table my ex-wife and he sat at — no one else sat with them, not even her family, who dislike him as well — he held out his hand and introduced himself. I paused, thinking of not shaking his hand and walking away, but remembered this was my son’s wedding and didn’t want to stir trouble. (Coincidentally, this is the same son who pulled a gun on the fellow to get him off his mother and out of the house some time back. I wondered what my son thought of this guy being at the wedding?)

This is the same fellow who has been the source of a continuing problem between my daughter and her mother. Her mother showed up at my daughter’s apartment one morning, battered, and Summer called the cops. She convinced her mother to press charges on the guy, and she did, but several days later when my daughter went to her mother’s house to pick up something, the fellow was there again, and charges dropped. He stood outside with my wife, shouting and cursing at my daughter, at her children, calling them half breeds and her a nigger lover.

And her mother walked up to her and said, “Please don’t make trouble.”

That broke my daughter’s heart and also made her angry, and since then she’s not spoken to her mother except for a few brief words at the wedding, nor does she allow her children around her mother.

At Christmas, when I asked my daughter if she’d happened to speak with her mother, she said no, not since the wedding. “Dad, I’ve done a lot of thinking about this. Mom always said she did everything for her kids, and I’ve thought a lot about that, and I don’t think that’s true,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot of things about Mom over the past few years, and I’ve realized that a lot of the things she’s said simply weren’t true. She told me for as long as I can remember how no man had the right to beat you, to never put up with something like that, and here she is with a man like that. She said everything was always about her kids, and it wasn’t. Mom lies, and she’s lied about a lot of things I didn’t know about until I got older. She didn’t do as much as she said she did for her kids. It was always about her.” She added, I”m twenty-four years old trying to raise two kids, with a full-time job and going to school full time. I shouldn’t have to take care of my mother too.”

I understand all that. For years, I protected my kids from the things I knew. Ultimately, when I finally divorced, it cost me. Especially with my daughter, who had thought her father was perfect. When she found out he wasn’t, it hurt her a lot. But over the past few years I think she’s realized a lot of things, and learned a lot of things which have changed the way she looks at me. And her mother. This is sad, too, because she adored her mother, and her mother adored her.

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