All fall of my Sophomore year of high school, my sister Lindy and I noticed strange things going on. One time Mother was gone for a long weekend to Chicago, and the next time she was gone to Chicago for a week and my dad’s friend Jim stayed with us. We liked Jim’s cooking and way he cleaned up the house. Of course, we knew Mother would be furious when she discovered he had thrown out her “grease saver”!
Lindy and I had a “sister’s meeting” in the extremely small bedroom to discuss the reasons for my mother’s strange behavior (it had been stranger than usual of late). My sister thought that our aunt and uncle in Chicago might be getting a divorce, but I knew better.
Our parents are getting a divorce,
I told her.
Mother came back and we managed to get through our birthdays, my hospital stay, and Christmas without anyone mentioning the dreaded D-word. A few days after Christmas, our dad asked us to go for a ride. This was a very common occurrence, so neither of us thought anything about it. As we drove, my dad said,
Your mother is going to divorce me.
Of course, neither one of us was surprised; however, I begged him to re-consider, even offering to help our mother get a make-over and learn how to clean her house. How was I going to arrange these miraculous things? No clue. But I just kept saying,
Give her one more chance.
My dad, who had given her thousands of chances and who realized the possibility of her changing was slim and none, patiently listened and answered all of our questions. He then proceeded to explain that we would see him every night and all day Saturday and Sunday, so in our world, not much would change.
When we arrived home, Mary was sitting in her big, green recliner.
Did your dad tell you about the divorce?
she asked in a deep, ominous voice.
we calmly replied. It was that calm attitude that she felt she must destroy.
Did he tell you he’s getting married again?
she inquired, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Oh no! I ran to the phone and called my dad. Sobbing, I explained what Mother had said.
I didn’t want to spring everything on you at once. Why did your mother tell you that?
But even as he asked the question, we all knew the answer: Mother would hurt her own children if it meant causing pain to her soon-to-be ex-husband.