J*** was going back and forth from work to see his daddy. He called me one day and was emotional. He was crying and said that he should have protected me and he didn’t. Then he said “I know one thing and that’s that I’ll never make you feel second again.” Maybe it was because he was seeing the end of his daddys’ life.
I think I called bullshit on that phrase. I, at some point, told him that the only woman he had ever really loved was his mama. That sent him into a rage. He was screaming “this conversation is OVER.” It really must have struck a nerve. I wonder why?
It became apparent that J***s’ daddy wasn’t going to live much longer. My two oldest daughters drove up to C********* and we all three went to see him. He was in the hospital. When we got there, J***, R***, J***s’ brother, my sister-in-law and their two boys were already there.
R*** came out and hugged B***** and K****. She started walking toward me and I took a step back and shook my head “no.” She made a gesture with her hands and went back into the room. I stayed outside and was leaning against the wall.
My sister-in-law came out and the first thing she said was “I was sorry to hear about your mama.” I asked her how she knew and she said “J*** told us.”
He had promised me that he wouldn’t tell anybody, and he had told them. Breaking a promise to me meant nothing to him.
I just looked up at her and said “people get old and die.” She turned around and went back into the room.
They had done a pet scan on J***s’ daddy and as J*** put it, “he lit up like a Christmas tree.” I went into his room and he was periodically throwing PVCs but was alert and oriented. They told J*** he had about five days to live.
He wanted to talk to us one by one. B***** came out and was just useless. I took her to the waiting room and she was crying so hard she could hardly talk. She said “why did he wait until he was fucking dying to tell me that I was beautiful and that he loves me?”
I thought to myself, “because that’s the way it works. It takes death to bring out the emotions that should be displayed every single day of somebodys’ life. Nobody will give you flowers and kind words until they’re dying or you’re dying.” I HATE IT.
K**** was next but she wasn’t as shaken up as B*****.
Then, it was my turn. R*** was going to come into the room and J*** had to keep her out. He told her that his daddy wanted to talk to me alone.
I had never hated J***s’ daddy the way I hated R***. The fact that he let R*** abuse me and never said a word is what I hated.
He wanted me to hold his hand and I did. He started telling me that he had loved me for thirty years, which I had a hard time believing. If he had indeed loved me, then he loved me the same way everybody else had loved me.
He said he knew that I had suffered from R***s’ abuse and then said “sometime things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it.” That was true but it wasn’t applicable. He had a mouth and from what I could tell, he had a spine. He had just always chosen R***.
I told him that I wished he had taken time to know me and if he had, he might have found that I was smart, funny and fiercely loyal.
He wanted me to promise him that I would forgive J***.
I told him that I wasn’t going to lie or start blowing smoke up his ass at this point. I promised him that I would “think about it.”
Then, we got down to the REAL promise he wanted. He had softened it with the notion that he actually cared if J*** and I stayed together. The real promise he wanted from me was to make sure that J*** took care of his mama.
I just laughed and said “you don’t have to worry about that. J*** has always cared more about you and his mama than he has about me and his children.” He said “I know it seems like that.” I told him it WAS like that.
So, there you have it. He didn’t care whether or not J*** took care of me. He wanted to make sure J*** took care of R***.
Everybody was staying at R***s’ house. K**** and B***** took their things to her house and put them on the floor. R*** came in and told them to “get those things out of there.” I was in the back room, waiting for J*** because there was no way I was staying at her house. I didn’t hear R*** say that but I saw her talking to K****. K**** was crying and I thought she was crying because her grandpa was dying.
She wasn’t. She was crying because R*** had decided to straighten her out. R*** was badgering her about B*****. She had gotten it in her mind that B***** wouldn’t even hug her. Both of my girls hugged her but she passed the word onto J*** and everybody else that they didn’t.
Later, J***s’ brother was sitting outside on the curb, talking to K**** and B*****. B***** finally got up and left because J** had the same condescending, superior attitude toward them that he had always had toward me.
J*** and I left and got a motel room. We didn’t talk much. I think he was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically.
The girls and I didn’t stay very long.
On August 10th, J*** called and left me a message saying “well, daddy died.” It was six months to the day since my mama had died. It was also six months since J*** had sworn on his daddys’ life and health that it was “only one time.”
He told me when his funeral was going to be. I told him I would call the children and let them know.
K**** and B***** were going to pick up N**** and drive up to C*********. Our son was already there. I took him out and bought him a new shirt, a tie and some shoes.
Everything was set until J*** called me and told me that we couldn’t come. He said he wasn’t even going. He said he had gotten into a fight with R*** because she kept calling me a liar. So……what now? It was clear that J*** just didn’t want us there. He wanted me to call the girls and tell them. He was taking the cowards’ way out.
I called the girls and told them not to come. J*** went to the funeral, of course. There was no way he was going to miss that. He had simply chosen his mama over us………again. His first wife was there and he chatted with her. She asked about me and the children and he lied and told her that we “were all fine.”
He called me after the funeral and I couldn’t help but remind him that just a few days earlier, he was professing to me that he would never make me feel second again and he had absolutely put me second, right behind his precious mama. He didn’t want to hear it and we got into another fight.
The bottom line is that my children weren’t allowed to go to their grandpas’ funeral because of their grandmas’ hatred for their mama and J***s’ love for his mama.
Everybody in MY family thought it was the most despicable thing they had ever heard and they didn’t understand how he could have allowed that to happen.
R*** sent them cards later, citing grief as her excuse. She didn’t bother to send me a card.
After J***s’ daddy died, he got another job in A*******. It was closer to his mama and also his hometown.
He came to see me for a few days before Christmas and brought a box of his daddys’ ties. He said R*** said she thought I might like to have them. He was going to be back for Christmas and I thought maybe I should get him something but I didn’t know what.
I decided that I would make him another quilt. I had made him a quilt for his birthday and it was all about him. It had everything that was indicative of his life. I called it his “himself quilt.”
It took me a while to come up with a pattern that could be made out of ties and I thought I had come up with the perfect idea. I worked on that quilt for seventeen hours straight for three days. I got it finished just in time for Christmas.
Christmas morning, we got up and I handed him the bag with the quilt in it. He winced and said that he hadn’t gotten me anything. I told him it was okay and what I was giving him wasn’t much.
He took it out of the bag and just looked at it. Suddenly, he said “those are ties.” I said “yeah, those are your daddys’ ties.” J*** said his first thought was “what a strange pattern she used.” He got teary eyed and gave me a hug. I think he really did appreciate it.
Here is a picture of the quilt I made for him. He had some of the most hideous ties that I had ever seen but when I put them together, they had a remarkable effect, I think..
All in all, it was a sad Christmas. There had been losses for both of us and there would be more.