Was it only six years ago? It feels longer. But I counted it up, and it has been only six years since I pulled myself together enough to go to the doctor and have an AIDS test.
I'd suspected for years, but when one has no proof, and a .41 mag in one's ear, one tries to find concrete proof before making any moves.
On 6 July 1998, Crusty finally gave himself away. He came straight from the field with prostitute on him and wanted to have sex. When I suggested he might want to shower first, he drunkenly informed me the hooker in Bogota had not been so picky...
Too late, the next morning he tried to say that he had dreamt he was with a hooker. Right.
I sat in the doctor's waiting room shaking, close to vomiting the entire time I was in the test areas.
I lost it when the P.A. told me that there were now STDs they "have no test for, but that will show up in about twenty years..." I think she thought about calling for a sedative, but I calmed myself, and tried to go numb.
St. Jude's Feast Day. I prayed the days and night following, too, begging the saint of the hopeless cause to intercede for me on behalf of my newly orphaned son.
I didn't deliberately schedule the test for that day, it just happened that way, the first available appointment was on 28th October, Sts Simon and Jude Day.
The woman who drew blood for the battery of STD tests couldn't help but notice how upset I was. (I think everyone in the doctor's office knew what was going on, I felt like a less pretty Julia Roberts in that movie with Dennis Quaid-everyone in three counties knew that Crusty had finally been caught red-handed.) She patted me on the shoulder and said she was praying for me, and asked if I knew what day it was. I told her Sts Simon and Jude, and she nodded, and patted my shoulder again, then pulled her rosary halfway from her pocket. I patted mine, and we shared a silent communion of sorts. (In the Deep South, being too obvious a Anglo-Catholic will get a cross burned on your lawn almost as fast as being Jewish or African-American. I guess it doesn't 'help' that I wear a Star of David in honour of my dad's third wife...A sort of double whammy there, ya know?)
I don't remember how long it took to get the results; I know they rushed them, and I was past the first of the recommended three.
Crusty's insurance refused to pay for the third one. But I am skipping ahead.
Six months later, I went in for #2. Which I don't remember much about beyond everyone looking carefully away as I went by them in the hallway. By that time, most of my so-called friends had slipped out of my life, I was no longer on the Altar Guild, and Fox's friends weren't inviting him to week-ends in the country any more. Too, by that time, I was on foot, Crusty having taken the car-that power of attorney thing again, he had the car title switched to his name. The sheriff was not too helpful, "I'm sorry ma'am, but the car/furniture/bank account... is in his name."
Any road, the second test results arrived in a letter, clear again, see you in six months. If you pass those, you're clear. Avoid risky...
Right. I wasn't having any sex, much less risky sex. I hadn't had sex since July, who were they kidding, did they think I was a slut?????
Finally, the third test. By that time, people were openly avoiding me in the grocery, the Wal-Mart, and I was afraid the doctor's office was going to be more of the same, so I scurried in early in the morning, to get out before the daily crush. But the staff was kind, and professional.
The day I got the results of the third and final test I recall very, very clearly. "Clean." I thought. "Oh thank-you God, I am clean."
I got a bill from them for $11.00, and an apologetic sounding note from the billing clerk that Crusty had canceled my insurance, too.
The insurance company agreed that at the time I had the third test I was still covered, but it was their opinion that the third test was a luxury despite then current recommendations to have three spaced at six month intervals depending on the type of exposure.
I guess my husband having regularly patronized South American prostitutes didn't qualify in Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama's eyes as that risky a behaviour.
I paid the $11.00, I think.
But that was the last time I went to the doctor. I have started laughing somewhat bitterly when I hear or read the admonition to women my age about having regular check-ups. What a joke. I callled the doctor's office, just to see what those 'required' exams and tests would run me. $200 just to walk in the door.
I try very, very, very hard not to hate Crusty when I think of how completely he trashed Fox's and my life. Some days, that is easier than on other days.
I knew he didn't love me. I know he forced me to stay a gunpoint, to take my youth, and crush my family. He destroyed my son's respect for me, and he trapped me in a small and narrow town filled with small and narrow people, and he did it to hurt me, to take away my 'dancing years' and remove me from any hope of being loved by a decent man.
Too bad for Crusty, he reckoned without God.
God will send a great man into my life, and God will hold my son's heart safe until Fox is strong enough to let God help him heal, and Fox and I will have love and a family in this lifetime. Maybe even this year.
Like Barbra always said-"Next year in Jerusalem!" Well Barb, I am really hoping...
THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM!!!!!