18 June 2006

As Fox's mom, Mother's Day is and has always been, a not-so-good day. Crusty went out of his way to teach Fox that I was not worthy of respect, much less a card or any of the other trappings of Mother's Day. Or Christmas, or my birthday, or...

But Father's Day has always been the hardest day for me as Fox's Mom.

I'm reasonably sure it has been horrible for Fox.

At first, back in 1981, I didn't want to become too involved with Crusty (once I got to know him) for the simple fact that since I was sober, and didn't do drugs to the point of passing out on street corners with appalling regularity, I'd retained the lucidity required to understand that Crusty and I had different values, different beliefs, and different plans; we had very different ideas about what made a good dating relationship and from there I felt he wasn't good husband material.

I knew from all of that that he wasn't anyone I wanted to become too invested in.

Which is why I told him in May of 1981 that I thought it best we not see each other anymore. I told him he was a great guy, but since our interests, etc, were so different it would be best not to drag it out. I didn't know how far he would go when I tried to break up a relationship I didn't even know we had-how does a couple of dates and hanging out in the same crowd escalate to needing to break-up??

Of course having a gun pointed at my head a month and a half later went a long way toward ensuring that if I managed to survive to escape this nutter, I was going to have a VERY low opinion of him indeed.

Nothing he did up to and including the blessed day in August 1999 he rang out of the blue and said he would give me a divorce ever improved my opinion of him.

The divorce was final on 9th September 1999-we squeaked in under the wire and got the divorce just before Alabama changed the rules; we would have had to go through counseling and over a year of waiting if he'd delayed finally giving in and 'getting' that I couldn't bear to be in the same zip code as him after finding out he'd been frequenting South and Central American prostitutes for years.

And really, in all honesty, the only reason I married him in the first place was the gun to my head, and the only reason I'd stayed was the gun to Fox's, and why finally getting the proof of the hooker habit was the key to mine and Fox's freedom is that I threatened to go to his parents.

Father's Day was always rather dreary at our house.

Poor Fox. His first full sentence was "Daddy is an a---ole." And he was right; I looked down at Fox and the only reason I didn't kill myself in that moment was that Fox was still a little boy, and I was so sure that somehow, someway, God would fix all of this.

But I think God was waiting for Crusty to. I really believe that. See, that free-will thing, the right to choose thing. I know that it is the true covenant, God's promise that he will never strip us of our freedom. And I really think God was hoping Crusty would 'get it' but Crusty never did, he just kept pointing the gun. And finally I gave up on my personal hope that Crusty would 'get' it and so catching him that day in July 1998 more than made up for all the birthdays, and Mother's Days, and Christmas' and all the moments he stole from me over the years, like the times he would sabotage my jobs, school, or solo in the Christmas choir presentation. Because I WAS FREE!

But Fox, my beautiful boy, grew up fatherless.

Knowing that he blames me for that is the worst. But truly I believed Crusty would kill me and Fox if I left.

Crusty isolated me so completely that I had NO-ONE to turn to. He had the acquaintance circle convinced we were the perfect family, and when little cracks showed, he managed to turn it around to my bad mothering, teaching Fox to be defiant...Crusty only hit me once or twice, most of the time he shoved me, once he choked me, but for the most part the physical violence was a fist to the wall, a thrown piece of furniture...a gun pointed with trembling hands while he told me, through clenched jaw-"Look what you are driving me to! Just behave!" And I would.

Crusty DID NOT LOVE FOX-he used Fox as a chain, a weapon, an object of scorn...if I tried to defend Fox, Crusty made life even more miserable for Fox and me.

From day one, all Fox wanted was his dad. I could have fallen off of the face of the planet, and as long as Fox had his dad he would have been fine-"Huh, whadda mean Mom's gone?"

But Fox didn't have a dad. He didn't have Crusty, either, much; I used to beg Crusty to let Fox and me go, I'd say in perfect truth-"You don't love him or me, we have nothing in common, and I'm basically raising Fox by myself-you don't even want to help him with his homework, and I'm the one who taught him to spiral a football! LET US GO!"

Tomorrow is Father's Day. Again. I was going to focus on my dad, try to remember the saving grace, the man my dad was, became for me and my brother before he died. He loved us. It's time to focus on that; I told myself Fox is cherishing his hurt and anger instead of trying to turn it to God's purpose, and that at least one of us had to get past that, and if it wasn't going to be Fox, it would be me.

But late last Sunday night, the guy I had my first crush on-a real guy, a guy I knew, who in a limited way knew me-hey, he was six years older, OK, not a perv, so he was soooo not into little 11/12 year old pests-a guy whose home phone number I actually had and was welcome to call his house because his little sister and I were friends-late last Sunday night, my first crush died.

He died. After I found out, I found out his brother and father had also died. I knew them too.

Jerry and Mike had been hit in the head so many times they developed a condition called Pugilistic Dementia. Jerry died first, back in '99. I knew about Jerry, had known for years. But I didn't know about Mike until late Thursday night-really early Friday morning.

Their dad and mine knew each other. We all knew each other, each other's parents, sisters and brothers. Ours was a big little world back then, and hearing about Mike brought it all rushing back.

I could see their dad in my mind, a man we called Black Jack because his temper could turn dangerously fast. All I could think about was how he loved his boys, and his girls, and how very much he scared me. I am and always (trust me-always) have been rather timid; roaring men scared the bejeebers out of me, almost as much as men who went peternaturally quiet with an equally peternatural swiftness-those kind too could inflict serious damage. Mr. Quarry died in January of this year, and I thought about how terrible it must have been for him to watch his Mikey die the same way Jerry did.

I thought about the differences and the similarities between Mike's dad and mine. I thought about boxing-our very big little world, because we moved in a touch higher crowd than the wannabes.

I thought about how very damn strange it is to be so close to fifty; and having to write a condolence letter to his widow; I thought about his sister, who taught me about make-up and finger nail polish, and who never once (nor did Mike) embarass me about my crush on Mike. I thought about how we'd all lost touch back in the early seventies; I thought about how wrong it was that I heard about his death from an online newspaper.

I thought how wrong it was that Mike died the same way Jerry did, and that he and his wife didn't have a chance to have children-I really think Mike would have been a great dad.

A dad. A real one.

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