Does it seem as if I always only turn to you in times of need, my dearest Jimmy? I must appear to you like some Christians who only ever turn to prayer when they need the Lord’s grace. Do forgive me, sweetheart. I know that only you truly understand me, and you must know by now that my overactive mind always welcomes your ear.
Yes, I am a little sad today. It is Paul’s birthday. He is now the big 3-0, and all I have to give to him is a present worth one hundred pounds. He had his pocket picked on holiday in Brazil last week with all his credit cards and cash stolen. He rang me here to wire him £300 so that he could get back home to London. I phoned him at home this morning to tell him to take £100 out of the £300 he owes me, to buy himself something. But he was out on the town, I presume. So, I sang him “Happy Birthday” instead.
Knowing Paul, it is probably just as well. With his expensive taste, God knows what my son could find to buy in the pricey shops of London for one hundred pounds. Still, it would have been nice to talk to him.
How time flies, eh? It seems like only yesterday I was waving goodbye to my boy in the snow as his father drove him off to start a new life in Jamaica. I had no say in the matter at all. Tom wanted to take his son with him. Paul was only a baby at the time; just thirty months old to be exact. And I never saw my son again until he was ten years of age. Those were some hard times without my first-born. I dreamt of him almost every night and missed him as if he were dead. No contact. No letters. No pictures of him not even on birthdays. It was as if his father had cut me out of my son’s life.
You know, Paul once looked me square in the face and burst out into tears. I asked him why he was crying. He said that I have been living in a “Time Warp” for all of my life. That I am so “innocent”, I have not changed for as long as he has known me. And it is, as he puts it, SO SAD. That’s when I realised that for all of his arrogance and with all of his thick-skinned behaviour, my son has a good heart beating inside of him.
A few weeks ago, I went over to his place. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to tell him that I had fallen in love. But then, I would have had to explain, and it is so complicated. I am ancient, you see. How could I be so bold as to tell my son that I was in love with a man from 1959 and only fell out of love with him in 1993 to fall for someone new, and then, someone I am not even too sure about? How does a mother explain to her 30-year old son that after 34-years, she has fallen out of love with someone who isn’t his father?
She has been in love with this someone since before her son was born. Her children’s father has been dead for ten years. She and the boy’s father, her husband, have been separated now for twenty-odd years. She would have to explain to her son that she fell in love with the man she should have married, three years after she married his father. She would need to tell her son that she has remained in love with this man for all of her life, even for seven years after she found out that this man had died in 1983.
This is not something a mother talks about with her children. She has to keep that to herself. So when my son told me I was living in a TIME WARP, he did not know that these were the truest words he has ever spoken. I just could not explain to him how right he was. My daughter would never understand either. The way children are these days, one cannot get them to sit and listen to the benefit of experience. If one could sit them down and tell them, it is better to wait until the right person comes along. But that’s the benefit of experience talking. If you have never loved, how can you recognise true love when it comes your way?
I recognised it, the second time around, on a very supposedly unlucky day for me. But once lucky, twice a bonus. I can cope with love, I think. But after trying to run away from it twice without any luggage, I suppose I have come to my senses now, but I will not tell even Paul! Both kids castigate me for not talking to them about their father. For me, there was not much to say about our life together. It was by far the most miserable time of my existence. The marriage was based on lies on his part, and although the serious untruths were discovered just before tying the knot, I was too inexperienced to break away before that fateful day.
Still, I have learned a lot about human nature over the years. No one person is ever solely to blame for any marriage breakdown. People look for specific traits in a partner, and it does not matter one iota how well ‘preserved’ a girl or how ‘eligible’ a boy may be, it does not necessarily make him or her the right partner for that other person. Most people want certain characteristics in their significant other, and if that person does not possess those aspects in their character, the union will not work.
My marriage would not have ended if I had wanted it to survive. I did not want it to go on simply because it was a disaster. We did not want the same things from life. It was as simple as that. If Tom had had the benefit of a good education the way most of his relatives did, he would have made a good husband for someone, but not me. I would gladly have given my “friend” a medal for removing my husband from my life. Tom made life miserable. I prayed for death each day, preferably his, and that is the worst side of me imaginable. But a man who does not know the difference between right and wrong is impossible to live with, and I should know.
So we started to talk, my son and I, about relationships, love, and commitment. Paul had his clear-cut views as always, and I gave him my opinions, but it seems we were diametrically opposed. We decided to agree to disagree, and I never told my son the name of the person I love. After all these years, even to me, it still seems CRAZY. I could not talk about it to anyone. Not even to you, Jimmy. But to put it another way. It is often said that one falls in love with the person responsible for saving one’s life, and that cannot be a bad thing.
Something had changed that day. Not many people would have noticed it. But the other side played their signature tune, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you,” when they knew damned well this song was about them. This had been going on since 1987, but on that day, they got more than they had bargained for. And as long as I live, I will never forget the reaction, and the special sensation I felt. My silly schoolgirlish feeling was not misplaced. It is as right as ever, despite the sniggers, the nasty asides and the dirty suggestions.
Together, we might even be the one David that slays Goliath. But I am rushing ahead of myself as usual. I am always jumping in feet first and meeting challenges without giving thought to my own safety. Someone has to be there to watch my back and reign me in sometimes when I venture too far into enemy territory. That’s how I first discovered, not so long ago, that I have a special friend. It’s great to know you have someone beside you after fighting evil alone for all these years.
If I managed to lead him into the path of people I know from my past, I tried not to be too friendly. He could be in danger. People may try to find out who he is and may want to put his people at risk. It made things difficult for us, but I knew what I was up against. My family did not have a clue, and they believed that I was ill. They did not see, nor could they understand, what really goes on in the world today. No one can really know just how much this one woman has had to put up with, on her own. Even now, I still wonder if it is all true.
The Niles bus picked me up outside this morning. Along the route, one other woman got on halfway. We went to Howard and around the nearby vicinity. The Driver stopped for a five-minute break, and when we finally reached Jewels, I got off, did the shopping and caught the same bus going back. It was late by then, and I was the only passenger. Most other people were already indoors, and so I talked to the Driver all the way. He is quite a charming chap when you get to know him. I asked him, in my usual Nosey-Parker way, if it has always been like this.
Just him driving alone with no passengers? He said that he has been on this route for over ten years, and now, “they” say that they have lost more than ten thousand passengers. Even if he has the figure wrong, that’s a hell of a lot of people for them to have lost in ten years. I asked him all kinds of other questions, which I will not go into here, but Jimmy, my tummy began to play the usual tricks, and my heart started to pound. I got the strangest vibes about it. Things did not seem too KOSHER to me.