Sunday, January 30, 2011
the other woman, kind of
I smile with ease, I surprise myself. We talk about my son's travels, my Iowa City trip - her daughter living in Ireland, her grandson graduating from the University of Iowa. She interrupts a lot and I have difficulty leaving because she keeps drawing me back into the conversation. Her hair is dyed strawberry blond and her ears are pierced, trappings my mother never adopted. Of course, I make comparisons.
I hoped my father would find companionship. That the relationship started this early is troubling. I was stirring pasta and he said, "Should I ask Cathy Thompson to a Christmas concert?" And I lied, the good daughter that I am. Go for it, I said, you have been grieving much longer than her death last July. Sonny would not leave the house the last few weeks of my mother's life, his depression growing. She became delusional, accusing him of untrue things that he took to heart.
Cathy was married to a childhood friend of my father's, a man long dead. Cathy divorced him when they were in their sixties, accusing Bob of spousal abuse. Marie and I wondered about that, he seemed a gentle man, always polite and usually laughing, but there are many secrets out there.
The two couples spent every Saturday night together, beer bottles and cards on the table and my mother was jealous of Cathy. Marie was bound by strong dark moods and Cathy was like sunshine with a robust laugh filling up her whole person.
I am glad Sonny is happily occupied because he needs to be and I know my mother would disapprove. She is a ghost, what feelings I assign her are smoke and I am in a place I don't want to be. I was the daughter who protected. The woman could stand up to the rudest waiter but she was still the little farm girl who hid in the closet when company visited.