Care For The Neighborhood

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December 22, 2009 by David Gillaspie

There are a million stories in the big city, but it takes a suburb to really twist things up.  One man seemed to like it. 

“Three families, well-known to each other, unraveled together.  One person wove through the fabric of all three families.  She was a widow to one man, a girlfriend to another, and the future of the third.

One late summer day her husband took his life, but not in the usual way.  No gun, no poison, and not a convenient location.  Where would a man who built his life in the great Northwest woods go to end his  life ?  Up in the woods.

That a man decides to kill himself is one thing; that he does it in a way that requires a search and rescue effort is another.  The end result is the same, but the manner changes.  It shows character. 

Once he was found, and the end of life details seen to, his widow kept her family together.  It was a strong core.  In fact, she added to her family when she started seeing her husband’s best friend.  The only problem was the best friend was married with kids of his own.

Chemistry is what happens when things fly out of control.  What makes a man take his life is as varied as what makes a man leave his family for another woman.  A best friend can help his deceased buddy’s wife over the rough times, but there is a limit.

Not this time.

Just as every significant event radiates different meaning  to those who hear about it or see it on television, so does the after effects of small change.  A woman able to draw a man away from his wife and family, and remain a normal public person with kids in school and events to attend, is a strong woman.

She is stronger for doing it twice and still live in the same town as all three families?  Is that her strength?

Or does she choose weak men?  I’m not going too far out on a limb saying both men she led astray were in happy marriages.  The women were challenging in both, but the families seemed strong.  If anything the men were the weak links in both.

What man schedules cosmetic genital surgery before dating?  Multiple marbles in the marble sack aren’t as rare as you think.  Paring down to an even number eliminates at least one awkward question.

What man preens and plucks and shaves and scrubs and peels the hair scuzz out of the shower drain without being asked; who wears plaid the way some Americans affect foreign clothes? 

What kind of men leave their sons to clear their own trails, who volunteer themselves as bad examples, a road less traveled.  We know the woman powerful enough to pull men to her, but little of the sort of men.

One leaves his family, returns, then leaves again and returns again.  His wife is the best woman on earth, a woman of true faith.  Anything less is unacceptable.  She has a hard earned inner serenity . 

Another man leaves his family, moving into the same apartments as the first, taking a familiar tack.  He left after a phone call asking the widow “Is there anything there for me?”  Why does it feel like someone asking Alex Tribec for the answers on Jeopardy, like asking Monty Hall what’s behind door number three before choosing.

It’s clear this is a woman who knew her men.  She knew the answers before their question were asked.  She knows what’s behind the curtain.  Most of all she knew the sort of stepping-stones she needed to rise out of her last marriage.

Take every love song written, every torch song lit up, every ballad moaned, and they lack in comparison to the passion of one woman.  Through it all, she seems to have  forgiven herself for what she did, twice, and move on.  She’s become a familiar face not often seen.  A pert tilt of head.  An inquisitive smile.  An acknowledging nod. 

Her achievements over the years show a woman in full blossom, someone in command of their life.  The women betrayed by the husbands she commandeered have rebuilt from the wake of destruction, the shock and pain giving way to a certain peace. 

The young men in all three families, the widow, boyfriend, and future, are reaching out into the world and learning their way.  The lessons of their fathers will guide them all toward better decisions.  They will be better men.  

The daughters are another matter.  They have the lessons of their mother to follow.  They will become the rarest of the rare on earth.  They will know forgiveness.  They will offer forgiveness.  They will forgive the undeserving, the lying, the cheating.  They will forgive cruelty, stupidity, and ignorance.  They will forgive the hatred, the loathing, and the betrayal. 

But they won’t forget.”

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