I loved Ophelia: Forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum.
Hamlet, 5. 1
I’ve always had a soft spot for tragic women. In my younger years, I fancied that I might become one, but it was not to be.
I remember growing up in my small town, I would see the ladies with their big Loretta Lynn hair, and baby blue Lincoln Continentals and think they must be like Princesses. I would remark on their beauty and style only to have my Mother say something to the effect of how “they weren’t our kind of people”. I didn’t understand, they always seemed nice enough to me.
Mother knew something I didn’t. When I asked about my first Mom, I was told that she was probably a teenager that was too young to raise me. Quite believable and I accepted it without question. It was not so, and Mother knew it.
My first Mother was 36 years old when I was born. She was raising four other chldren and had been married three times at that point. I was not the child of the man she was then married to, nor the child of the man she would marry right after my birth. There was a man listed as my Father, but first Mom knew something I didn’t.
Two women who couldn’t be more different, they both lied to me, for different reasons. one thought I’d just accept the story without ever questioning. The other, somehow suspecting that I would have a questioning nature, offered a half truth.
It is conjecture, of course, to say I can account for the motivations of either of these two women. I don’t feel that I know the hearts of either, but this is how I see it.
My a-Mother lied to me for all the reasons that a-Mothers always lie. Her own fears , self-delusion, and dread of what I might turn out to be. There is little wonder that my mention of the more free living ladies about our town made her nervous, surely she thought my first Mom must be one of them. Nothing in the world would frighten her more than thinking I might become a Virginia Slim smoking, big haired, tight sweater wearing, Lincoln driver. It was against everything she stood for.
My first Mom lied for all the reasons that first Moms lie. She didn’t want to be found, she thought I might hate her, and she feared what I might turn out to be. I’m sure she expected that I would be a Talbots wearing, country club joining, Republican, mini-van driver. I’m not sure this would frighten her, but I do know she knew these type of women did consider her “not their kind of people”.
They both underestimated me. It never occured to either that I would turn out somewhere in between, no matter what they told me. It just seems that a lot of un-necessary bullshit could have been avoided if either had any faith in me, or themselves.