When my husband had his mid-life crisis, I guess that's what it was, and decided to leave and return to his hometown in Georgia, I was in the middle of chemotherapy. Not exactly the best time to quit a job, and decide to move. We were not close at the time, as he did not want to even acknowledge the cancer, or talk about it. An illness like this either strengthens your marriage or destroys it. Mine took the latter course.
He received a settlement from the company he worked for, packed up his shit, and took my tools, and the computer, that Travis loved, and left. He came back a few times, and the last time told me that he had found a house in his hometown that he thought we would like. The rent was cheap, and, as I was not sure where the cancer was going to take me, (had a 55 to 45 percent odds that it would come back) so I decided it might be the best move for the boys. They knew all their cousins and uncles and aunts down there, and I knew they would have support if something happened to me. I put our beloved farm house up for sale, found a buyer, who would make our mortgage payments until they got their loan, and we packed up and moved.
Of course the boys hated it. Changing schools was a disaster for them. There was no house, but all my furniture and belongings were stored in a house my husband's brother was restoring. We finally moved into a 10 by 50 trailor, and lived there for about 4 months. Child support was out of the questions, as my ex had not found employment. (You can't get blood out of a turnip, no matter how much you beat it.) Because the trailor belonged to a friend, he didn't charge any rent. The only thing about it that was a little uncomfortable was the size. The short hall way was so narrow, that if you met someone coming or going, you had to backup. No room for passing. EJ had his truck and when it broke down, his father didn't have the time to help him fix it, so with the help of his uncle, and doing most of the work himself, he finally got it running.
I soon realized this was probably the stupidest decision I had ever made. The boys father rarely came to visit, which frustrated them. Travis was content to visit his aunt, a wonderful lady who I love to this day, but EJ was miserable. He quit going to school, and decided he was going back home. At this point, I was in agreement. I would have to find a place to stay, but I was told I could stay with Jonathon's grandparents, until I got on my feet. So, after discussing it between the three of us, Travis decided to stay and see how things worked out with his dad. I said, I would miss him, but knowing he was staying with his aunt, gave me some relief.
We loaded up what we could stuff into the back of an old ford EXP escort, and set out for home. A 500 mile drive. Ej drove most of the way, as my panic attacks were in full bloom. I hated myself for the shit I had put my children through. A man who owned a junk yard, where EJ had worked part time, helped me find a place to live, after Jonathon's grandparents and I got into a huge fight about who should tell my son what to do. For a week or so, EJ stayed with friends, and I lived in my car. The junk man, who professed a deep and abiding love for me, rented a motel room for me, and once I got a job, things started to move along. I wrote to Travis and called him, and at first he seemed content, but finally I called and he said, "Come and get me." He never saw his Dad, and wanted to come home. So, after work, and being off the next day, I headed back to get my boy.
Travis packed the car with everything he could stuff in there, and insisted on bringing the big TV. I pictured going back and getting some of my furniture and other things, but never got the opportunity. So, I had my two boys with me, and I was content. Our cars were rust-buckets, and EJ took the responsibilty of keeping them running. He would say when he graduated and got a good job, I would never work again. Oh, blessed child, I told him I would be ok, and I didn't want him to feel he should care for me.
They graduated, and moved on with their lives. EJ met his girlfriend, who he stayed with for the next eight years, raising her children as his own. Travis became the essential traveler, going to Phoenix for a while, coming home, going to Richmond, then San Diego, where I finally got him to West Virginia where I was staying with my Dad. From there he decided to go stay with his father again as he figured he would be around familiar surroundings, and have a better chance to get a job. And it was from there he finally decided to go into the Navy. EJ was getting better and better jobs, and worked like a fiend until his brother died.
Since the fight I had with Jonathon's grandparents, I have never been able to get in touch with them. When a rich and doting aunt died, and left the Grandad a shit load of money, they moved to California, leaving Jonathon behind. I guess I knew when Jonathon moved to California I would lose touch with him, as well. It was not long after he moved, that he wrecked his car, so I never got his address. Now, I have no idea where to send flowers, a sympathy card, or anything. I have searched the net trying to find some info on him, but haven't turned up anything.
It is so odd that life threw us such a curve ball. We caught it, and ran with it, but things were never the same. I will always feel I didn't step up to the plate, and do enough for my boys. But if's and shoulds don't change anything, no matter how much you think about it. What basically happened was the boys went from living a moderate middle class life to a poverty level life. In some ways it was a positive thing, as they saw both sides of the coin, and learned the value of the most simplest things. But a parent wants their children to have it all. Do I hate my ex? No. I feel he payed his dues for 18 years, and that was enough. Unfortunately, he never hid the fact that Travis was his favorite. Which, as any parent knows, causes horrible reprecussions. Travis, however, did his best to encourage a dialogue between his father and EJ. The moderator, the 'let's all get along' philosphy, and he did a good job, but what a terrible burden.
I look back and try to tell myself, that when all of this started, I was sick, and wasn't making the best decisions. But, deep inside it doesn't cut it. I worked through most of my chemo but had to stop because I just couldn't do it anymore. Why my ex chose this time to leave, I will never really know. I know that my brother wanted to kill him, but, didn't.
My ex held a memorial service down there for Travis, and going back, after so many years, was hard on both of us, EJ and myself. My ex would not introduce me as Travis' mother, so I filled in the blanks for him. But just seeing the old friends, the people I had grown to love over the years, was wonderful. I rejoiced in the way they welcomed me and EJ back to the fold, and that is the memory I will hold onto. There were some who would not speak to me, as I had been in an interracial relationship. I was dirt in their eyes. That was their problem. Yes it hurt, but knowing how racist they were, I was not surprised. I thought, nothing could hurt me that bad anymore. I had lost a son. What could hurt worse than that?
I always thought my ex and I would grow old together. I pictured the Sunday dinners I would cook where my sons and their families would force themselves to attend, and look for the first excuse to leave. Which is as it should be.
Before we left our little trailor to come home, my ex wanted to work things out. I laughed. I couldn't help it. At the time, he had his girlfriend, Lavern, staying with him. Incredible, isn't it?
Somtimes all you can do is laugh, until the tears set in.