“Love is easy, it just happens. Relationships require much work,” mama told me as we walked along the lake near her home.
Mama had done what few women could do in her day; she got divorced. It was a local scandal and an embarrassment to both families. Even her parents struggled to understand. Pop, though, was gracious. A kind, easy-going man, his primary care through the ordeal focused on making sure I would be fine, and as would mama.
“Did you not love pop?” I asked her.
“Oh no, I loved him dearly. I love him dearly still, even now almost twenty years later, the feelings never faded.”
“Then, what happened?”
“It’s a long story, but one day I felt uneasy on a walk to visit your grandparents. I felt dizzy and unstable; my heart started racing. I sat down, the feelings eased. Then when I got back up, the they came back. I thought that was it, my end had come. I laid down on a bench, afraid to stand. Then I felt a soft touch on my shoulder. It was your grandpop. He helped me up, and we walked home together.
These attacks continued for a few years, progressively becoming more frequent. They crushed me. I couldn’t be your mother, couldn’t be a good wife. I just couldn’t do the work. One day I decided they were too much; the time had come to leave. Your dear father was so kind when I told him. Told me that I had his support.
I packed my bags and went to Europe. Spent a year living in a sanitarium in the Swiss countryside and then moved into a small apartment in Paris. By then, the attacks were less a part of my life, but going back to the states felt too frightening. Throughout the years, your father sent me photographs, wrote me about you. Often I cried thinking about having left.”
“Pop always spoke well of you. I never understood why he wasn’t angry.”
“Your father didn’t judge me. He could see and feel my pain, and he understood how life’s winds blew our marriage. He was strong enough to withstand social pressures too. Never said a word about all the talk in our stifling community, and there was much of it.”
“Why did you divorce him?”
“I knew he wouldn’t divorce me, and I wanted him to find someone new. He deserved love, and you a mother.”
- “A Kind of Love” is a work of historical fiction. The story, characters, and incidents are fictitious.
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