Sins of the Father – con’t

The wad of money bulged in my pocket. It was a modest sum, but in this time, it was a fortune. I knew it wouldn’t last long, but at least it would help carry them through the years my father would be away at war. Between my contribution and my father’s regular installments from Europe’s front lines, my grandmother could breathe a bit easier, pay her rent, feed her children, and perhaps save some for the future, at least until my father returned home.

Rose Rizzo sat across the table from me now, my father by her side. It was just the three of us for the moment, so I took the opportunity to tend to the business of my visit. “I have something for you, an inheritance of sorts.” Their blank faces watched me with nothing more than cautious anticipation for whatever it was I would next say. I pulled the wad of $500 from my pocket. It wasn’t much to me, but to them, it was the equivalent of about $8500, a fortune to a poor Italian family struggling through The Depression. I figured it was as much as I could do without causing a ripple in reality. They must still struggle, there must still be strain, but I knew that this would give, at least, temporary relief; giving them hope for the future.

I put the sum on the table, all bills were printed in 1940 and purchased at auction. The look on their faces was pure shock. I knew further explanation would be requested, but it was my duty to avoid too many questions. I broke the silence with, “It’s what my father asked me to give to you. He was a fortunate man, and asked that his wealth be sent to his family. This is your portion.” Rose slowly reached to touch the stack of paper, as though she was checking to see if it was real. Her eyes met mine and tears tumbled down her plump cheeks. Her features were weathered for a woman in late forties, only a few years older than myself, a stark representation of what hard times can do to the body. She slid her hand to mine and touched my gently, words of thanks were on her lips, although they were unintelligible. I smiled, tears now running down my own face. My father, a man of little emotion, was smiling like I had never seen. “It’s a miracle,” he said, “a true miracle.”

I smiled and sniffled, “There are a few conditions, though.” Their look of shocked joy turned to concern and skepticism. I heard my father say what he always said, “There’s always a catch.”

“Nothing too restricting,” I assured him, “All my father asked was that you not tell your husband – your father,” I gestured to Sonny, “nor anyone else. This money is for you, Rose, to use as you need it. It would be in your best interest if you pretended like it didn’t exist and carry on as usual. It’s for your peace of mind. When your husband doesn’t bring home enough to pay the bills, you can rest assured that you can make up the difference. Save it, buy a house one day, and live life.”

I looked at my dad, whose smile had returned, “You are her angel. It’s life as usual for you. Pretend as though this doesn’t exist and continue to do what you are doing. You’ll know what to do with this in the years to come,” my words sounded almost cryptic, even to myself, but how else was I to say it? Nothing could change, he would still go to war, he would still return, he would tend to her, and she would still die long before my birth, but at least the years would be a bit easier and the abuse she endured from her husband would, perhaps, be a bit more tolerable knowing that she didn’t need him.

After a time, it seemed that Rose began to accept that this was, in fact, her money, and I would not reach to take it back. She put the money in the pocket of her housecoat and folded her hands in front of her. Her original polite countenance had returned and we picked up our idle conversation. She was exactly the woman my father had told me, kind, considerate, loving, and full of laughter. We talked for about an hour or so about life and I took the liberty of telling them a bit about myself, as an introduction of sorts. Impressed as they were with the education I was afforded and the experiences I had, they couldn’t remotely comprehend how different life was for me…in my time. To them, all the things I shared were a fairy tale, and honestly, looking around at the paltry apartment, it seemed as far-fetched to me as it was to them.

***

I made my way down the stoop, it was dark now, and the lighting was poor. The Brooklyn street was so old, but yet newer than I knew it to be. My heart was torn between breaking and overwhelming love and satisfaction. I knew that I had done the right thing and although leaving my father again tore me apart in a way worse than the day he died, I knew what was to come for him, and at least he could rest a little easier knowing that his family was safe.

I walked along the street, I had only a few blocks before I reached my destination, but before I made it too far, I heard someone yell, “Hey!” I stopped as I heard the approaching footsteps and turned to address them. My dad was running after me, a sight I had never seen, since he was already a severe asthmatic and 51 when I was born. Before I had a chance to say a word, he said, a little breathlessly, “I don’t know who you are, or how this all came to be, but I wanted to say ‘Thank you.'” I smiled at him and before I even knew what I was doing, I reached out and hugged him. “It’s the least I could do,” I said.

“You don’t know what you have done for us. You’ve changed our lives,” he said, catching his breath, and I think I detected a little flutter of emotion in his voice.

“Yes, I do,” I replied simply. “Don’t let this change you, Sonny. You still have work to do and a life to lead. You’re a strong, loyal, and good man. Continue to be those things. Just know that you have a guardian angel watching over you and you will live a long life, with children of your own. If you go forward as things are right now, although perhaps a little easier, you will become a wise man. Don’t change a thing.” He nodded as he absorbed my words. I smiled as I turned to continue my journey home, even though it ripped my heart away from him for a third time.

I turned to continue my journey, but then I paused. With one last glance over my shoulder I saw his handsome face and said, looking at the moon overhead, “Oh, and we will land on the moon one day, you’ll see.” I smiled at him, knowing that only a few short years ago, he told his friend during a street stick-ball game, that a moon landing would never happen.

Part 2 – The Government Agent’s Wife

As I think back on my life, I often wonder if things were different when I was a child, perhaps I would’ve turned out different – less hard, more gentle. I can say that I was a relatively happy child and my childhood was pretty normal. Although I knew my family loved me, it wasn’t an easy household. Honestly, I still laugh at just how stereotypical it was.

Myself and my family hail from Brooklyn, New York, but I was raised in the small, Southern Arizona town of Tucson. Both of my parents are Italian, my mother is also half Irish. My father was first generation American, a World War II veteran, and 17 years older than my mom, but they were each other’s first marriage. He was 51 when I was born, and although he was loyal and protective, I still attest that, by the time I reached my teens, he was just too old to raise a teenage girl. 

As far back as I can remember, there was the constant looming threat of his death. He was a severe asthmatic, and had a slew of life-threatening health issues from which he always recovered. Some of my earliest memories are of the fear I had of losing the man I adored. Thoughts of losing him were with me constantly. Fortunately, he had a strong constitution in all aspects of his life, coming from the Depression Era, I suppose that’s only natural, and he lived to be 91 years old. 

As I mentioned, my parents were strong people…and my mother certainly knew how to yell. Actually, she still does, but I don’t want to go any further without saying, I love my parents more than anything. They loved us and showed my brother, sister, and me their love through their actions. We had our issues, and perhaps our household lacked affection, but we always knew that they loved us. 

In my pre-teen years, I began to fall victim to anxiety. I don’t know why I started having panic attacks around 12 years old, but they never ceased. I missed school and am pretty sure I was suffering from depression due to my lack of understanding. My parents were older and in their time, people didn’t goto psychologists or seek mental help, which is why I suffered for so long. By the time I reached 8th grade, I had a handle on my anxiety and I began to flourish. 

I was becoming a young woman in the early 1990’s, a very different age from when my father grew up in the 1940’s, and I began to rebel. Although I never drank or did drugs, my sister, who was 7 years older than me and married to a dip-shit, know-it-all, told my mother I did. She suffered from “middle child syndrome,” and it was fierce. Anyway, like most people, I would later discover that my parents were right, about everything…but kids will be kids, and girls will be girls. At the age of 15, I found myself a boyfriend, and kept it a secret, for fear of being forbidden to see him…since I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16. During the year we spent together, I lost my virginity and had a pregnancy scare. My cousin, whom is more dear to me than my own sister, offered her help. She knew my parents, and she knew that something like this could drive a rift between them and their youngest. So, I was going to spend the summer with her and have an abortion. Fortunately, it never came to that. It was a false positive and I promptly got on the pill. Life was back on track. My boyfriend and I broke up, and like many “first-loves,” I look back and wonder what I ever saw in him. 

I graduated high school early, when I was only 16, and after only a 2 week break, went to college. In theory, I should’ve graduated by the time I was 20, but I had found a sense of freedom I so desperately needed. Just two short years after graduation is when it all went awry. 

In many ways, I was still a child, and my parents did the right thing by keeping me grounded, but it hindered me because I felt trapped. I felt as though I wasn’t allowed to spread my wings…which led me straight into the arms of a monster. 

Fortunately, I escaped with my life and although my dignity was in shreds, I had enough of it left to pull myself back together. Only a couple of months later, I met a man. I was still only 19, newly divorced, and only beginning to figure out who I truly was. He was 31 or so when we met and the physical attraction between us was palpable. 

He was the man at work that every woman admired, and many desired. He was olive skinned, quiet, handsome, and quick to laugh. He was olive skinned, quiet, handsome, and quick to laugh. The scar just beside his right eye, remanants of a bar fight from his younger years, only added to the character of the crushing gaze he would give me through the giant school bus driver’s mirror. Everything about him was exactly what I needed. And I can’t deny that holding the attention of the most eligible bachelor did wonders for my nearly non-existent self-esteem. 

He had a silent strength about him, he was safe. It was only weeks before we launched into a full love affair. We came together on Fridays, sometimes sneaking an interlude on the school bus he drove to the high school football game. It was risky, but the desert seemed to always border the school parking lot. He would park the bus near the dank green shrubby and cactus, and I would park my camaro in its shadow. It was sexy, he would unbotton my stylish flannel shirt and it would drape around my waist, which made us feel as though I was hidden, in case we got caught. Silly, I know, but he was considerate of me in every way. 

Most of the time it was someplace neutral and inconspicuous, since I lived with my parents, and he took care of his mother. Over the next two years we both dated other people, but when those brief moments ended, we always seemed to find our way back to one another. To this day, he still holds a very special place in my heart. In many ways, he brought me back to life – body and soul – and for that I am eternally grateful. 

I met the man I call “husband” shortly after I turned 21, and our love affair came to an abrupt end, although, I can’t deny, I thought of him often over the years. I set back off to college and amidst major anxiety, panic, and a terrible case of Post Traumatic Stress, I completed my Bachelor’s in Psychology when I was 23.

The horrors were a few short years behind me and soon to be a thousand miles, as well. Now, after two years of a long-distance relationship, my fiancĂ©e and I were finally going to be able to be together and start our lives in a new place – Colorado. His career was developing, he was a police officer turned Federal police officer and I was accepting an entry level administrative position. We were off and running. I thought it would be onward and upward forever. I was wrong. 

The Adulteress


Continuing to write fiction…one day at a time. 

If I were a different type of person, I could likely find a reason for such treason. I could blame my parents for being too strict, perhaps, in some cosmic sense, I’m to pay for the sins of my father…and maybe even the sins of my mother. But really, the decision to become an adulteress is not a conscious one. It is a vulnerable one. Men and women alike, there are few, if any, who move through affairs with malicious intent. Unlike those devilish “one-night stands,” affairs are a balm to soothe an aching heart, they fill those tiny voids in your heart that you never realized existed. They are an awakening, a realization, in a way. They force you to see your reflection with foreign eyes, the face is familiar, but the thoughts are entirely new. Nothing is sacred anymore, your beliefs, your morals, not gone, only changed. You find yourself asking, “What do you truly hold dear?” Then, you struggle even more, trying to reconcile the person you’ve become…or perhaps always were. 

Then, of course, you get found out. Perhaps through admission, or, more often, you get caught. Either way, the villagers will happily light the pyre beneath your feet, burning you for not adhering to their moral code. Yet as your soul drifts to some new dimension, you discover that the morality preached is seldom righteous. The villagers have their own dirty little secrets, their lives are a lie, and you have become their sacrifice to absolve their own sins. 

It was never a life goal to view relationships as disposable. I soon found myself asking, “When did loyalty become possession?” I was not in love anymore, my marriage had become a contract, my life one of obligation and possession. My shoulders had become weak from carrying so many burdens, sustaining verbal abuse, and floundering through countless failures. It is probably a bit easier to understand that my dalliance was inevitable. A hand was extended, offering to lift my burdens, a heart was offered to fill those spaces that had been recklessly abandoned. I’m sure, as human as you are, you might possibly offer some understanding. 

Apparently, Now I’m Wandering 

I suppose most things in this life aren’t meant to make sense. I am in love with being free. The soul’s journey is meant to be a mystery. Everything is literally meaningless, unless you give it meaning. You need to have knowledge, but do not let knowledge steer you from seeking the truth. The human body and mind are amazing tools. Every damage is curable, if you understand and let it be. 
Like a cypher, life gives you all the pieces to solve your own mystery. You question your life, your choices, your thoughts, yourself. Fickle lovers tarnish trust. Bad lovers incinerate passion. What was once dead has been brought back to life, yet I’m not sure it was worth it. Sometimes alone is more satisfying than being together. Which is a sad space to experience. Wandering sounds safer than staying.