The Golden Child is getting a divorce.
This is the member of the family who did everything to surprise and amaze the rest of us, starting with being born female – that late-night phone call, her father’s ecstatic announcement, “I got me a God-damned girl!” – and taking piano lessons and going to college and marrying an almost-preacher and teaching her boys to hunt and teaching Sunday school. There was that boyfriend she went to the beach with before she was married and evidently a little sumpin-sumpin happened after she was married, but as her brother noted, that branch of the family has always been a little randy.
My nuclear family does not Discuss Such Things. Though a friend raised in a similar fashion managed to develop a highly-sensitive nuance-detector, I think it made me a bit slow to catch on to hints and clues; it took me thirteen years to realize my mother’s boss and her partner were more than just roomies. While Discussing Such Things may feel like smothering, it would also seem to hold family members accountable for their own behavior.
If it is true that a child of divorce has a poorer chance of marrying and staying married, I suppose we can point fingers at my grandmother, although in my and my brother’s cases we would have to add the “it can skip a generation” corollary. That would be good news for my children, but not so much for my grandchildren. Damn.
Anyway, it wasn’t my grandmother’s fault; her husband left her for a younger woman, or so the story went. A tale goes around the family: my two grandparents were sitting in the front room, each reading a section of the paper. Grandma observed, “Mavis Smith died.”
“I don’t know Mavis Smith,” replied Grandpa.
“Of course you do,” Grandma snapped. “She lived next door to us in Wadesboro.”
Grandpa lowered his paper and peered over his glasses. “I didn’t live with you in Wadesboro,” he replied drily.
Grandma quickly found a reason to go to the kitchen. Evidently, she didn’t believe in Discussing Such Things.
There have been many divorces in the family. Two of my three aunts and two of my four uncles have been divorced (and another uncle is married in name only); my mother says if she was the wife of the other uncle, he’d have been divorced by now, too. As the most recent veteran, I was instructed to talk to the Golden Child.
“I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to be talking you out of it or talking you through it,” I said to her quietly in greeting.
“At this point, just talk me through it,” she groaned. We hugged, members of the Club.