Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the phone call


I made the call today.

It was the call I had been slowly making for two months.

Hello Joe?

It's me Henry.. Annie's Son.

Joe seems to be a lovely man.... he sounds like he looks happy.... I like people like that, it's the way I hope I sound.

I listened to his voice especially carefully today since more than once over the past few weeks I had been wondering if..... I might have been his son also.

I have been looking at photos of Joe, or Papo as he was know then in the neighborhood.

He was a handsome man, Puerto Rican, like my Father, dark hair and beautiful brown soulful eyes, like mine.

My Dad has light gray eyes, my Mother always said that she had prayed for nine months that I would have my fathers eyes..... had I gotten them?

Papo and I chatted for a long while before I introduced him to my true intention.

I explained how I had come across that beautiful and mysterious bundle of letters written by my Father to My Mother just four short months before they were married.

I went on to tell him how one letter...the now infamous letter, had shared the secret of his true relationship with my Mom..... their engagement.

The moment I blurted it out I immediately felt a soft sense of regret...

Would I now be hurting this man..this happy man?
Would I now be forcing him tell me things that his life had so safely hidden?

I  know how hidden pain, no matter how long it has been lying in rest, in darkness, is just as strong when released, at least for those first few  moments, as it was years ago when the first shovel full of silence began to bury it.

Would my questions cause him to feel that loss again?
Should I have left that secret, and this man alone?

Engaged to your Mother? Me?


I loved your Mom...like a sister, we were all so young and so close back then.
But no, I was never involved with her that way..

Why would your Father have said that?
Why would your Mother have told him that?

Why? Why? Why? No! No! No!....My ears were so full of why's and no's that I could barely hear Papo say it...  and then he repeated himself.... and then i heard it.

Your Mother was in Love with Ralphie..not me.


She never told you about Ralphie?

Ralphie and your Mom were going together, man he really loved your Mother.

One night when she was about eighteen Ralphie had been over your Grandmas having dinner.
When he went home he had gone out onto his fire escape to get some air and well...we figure he had leaned to hard on the old metal frame because somehow it gave way and poor Ralphie fell six stories to his death.

Your sweet Mom was in a really bad way for a while...but me, Cory (my Godmother) and the other kids took care of her until.....well until....Henry showed up.

The rest I guess you know... 

I didn't share any more with Papo...

Nothing more about the letters...

nothing about my Fathers revelations..

The rest I don't know... There is still so much more to know.
All I do know now is of one more unbearable pain my Mother had experienced.....had endured... had survived and had hidden.

How I wish she could magically appear before me.

What would I do?

Would I ask her all these questions that now direct and define me?

Would I want to know all these truths, her truths?

Or would I not waste a moment with words?

I think I would just hold her...feel her....smell her.

My Mother only wore Chantilly, God I miss that smell.


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