My daughter came home one night and announced, “I’m getting a divorce.” I wasn’t surprised about this since I’d told her before she married James that this was a mistake. First of all, James was a good-looking boy – or young man since he was twenty-five – but he was just not right for my Maureen. He knew nothing about design, after all, and since Maureen is an architect and her father is an architecture professor – and I have my own leanings as an artist, there was just no way that this boy – I mean, young man – was ever going to really fit into our family. He was a carpenter by trade and one could say, I suppose if you wanted to truly stretch the fabric to almost the ripping point, that carpentry is an art. I mean it is an art form or can be if you are that kind of carpenter, but the truth is that James was not in that category. He was a framer, for God’s sake not a finish carpenter, and that should say it all for anybody in the know on these things. So, when my twenty-eight year old daughter declared her marriage over to me three years after its inception, I was the last to be surprised.
What I didn’t know, and would have preferred to have been spared, was that the demise of her marriage came as a result of even poorer judgment on her part – Maureen has had a series of bad judgments over the past several years despite everything her father and I have tried to instill in her – and this one made James looked like a good decision. “I’ve met another man,” she confessed the same morning she told me about the divorce, “and he has stolen my heart.”
My hands went ice-cold with that sentimental pronouncement: nothing good could come from such a saccharine attitude, and, of course, I was more right than I wanted to be. The said new “soul mate” was a house painter by trade, making James’ carpentry abilities look far more superior than I knew they were. But alas…
I have known for years that when it comes to Maureen you just have to let her go through these bad choices and eventually she’ll extricate herself. Her architecture is her only real love and for that, I’m extremely happy. So though I was unhappy to hear of this new “lover,” what I knew that she didn’t, and he – Teddy – didn’t know, was that this new star-crossed, you’re-my-everything person would be gone in less than a year. All I had to do was keep my mouth shut and watch the dimming of the star.
What I didn’t expect was the arrival of James at my door a few weeks after the divorce papers were served. “Mother Adams,” he said and oh how I loathe being referred to by that name, “I’ve found the Lord since Maureen left me.”
“You have?” I said, my skin crawling with implications of that statement. “Had you lost him?”
James gave me a reproachful look. “I know you’re kidding,” he said, “since I happen to know that you make it to church every Sunday without fail.”
This was true, but certainly with a different mentality since I was a good Catholic, not some Bible-thumping born-again. “Yes, I do,” I said and smiled icily.
The boy – young man – batted his rather long eyelashes and said, “Could I get you to come to church with me, Mother? It is the last favor I’ll ask of you. I would appreciate sharing my new faith with you.”
I mentally shrank back at the thought. Oh, dear God, please save me from this fate. But I did see that he looked especially sincere. “When?” I asked, knowing it would be the very next Sunday. And, of course, it was.
So there I was in that horrible little church, surrounded with more polyester than I’d ever had the occasion to see in one place, when the preacher welcomed all the visitors. “I see we have some new people here today,” he said, staring right at me. I sat straight-backed in my place, determined not to have him intimidate me. He smiled at me – a gap-toothed smile – and said, “I see James that you’ve brought Maureen’s mother here today. That is who she is, yes?”
James nodded and I tried to smile back. “Yes,” he called out.
The whole church grew stone silent and then the preacher bellowed out the words I never hoped or expected to hear: “Will the adulteress’s mother please stand up?”
I stared and then realized the preacher was speaking to me. I didn’t know what to do so I rose.
The preacher picked up his Bible and waved it in the air. “Let us pray.” He then began a long-winded prayer that mentioned the “adulteress” at least five times and “her mother” at least four. After his “Amen,” I patted James on the arm, stood and said quietly, “Good bye.” With that, I walked out of the church.
I don’t ever expect to speak to James again. That was too much even for me to tolerate. Also, I hope that Teddy is gone soon enough and Maureen can devote her life to architecture. As for me, I’m going to my church to speak to the priest. I think I need to go to confession given the evil thoughts I am now having towards James.