When I was three years old and my brother just six months old, my father suddenly died, leaving my mother a very young widow.
Her family felt she needed a trustworthy provider for her growing sons, so my uncle introduced her to his old college friend, a bachelor who had a thriving business. We grew up not wanting for anything.
Problem is, I never saw any PDAs (public display of affection) between my mother and my stepfather. They even slept in separate rooms. On weekends my stepfather just played golf and stayed in his little place out of town. My mother’s life revolved around us kids.
She always brought us to new restaurants and watched shows or movies. One place she always went to was my basketball games. My teammates knew her well because she’d bring snacks all the time. Our coach even became a good friend of hers.
My brother and I now both have families of our own. My stepfather died a few months ago.
My mom recently told me a secret she said she held for a long time.
She said she had been having a relationship with my basketball coach for close to 20 years. Without him, she said, she might have committed suicide or lost her mind from misery. Her remarriage was a sham and she went along with it for us kids.
She discovered my stepfather was gay early on and maintained a lover. Nobody knew about it except the three of them, because they had reputations to protect.
I then realized how much she sacrificed to give us a comfortable life, all the while with nobody to confide in.
She thought I would berate or shun her for living a lie. But how could I have inflicted more pain on her when she’s borne enough for so long? I am grateful that she had someone who made her happy. I remember my coach as a kind and gentle person, and they are right for each other.—Blissful Ignorance
You and I surely wouldn’t judge her harshly—though there are those who won’t be as kind or as nonjudgmental.
It’s difficult to play God when our feet are made of clay. It is not for us to blame, pass judgment, and play jury when the story requires an open mind to understand human frailty. They are the silently trapped and hopeless—grasping at straws in their torment as in this affair, hoping to keep head above water.
Your mother saved her sanity by following her heart. She saved your stepfather, too, by staying with him and giving him a semblance of family, shielding him from cruel gossip and censorious minds, and allowing him to live the life he wished with the person he loved.
There were too many layers of complex lives that were lived in your narrative. Only an empathetic heart and mind could have had a clear perspective.