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Thursday, July 06, 2006

 

Mr. C.

Combine a few days off of work and also off of my usual, predictable routine; add some sad news, and my mind just goes funny. Today I am melancholy. And wistful. And I got stung by a bee on my inner left thigh while I was running. But it feels like it was my heart that got stung. It feels sore and swollen.

There once was a girl in her early twenties. She was sweet and mildly annoying with all of her loud talking about her opinions and idealism. She was laughably naïve. I suppose these are typical traits of people that age. She was also in love. She was hopeful and thoughtful, and painfully unsophisticated at times. She possessed the young confidence that only a person green enough to believe the world is fair and kind can have. Sometimes she tried a little too hard. She threw her entire being into this person and this relationship. She was so in love that she invested herself not only in this boy, but in this boy’s entire large family. He was the youngest son if a big Irish & French Catholic family. They were all tall, and full of life with all their height and long distinguished noses and masses of wavy dark hair. There were three older brothers and two older sisters all together. They were all married. The eldest brother was warm and loving and so open with his love, that it was mainly touching, but sometimes a tad bit uncomfortable. The next two brothers were smart, and full of swaggering attitude. The sisters were lovely and intelligent and goofy. The girl (the annoying twenty-something one)was tall and awkward and made fast, clumsy movements, and she felt downright diminutive among all the tall, dark haired Irish-French brothers and sisters.

She loved every member of this big, Catholic family. Especially the boy’s father, Mr. C. Mr. C was a big barrel-chested, handsome Irish man with broad rosy cheeks and a full head of gray waves that rendered him altogether dashing, even at his age. He had been in World War II. When he returned from the war, he met his wife at the Catholic University they both attended. He was older than the rest of the students due to his tour in the war, and when he came back, the buzz was that he was quite a catch for some lucky lady. That lucky lady was Mrs. C, who was tall and slender, and delicate and French. She was lovely and well-mannered and sophisticated, despite her small-town roots. They fell in love, married and had a family.

Mrs. C. had a dignified air about her. She was French. She was prone to making comments affectionately referred to as “zingers”. A zinger was an off-hand comment that was meant to be cutting, but her zingers were often so subtle, that an inattentive victim might not even know they were being criticized. Mr. C was happily oblivious to many of his wife’s zingers. Mr. C. loved a good steak dinner and a nice scotch, or three. Mr. C. was jovial, and always had a twinkle in his eye. He always made her feel a part of the family, and the girl (his youngest son’s girlfriend, the mildly annoying twenty-something) loved him from about the moment she first met him. There were many dinners and parties and trips to the cabin. There were passionate conversations with a lot of frantic hand movements, over many beers. She felt like a part of their family.

Mrs. C., the lovely French lady who threw a mean zinger, began to lose her battle with cancer. She died in June of 1995. After she died, Mr. C was inconsolable for a good while. For a long time, he smelled of stale grief and whiskey. He was badly shaken once by a neighbor who had seen a strange woman wandering the neighborhood, because he had been convinced it was the ghost of Mrs. C. The Irish have vivid fantasies tucked away in their imaginations. This made the girl adore Mr. C even more.

The fairy tale with the boy began to lose a little of its fairy dust. The girl made some crucial errors that cost her dearly. She had become so engrossed in another person, and another person’s family, that she lost her own footing. She forgot who she was, who she had been, and where she came from. She forgot that she had her own story. Or maybe it was not so much that she forgot, but more that she didn't think her story was worth much of anything. She hadn’t realized that she should never ever forget that she had her own story.

The relationship finally, officially ended, much in the manner of a small fuzzy kitten being run over by a bus. One could say that it was due to some bad behavior on the part of the boy. One could also say that it was due to the girl losing all sense of who she was, and who she had been. One could say the ending was inevitable just because it was young love, and young love is not meant to last.

When the ground began to crumble, it literally fell out from under her, and she was lost for a very, very long time. When she said goodbye to the boy, she had to say goodbye to all the handsome, tall, long-nosed, dark haired Irish-French brothers and sisters. She had already said goodbye to Mrs. C. and perhaps worst of all, she had to say goodbye to Mr. C., her barrel chested rosy cheeked, silver haired pal. This was possibly the most painful thing about ending the relationship. She was very sad for a long time.

The girl, now a bit older and wiser, sometimes misses that annoying naïve twenty-something girl who was so eager to please. She was fearless enough to leap wholeheartedly into another world altogether. It seems that small fuzzy kitten got replaced with a cranky old alley cat when it was squashed like a bug on the highway. Things are definitely different now. She is more suspicious of ulterior motives and is hesitant to let her guard down. She has seen the dark side, and it changed her. She wishes she still had some of that fearless, brave naiveté in her. She thinks it might be bouncing around in there somewhere. Because of this, she is thinking about getting another kitten. This time she will be sure to keep it out of harms way.

She misses Mr. C. to this very day, and she wonders if he knows how much she adores him, or how she still carries a little of him in her heart, and always will.

She just found out Mr. C is facing his own battle with cancer, and that it looks like it may get the better of him. And this makes her very sad. The alleycat in her wants to put all of the memories back in the box they came from, and tuck it back up in the attic. But the kitten part of her wants to look through the memories for a little while and just feel the melancholy.

She also realizes with no small degree of irony, that at some point all of this did in fact, become her own story.

Good luck Mr. C. You are in my thoughts, you sweet silver-haired, rosy cheeked, barrel-chested Irishman.

11 Comments:

Blogger Denise said...

We grow older, sometimes we learn some things about ourselves and others, but that kitten always feels the hurt when someone we love suffers. Thank goodness for the kitten, because that means if we can hurt, we can love.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

1. holy shit, I move and you get a fancy new blog design.

2. I LOVED the kitten and alleycat metaphor. I recently reconnected with a boy that I loved so much I was willing to give up everything to be with him. I was willing to have a baby at 20 and quit school. He was the bus that ran over my kitten. Terrance was the one to fall in love with the alleycat. But when the kitten re-emerged...well, It was nice to see her. I realize I missed her a little and that she did have something - something innocent and not so damn cyncial. She wanted to have fun.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to let the alleycat play a little more.

I heart you M - and I am so sitting and dishing with you at Blogher

3:26 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Meghan, that post was amazing. I LOVED IT. Holy crap, can you write.

Love the new design (especially you in the banner). Cringing at the bee sting. Thinking of Mr. C (who sounds like someone I'd really like). And counting the days 'til I meet you at BlogHer.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Kari said...

Sob. Well written.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I'll keep good thoughts for Mr. C, and for you, too, M.

12:10 AM  
Blogger dianne_lone said...

I also like the kitten and alleycat metaphor. I fell in love with someone who I thought would make me happy. But instead, everyday with him was the worst. I gave up my family and my career just for him and he treated me like a slave..

2:00 AM  
Blogger Lin said...

Now that was beautifully written. It will encourage all readers to remember the younger choices made and the feeling of loss that accompanies a split, even when it was for all the right reasons.

Would it be too difficult for you to drop Mr. C a line or pop in to visit him? I know that sometimes things are worth leaving as they lay, but your love for this man was pretty profound. Even if he is beyond appreciating it, his family would appreciate your memory of their Pa, I'm sure.

I, too, look forward to meeting you at Blogher, Meghan. Nice new design on your blog site!

9:30 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Delurking to say 'Lovely Post'.
Perhaps you should send Mr C and his family a handwritten note letting him know that you're thinking of him.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Mary Tsao said...

I had a Mr. C once. Sometimes the hardest part about breaking up with someone is the idea that you never again will see their family. It's sad.

I'm sure he still thinks about you. How could he forget you? You're wonderful!

10:26 PM  
Anonymous roo said...

That was a beautiful story. Thank you.

2:15 PM  
Blogger DDM said...

I love the way you write. I'm sorry for Mr. C, and for the girl whose mind he rests heavily upon.

2:20 PM  

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