The other connection with my father’s mysterious past were letters I discovered while cleaning out my mother’s house after her move to an assisted- living apartment.
There were beautiful letters meticulously typed on light-blue paper that expressed shock and dismay, but with great wit and affection, about my father’s sudden wedding.
The correspondent was a former male lover, who, at that time, was taking courses at Columbia University and living in Greenwich Village.
The depths of my father’s secret life were unfathomable. Layers upon layers upon layers.
And my mother’s…the mysterious calling cards from South American men…her frequent references to the Salvation Army, where she had to spend a few Christmases alone because her tyrannical, controlling father, the prominent, respected surgeon, wanted her to be the dutiful daughter and stay home and take care of her aging parents.
Dutiful was a word not to be included in Nancy’s vocabulary.
She rebelled and fled from her small Pennsylvania town to New York City. She was too manic-depressive to hold a job for more than a few weeks; I am fairly certain that she also learned to depend on and survived because of…the kindness of strangers (that would be Men).
It would explain much of her Rage. Very similar to mine, actually, but for some inexplicable reason, I was always able to repress/suppress my Rage and channel it into productive activity—especially after I stopped drinking.
(My mother never stopped drinking.)
And what about all the notes and business cards from the South American romeos who pursued my very pretty mother [after her divorce from the Greenwich, Connecticut, banker] when she was ensconced on an Argentine ranch with her married former college roommate ?
Who were these people?
My parents? !
What incalculable strangers!