The divorce had gone through. The three boys seemed to adjust to the new situation. The two eldest boys, Douglas and Tony, could cycle to the flat where their father had moved. As there was a major road to cross, the youngest boy, Jonty, could not go on his own, and the two big boys’ considered taking him was beneath their teenage dignity. However, his Dad came round to the house quite often. He had to as he brought his washing every week and collected whatever cooking his ex-felt like giving him.
Everything went well until Mom met a guy. It drew the battle lines. Why? Well, the chap was a trans individual.
Douglas was in his late teens and since the divorce had sought solace with an ultra-Christian youth group. Tony, a couple of years younger, was more interested in music and the band, he and his friends, had formed. Both boys disliked the unaccustomed man in their lives as he was a teacher at their school. According to their ideas, teachers had no right to come into their home, had no right to make friends with them. It was very “uncool.” It delighted their father to allow them to spend more time at his place, especially as he had moved into a fancy new apartment block, which boasted a swimming pool in the complex. Their grandmother was also of a fundamentalist Christian outlook. She fed them stories about how this guy was an abomination, a freak and was leading their Mother into sin. Jonty, though, spent more time with his Mother and got to know Terry. Also, the religious bigotry of his elder brothers did not include him.
Their father continued with his whispers on the evil about to befall their Mother until she announced she would marry Terry. Both the elder boys gave her an ultimatum, leave Terry, or they would move in with their Dad. She was distraught. Her beloved sons were torturing her. Douglas was planning to go to university in the New Year and Tony the following year. She knew they were nearly ready to leave the nest. Even if she gave in to their demands, it would not be long before she and Jonty would be on their own. She refused to give in to bullying. They, with their father’s tacit agreement, moved out. She was heartbroken. Was life worth living? Jonty comforted her, the only bright light in a bleak world.
After the wedding, the new family of Terry and his son, Ben and Jonty and his Mom moved to another state. She worked hard to make things work, but nothing eased the pain in her heart. Things went wrong almost immediately. As a trans man, Terry needed regular hormone injections. Unfortunately, the side effect was highs and lows of aggression. Which he mostly directed towards his wife. Jonty flew to his Mother’s defence.
This cycle reached a point where Terry could not bear the sight of Jonty. Even suggesting he and his son would go on holiday, she could come but under no circumstances could Jonty. That was the signal. She waved father and son off and within hours, a removals truck pulled up. She and Jonty moved into other accommodation. She had to work extra hours to earn enough to cover their expenses, but they were happy. Not once did Jonty moan about the difficulties they faced. Instead, he flourished, even bringing his friends to visit. Something he had never dared during Terry’s reign of terror.
Mother and son became involved in a variety of activities to help people in the local community. Jonty willingly helped his Mother out by teaching an adolescent who had acquired his injuries by breaking a window and entering a property to steal. Instead of reporting him, they assisted him in learning to read and write so he could go to college and get a job rather than embarking on a life of crime. One Valentine’s Day, she took him to the flower market to collect the roses he had organised for the guys at school to distribute to their sweethearts.
Mother and son happily went for a midnight picnic away from the city lights so they could observe the sky and see Halley’s comet. Another highlight was a truant day. She drove them for hours up into the mountains where it was snowing. They made coffee by collecting and boiling the snow. They played snowballs and built a snowman. After all the miseries resulting from the second marriage and the move away, she wanted to give him some unforgettable, happy memories to last their lifetimes. Their bond grew closer. Then at the end of his last year of school, he announced he wanted to go to the university near where his Dad lived.
They talked things over and decided as the area where she worked was dangerous, it would be better if she moved somewhere safer. With Jonty’s blessing, she moved back to her homeland. She was lonely there but not broken-hearted that bond never changed. Whenever they got together, either he visiting her or she went back to visit him, they picked up where they had left off.
Later he met a girl. For his wedding, his Mom had to be there. Had to be with them for that important step in his life. His wife accepted the older woman in their lives. More often than not unseen. When their children came along once again, Mum had to be there. Mother and son understood distance might physically separate them, but that bond was as strong as ever. After she left Terry, the other boys made contact and visited, but the ties were not as strong as that with their younger brother.
She smiled when, on one of her visits, she heard Jonty telling his daughter all about the time he had seen Halley’s comet. It was still clear in his memory after all the years. She understood the importance of memories to strengthen a bond. She reminded him of the snow incident. “Ah, Mum, every time we go past that place, Windy Corner, I drive down the track to where we stopped all those years ago. I show the kids where we went that day and tell them about the fun we had there.”
She was happy to think a special bond would grow now between him and his children. There had been catastrophic days, but they had both survived and could look back without regrets.
(c) Felicity Edwards