My father was in the Air Force when I was growing up and my mother, my siblings and I had the fortunate luck of being part of his family, that’s the way I saw it anyway. We lived in some great places growing up in the military, following my father everywhere. Not only was I born in England, I also lived in England when I was in my early teenage years and fond memories stay with me always. The house we lived in was fabulous: Sycamore House, Sycamore Road, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. I’ll never forget living in that beautiful home, in a beautiful town northwest of London. Along with fond memories at Sycamore House though, came sad memories too. Such as it is with anybody’s life. My life is no exception and so I will tell you about one of the sad days in my life at Sycamore House.
All six of our lives (Dad, Mom and the four of us kids) changed immensely in the four years we lived in Amersham. With four children, my mother, I am now positive had the biggest job of all. Even though my Dad worked and worked hard, he never had to deal with us kids like my Mom did. But my mother was such a great Mom. She did everything for us and more. Of course my mother’s other side of her life was her marriage to my Dad. Lurking behind Mom and Dad’s marriage though was a deep-rooted problem that would eventually sadden our happy life.
I remember going into my parent’s room one afternoon when we lived in Sycamore House in Amersham. I was about 13 at the time and my Dad was on TDY (temporary duty) for a couple of weeks so he wasn’t there. I wanted to talk to my Mom so I peeked in the bedroom and I saw that she was reading a book – one of her many pastimes. I had been concerned about a conversation I had overheard my parents having a few days before and decided to approach her about it.
I asked, “Mom, can we talk?” Mother took one look at me and must have realized it was pretty important, as she sat up and leaned back on the headboard. My serious look must have taken her out of her book escape pretty quickly. She said, “Okay, no problem honey. What do you need to talk about?” I was shaking and I really didn’t know why. Maybe it was what I was going to ask her so I just blurted it out instead of starting out slowly. “Do you think you and Dad will ever get a divorce?” The conversation I had overheard wasn’t as important to me as what the answer to this question might be.
That question was by far one of the bolder things I had ever said and my mother knew it. I was normally the type of child that said little to disturb the peace in the house and only wanted to keep people happy, smiling and things calm and most off all my Mom. This was a big step for me, to possibly shake up my view of the world, our world.
“Caroline sweetie, if your Dad and I ever get a divorce it would have nothing to do with you or Bonnie or Cathy or Matthew.” My heart fell, I knew what she meant. My mother was doing me a great favor although I didn’t realize it at the time. She was preparing me for the inevitable. She didn’t say, “No, of course not.” She didn’t say, “Why would you ask a thing like that Caroline?” and she didn’t say, “Don’t be silly.” She said the truth. My mother taught me a lot that day, about myself, about her and about her marriage to Dad. It’s hard to write into words what she taught but in a way I appreciated her honesty even though it was most likely hard for her to say to me.
I’m sure Mom and I talked more but I really don’t remember what else was said. I had already heard what I didn’t want to hear but I had asked and got the truth. I knew it was the truth. This was one of those days in my life I would never forget. It was an important day for me though and I grew up a little bit quicker than usual that day and little did I know at the time, it helped me accept the inevitable that happened a few years later.