There's this couple. Nobody likes to visit them as he is an angry old bastard, pushing 90 and his emotional baggage could knock you sideways.
I'm a CFA* so I don't have any kind of history with them but his niece, who avoids him, filled me in. He calls me now and again and if I can spare the hour, I visit Denis.
Twenty years ago, he built this house, a truly lovely spot overlooking the bay, a long, long ranch of a log house, finished in polished wood inside, a house built for great parties with white leather sofas and a big roary fire and a dining room full of hand carved pieces. Except no one would ever come to those parties.
He's tried to sell the place for 4 years but he was so nasty to deal with purchasers ran.
He and his American wife retired here, his place of birth, from Boston where he had a successful construction business but, according to him, he was run out of Boston by the mafia, he had inadvertently married into a Mafioso family. According to him, as I said. And he was unwilling to pay them "commission" on his sales.
Within three months of coming home to live, he banished the wife and took up with his girlfriend of forty years before who moved into his house when the bed was still warm from the wife. He tells me that the wife (the mother of his children) was a b****.
In that way of karma, the new partner, Ellen, has been most unhappy for about 19-1/2 of those years but had sold up her own place in anticipation of the Great Romance and had nowhere to return to.
So there they are, the house was sold ("it was an insult, that price," he says to me) and he was selling all the contents and moving down to Boston to an apartment because "the b**** had poisoned all their children against him." And he needed to fix it. "Good luck with that, pal," I thought.
Ellen told me when he went off to the bathroom that in spite of the fact he thinks she's going to move to Boston with him, she's not. Her daughter is picking her up on the closing date of the house - a week from now - and she's riding off in the sunset with her. "This separation was a long time coming," she says.
Then apropos of nothing really, she fetches a box and out pours all these documents.
"21 birth certificates," she says to me, "Me and my sisters and brothers."
My only reaction to this kind of history, and I've seen so much of it here and in Ireland is: "Oh my gawd, your poor mother!"
She started to cry.
"21 children in 22 years," she said, tears pouring down her cheeks, "And dead from kidney failure after she delivered her last at the age of 46."
"What happened to you all?" and I'm crying too.
"Farmed out everywhere, the eldest was a new bride herself and raised 4 of us including me but our father took off for the Boston States and we never saw him again."
Women are and were such disposable grow-bags for the patriarchal RC church starting with the ban on contraception and proscribing alternative forms of sexual expression.
Around the many fires of my childhood I'd be unobtrusively tucked in a corner, and would overhear the women chat about sex and how awful it was (we'd call it rape today) but that "it was his right and the priest wouldn't like it if I refused."
What a truly grim business it was then. Not to mention the fear of another pregnancy.
Our foremothers were the unsung real heroes.
Labels: anger., catholic church, Newfoundland, outport stories