Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?

August 09, 2003 - 11:47 p.m.


A friend asked me an important question recently. She said "Do you tend to have a leaning toward wanting things you can't have? You know, a fascination for those." Well thatís a tough question, and itís one Iíve been asking myself lately. Thereís a pattern developing in my life and that seems to be the theme of it.

Newt has this uncanny ability to call me at just the right time. That happened this morning while I was in the process of writing. She also has the ability to ask me tough questions, to make me think. She knows me better than anyone else in this world because weíve spent a lifetime together. She asked me the same question.

Iíve been struggling lately, with fundamental concepts that have driven my life to this point. Iím not very happy with the way my life has turned out. Sure some things are going well, but other things are going very badly. I struggle with these things and my effort has been to try to find the root of this problem, what makes me act this way?

Newt was able to help me in this process this morning. The revelation I made was my idea but she led me up to it. In order to explain it, Iím going to have to tell you a long story. Gather round, kids.

When I was four years old, Tommy S. moved into the house next door. He was a year younger than me and he had a younger brother named John. Tom and I became best friends. He was my very first best friend.

My family moved from the ancestral home years before I was born. I didnít have any aunts or uncles or cousins living around me, it was just me and my family, in that 50ís neighborhood in Ohio. Tomís family and my family, that was about all I had. But it was good. Tommy and I spent many happy days playing together, we got along great. I grew close to Tom and his family. His mom was exceptional. She was smart and pretty and a musician, she played the piano. They moved a baby grand into the living room and I used to sit where she couldnít see me, and listen to her music. She was the first adult woman in my life, besides my own mother.

Tommyís mom contracted breast cancer when he was about six; shortly after the piano arrived. This was the early sixties and the sophisticated methods they use to diagnose and treat it didnít exist back then. It was more like meatball surgery. I canít imagine what was going on in Gerryís mind those days, knowing she was dying and about to leave her young family behind. But it surely changed her; I could see the change even as a seven year old.

It took her quickly. They already had both breasts and a lot of lymph nodes, it was unstoppable. I think she died in the spring, I donít really remember. I remember the day she died though, Tomís fatherís dad told me to ďrun across the street and tell your mom that Tomís mother died.Ē I did as I was told, and watched my mother collapse.

There was a funeral of course, and afterwards I saw their garage filled with flowers from the event. What do you really do with all that stuff?

I didnít see much of Tom that summer. He was swept up by family; he spent that summer at his paternal grandparentís home in Indiana. I missed him terribly because he was my only real friend. But what I missed more escaped me at such a young age. Iím just now coming to grips with what that was.

Tom had his family to help him though this loss. Iíll never really know what he was left with. I was just the neighbor kid; no one really measured the effect it had on me. It had a profound effect on me and it manifested itself in a different way. The first effect was a fear of loss. This was my first experience with Death. No one talked to me about it; no one asked me what I was feeling. I guess they didnít expect it to have such a huge impact on me, because it wasnít my mother that died. As far as counseling or talking about what I was feeling? That never happened. In my family you just ďget over it.Ē

I was filled with fear that my own mother would die. I never verbalized it but it manifested itself just the same. I never let her out of my sight. I stopped riding the bus to school. I started riding my bike the five miles or so to get there. That way I could go home for lunch to make sure she was still there. Even in winter I pedaled home every day and had lunch with her. All through grade school I made the trip home.

One time I rode home and she wasnít there. She was gone, no noteÖ nothing. I panicked. Where was she? I was out of control. The radio was off, no lunch preparation, nothing. I didnít know what to do. As it turned out, my sister had gotten something in her eye under her contact lens and mom had rushed her to the eye doctor to make it right. I didnít know this, all I knew was the fear Iíd sublimated had come true. Oh my God, my mom is gone.

From that day on, I could not stand to be left alone. I had to have someone around. I was of the age where kids can be left alone, I was nearly ten. But I couldnít do it; Iíd get panicky and cry my eyes out. It was during that time that my parents drove to Wisconsin to visit the relatives, and I was devastated. I was out of control the whole time they were gone. I was close to tears the whole time. It was my mother that I missed the most, I thought sure that she was not going to come back.

I got older though, and I overcame this fear. Maybe ďovercomeĒ is not the right word. I stuffed it away in another place because this kind of behavior was not appropriate for kids my age. Eleven year old boys should not act like theyíre three where their mother is concerned. I saw my friends acting their age and I decided to do the same.

I never made the connection between this behavior and Gerryís death until many years later. It was one of those ďah-ha!Ē moments you have, I was 20 years old at the time. Now it all made sense, the irrational behavior all made sense. But I hadnít uncovered the rest of it. Iím starting to do that now.

I think it has something to do with wanting women I canít have. As I talked with Newt on the phone today I recounted the women I fell in love with, the unattainable ones. They were the most significant ones. We wound back the timeline, she wanted to know where all of this started. It must have begun at a very early age, she reasoned. Then it struck me. I lost a very significant person in my life when Tommyís mom died. I never worked though those feelings. Itís too much to ask of a kid to resolve those feelings, but what about when we grow older?

I have to examine the effect this had on me because I think that loss still affects me. It just occurred to me today, so I havenít quite assimilated it yet. But I think thereís a correlation between her leaving me and the way I deal with women as an adult.

Wish me luck, and wisdom.

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