“Amy, you go outside and wait for me. I won’t be long.” I looked at Mom in disbelief, but she persisted. “Go on.”
“Ah, Mom, let’s gooooo…” Mom gave me The Glare. In turn I glared at The Woman. The Woman had said something about my Dad. Mom spoke over her so I didn’t quite hear everything, but I knew it was not good. My mother was not happy.
I opened the door to the trailer and stepped down onto the grassy yard, slamming the door harder than necessary. I did not like that woman. I did not like Mom being in that trailer with her.
I decided to stay by the door. I wanted to hear what was being said. My seven years in life taught me that my mother was the most important person on the planet.
Fortunately, I could hear it all. The Woman was dumb enough to think I’d be out of earshot. “I mean it. I am in love with your husband…and we ARE going to be together.”
“Keep your voice down, Edna…and you listen to me. You may be attracted to my husband, but you do not know him.”
“Of course I know him. He wants to be with me. You ask him. You’ll see.” Her voice was louder.
I panicked. I could not imagine my father living with anyone else. When he finished working on these jobs, he’s home with us. What was she talking about?
Mom spoke in a strong, steady, but barely audible voice, “Edna, if you think my husband would EVER leave his family, that proves you do not know him.”
“You’ll see! You’ll see! He loves me! I love him! You’ll see.”
The door opened. Mom caught me standing beside the steps, staring in disbelief.
“Come on, darling. Let’s go to Dad’s trailer. We don’t want to be here any more.” I had to walk fast to keep up with her.
“Mom, what is that woman talking about? Is Dad really going to live in that trailer? With HER?”
Love was a word I’d only heard at church and Sunday School. It wasn’t a part of every family farewell or the preamble to a confession. No one, as far as I knew, loved other people’s husbands.
Mom stopped and knelt down, “I’m sorry you had to hear that, Amy. Don’t worry. I’ll talk to Dad. That woman is very confused and it needs to be straightened out. That’s all. She’s got things mixed up.”
“I don’t like her, Mom.”
She took my hand. We continued towards Dad’s trailer. I was overjoyed to see his truck pulling onto the narrow driveway that would bring him to his parking spot. I ran to meet him. As he stepped out of the truck, I flew into his arms and sobbed, “Dad, do you like coming home?”
He hugged me and said, “What’s this? Coming home? Of course! Sometimes it feels like the longest drive in the world to get home.” When he put me down, my world was back together.
Then he looked at Mom, “Where have you two been?”
“At Edna’s”, she said.
“Oh… ” Mom nodded, starring hard at him. He continued, “Well… Let’s go in and see if we can find some supper in our home.”
I never saw Edna again during the remainder of our stay at the camp. Near the end of summer, as Mom and I were preparing to return home, the project came to an end. Dad hooked up the trailer to his truck and followed us home. I rode with Dad whenever possible – just in case.
Over the years, I meant to talk to Mom about the Edna incident, but it always slipped my mind. However, one time when mother was away, my 85 year-old-father and I were enjoying a visit alone. Edna popped into mind and I popped the question, “Dad, do you remember that Edna who had a trailer at the Camp when you were working at Viking?”
“Edna?” My dad had a great memory. His short term memory was slipping slightly, but he could remember the color of a bird’s eye on a hunting trip in 1942. On a Tuesday!
“Yah…if I remember correctly, she was the bookkeeper on that job.”
“Did you have a little fling with her?”
“A fling? What on earth makes you ask that?”
I told him my version of the story. He said, “She was a sad sort of woman. Pretty lonely. A couple of times when a bunch of us would go into town for food supplies, we’d also head over to the beer parlour. I’d leave after a few drinks when all the young bucks looked like they wanted to do some hell raisin’. Edna would usually ask for a ride back to camp.”
He reached for a cigarette. “She liked her alcohol and a couple of times I had to tell her to stay on her side of the truck. But I certainly didn’t have a fling with her.”
“Did she tell you she loved you?”
“Ah! She didn’t know one heart throb from another!” His sense of humour had kicked in.
“Well, she sure wanted Mom to know that she loved you.”
“Yah, I was sorry that your mother had to go through that nonsense.”
“Even as a kid, I was so proud of Mom. She really kept her cool. She was so confident about you being a family man – her man.”
“How could anyone ever be better than your mother? I wouldn’t trade her… even for 10 new trucks!” We laughed ourselves into watery eyes.
I wasn’t convinced, however. The attractive and well-groomed Edna left me with an ember of suspicion that where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Not long after my discussion with Dad, a “church woman” stoically and surprisingly confided that her dashing, popular, out-going, and big-hearted husband was involved with an Edna. I told her this story and described mother’s confidence and trust in my father’s loyalty and love.
She stood up from our lunch table and said, “Thank you! You have no idea what you have just given me.”
It’s true. I do have no idea. However, that same dashing husband of hers accidentally died not long after our lunch. I was helping at the local Parish Office and was responsible for organizing his funeral.
As people streamed in, the ushers dutifully guided people to the appropriate pews. When the new widow arrived, she whispered something to an usher.
When all were seated, I looked across the overflow of attendees and saw the widowed woman’s “Edna” sitting towards the back of the extending flow of people. The usher went to her and whispered something. Then he escorted her to a seat beside the widow.
Could I have that much compassion for a woman who loved my husband? I believe not. The Edna experience had cast its die for me.