I’m Going To Take Your Husband.

“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?”

Mom and Dad - 10 Years After This Incident.

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!

I waited.

“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.

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78 thoughts on “I’m Going To Take Your Husband.

  1. Amy, I can’t tell you how much this story means to me. I have my own personal childhood story…I’ve tried to write it and am wondering if it should really be written…if I can bring myself to finish it I still wonder if it should ever be read…

    • Oh,SuziCate, that’s a tough one. As life hands us various challenges, the nature of the challenge will most likely not be new. It’s a familiar theme in a different package. But it’s how it’s handled. The woman from church may have mimicked mom to some degree, but something about the story opened her heart to an act far greater than most of us could do.

  2. Wow. That could be a screenplay or something. Amazing stuff going on there. Edna #2… You know, if someone really LOVES the same person whom you love, why wouldn’t your love extend to that person as well. What greater common ground could you have? Although, emotionally it would be difficult and you might not be bosom buddies, but love should be all encompasing and open armed, right? Edna #1, if your dad’s story is to be believed (and why not?) she is a pitiful specimen.
    BTW: I’m using the metaphorical “you” here…not YOU, Amy…I should reword it, but I’ve gotta run out the door real soon.

    Great post. Thoughtful, well written, and provocative.

    • I believe that’s exactly where the church woman’s heart went…”If you truly love my husband, we share a grief.”

      This couple never had children together and the widow has no family on her side. I’m certain she would have shared the grief differently if she had children or family around her.

      I respected how Dad, even in old age, either was not going to disturb his daughter’s respect for his integrity or was able to resist temptation when it was served on a platter. Either way, it remained his business and I could carry on loving him as much as usual.

  3. What a story. No matter what, your dad’s bond to your mom was unbreakable. There will always be Ednas. It’s our reaction to them that matters.

    • People have been handling this threatening situation from the beginning of time. I can’t see that it gets any easier. The pain is there inevitably so the braver, the better if it maintains our dignity and self-respect.

  4. You described the hardest type of love to offer another, one that forgives and understands that all people need comforting for pain and sorrow, even if we don’t love– and actually dislke — the things they might have done . . .

    What a great story. Right from the heart to the heart of so many others.

    Thanks, Amy.

    I love you, but you but you don’t have to leave home to be my spouse.

    • Michael J, you make me laugh. Are you being creative? You want me to be your E-Wife? We can make history! This would probably work for me because of the way I cook and eat – 95% vegetarian, raw veggies(depending upon weather), 80% non-gluten, 90% non-processed.

      Let’s send each other an engagement ring and enjoy a long engagement! :D

    • True, Mags. The incident gave me great compassion for children who have to go through a marriage split. I doubt that it’s any less painful with age – probably just different reasons.

  5. I’m surprised that your father’s words didn’t convince you.

    I’ve met an “Edna” or two in my life . . . they are often delusional. I could easily see one misinterpreting your dad’s kindness in providing a ride back to camp as something far more.

    Your dad’s comments and your mom’s initial reaction seem to mesh perfectly . . . Edna’s romance with your dad was all in her head.

    If Edna’d really been certain of your dad’s affection, I’m sure she would have kept her mouth shut.

    • Hey, Nancy…I love how you have come to my Dad’s defense. By gad, he would have hired you as his lawyer in a heartbeat! :D

      Your last sentence really gives me pause… I hadn’t thought of that!

  6. Beautifully written childhood memory Amy. I’ve come across several of those women over the years and thanks to you I now have a new word for my vocab = Edna. Love it!

    This is the first marriage proposal I’ve see on a blog comment. Interesting what kind of emotions Edna’s manage to stir up, even in a blog.

    We eat a similar diet to you. Steamed farmer’s market greens – lots of kale – rice/pasta and small portion of protein.

    • Do you think Michael J. and I are the first? Hope so!

      I want to eat more Kale, but have only begun to gather some good ideas for using it in dishes. Love it in smoothies, but in winter, I tend to go towards soups and stews. I love Quinoa for a bit of protein.

      If you have a delish idea for adding Kale to a dish, please let me know Rosie?

      Glad you survived your birthday, Rosie! Bwwwwaaaah!

  7. Ahhh, Amy, this hits too close to home as a child and as a wife … only wish my mom had been as even-tempered as yours … it is a hard atmosphere for children. Thank you for sharing in such a compassionate manner.

    • Once a trust is broken, it must be very hard to every have faith in that human being again. Women have said they have forgiven, but cannot forget. For them, at least one antenna stays alert no matter how much time goes by. Other people seem to be able to accept infidelity, or threats of it, as part of life.

  8. the title caught me immediately Amy. We all have our own stories and I have mine as well. My step mother told me that when my mom left my dad she told my mom “don’t both coming back cause he’s going to be mine”. She was right but in my heart I believe/know that my mom and my dad loved each other to the day they died. Why my mom left to return to Scotland with me I don’t know but it wasn’t because she didn’t love my dad.

    • I remember being amazed that an adult would be so confused to think she could have my father. That was scary. Adults up to that time were quite predictable. It was an introduction to one who could be dangerous.

  9. Your mother was a courageous woman, and so were you, carrying this around all these years. I also admire you for finding the core of the mystery after so many years. Thanks for the riveting story. Would that I could dig that deeply in my heart and give forgiveness so openly.

    • It seems, Barb, that growing up in a rural area, kids were privy to more of life’s events. They weren’t on TV; these were real live people. Mother encouraged discussion so we didn’t live with elephants in the living room. (I still have a tough respecting other people’s elephants!) Whatever response she gave me re these tales of human nature, I found them reassuringly acceptable. Being a teacher, she was probably very adept at knowing what my ears and heart could handle. Plus I knew I could always ask about them if they cropped up again.

      When I studied psychology, I remember learning that children of older parents grow up with an advantage. Older parents are generally predictable. As a kid, I could anticipate where they were at any given time on any given day. That offers incredible stability. Mom and Dad were 38 and 40 when I was born. I always knew where my parents were or, if dad was away at work, where my mom was. At the time, I just thought they were boring! :D

  10. I have been so blessed with knowing these 2 people – and you of course – every time you tell a story about about them.

    My wonderful grandparents – I am just about brought tears as I loved them so much. They have made me who I am today. Without my grandmother – I don’t know where I would be today. She told me if I was not a manager by 33 I would never be a manager. Guess what – I was a manager at 33. My grandfather also gave me a lot of stuff about the world. We built cars and model cars. He showed me stuff that I don’t think he showed the other grandkids because he knew that I was really interested. I remember at their place when he and I were fixing the weed-eater. I was able to show him how it worked.

    This page is not big enough to say all the beautiful things about my grandmother. She is the nearest and dearest thing to my heart. She will be forever be close to me. This women was so far ahead of her time!!! She once told me that if you wanted to go into business for yourself go into leisure (everyone wants a holiday). You would have income you would not know what to do with. She was correct. Everyone loves their vacation time.

    These two people are the basis of my life. I love them with all my heart. That will never change.

    My grandfather may not have shown love to grandma in a typical fashion, but we saw them hip check each other when they crossed each other’s paths. He told me those meant “I love you”.

    Amy, I love you and don’t ever change.

    • Hi Wendy, I’ve always appreciated your stories about the time you stayed with Grandma and Grandpa…you had some terrific quality time with them. In his very quiet way, Dad would have been thrilled to have a granddaughter who could show him how to fix something (i.e. the weed eater)! Some of my special times with Dad was just keeping him company when he was working on something. Well…generally it was, “Pass me that wrench” or “Go and get the…”

      I’m really grateful you had the time and the interest to truly BE with Grandma. As you and I both know, every kid in the family has a different point of view and varying memories of parents. But you and I share parallel experiences with this woman we could have called, “Google Grandma”! :D

  11. That was fabulous Amy. So good for you to write it as part of your own cleansing. I could feel the child’s angst and the revelation later on. It’s a beautiful story.

  12. Good stuff. I want more. I kept thinking, “That sure is a lot to take in at seven years old.” Kids have little crosses to bear too. So unfair. Edna needed a good whacking but I suppose she really wasn’t worth touching.

  13. I’m agitated with either your web log or mine–whichever had now successfully prevented me from publishing comments…..twice.

    RAWR.
    But–reading and not noting other people having issues with it. *sigh* Must be just me.
    RAWR again.

    For a child of 7–you muddled through that quite well. And as an adult you were able to ask the questions and still keep moving. Both are pretty impressive. But I’m not surprised–you’re a pretty impressive kinda gal.

    • No, Mel…no one else has mentioned problems writing comments. I have to give thanks my parents for the security they instilled in me. They were both steadfast and steady in my experience. It was only in my adult years that I acquired a touch of skepticism. :)

      I must get to your blog and see how your sister is doing. <3

  14. What started as such a common fate for many a relationship, was turn beautifully around. You mother did extremely well back then to stay calm. Trust is a walk on tightrope, it doesn’t take much to slip, even just a minor mistake will do. The ending of your story is quite amazing, though, how the whole story came back to you and made you think. The widowed woman had quite a heart.

    • Otto – thank you for this great comment! Trust IS a walk on a tightrope – so well said. Re: the widow…if it had been general knowledge about her husband, I would have considered there may be some spiritual arrogance. But people didn’t know. I think parishioners simply thought the woman was a friend, seated by the widow for comfort and companionship. Because the widow had no family, it didn’t seem strange or out of place. So, yes, I concur…she does have quite a heart.

  15. Betrayal of any kind is just unforgettable. I’ve had my share, both as a child as well as an adult. Thankfully there haven’t been any for years.

    It’s easy to hypothesize about what we would do in certain situations. But until we are faced with our own, we cannot know the reserves of strength from which we draw.

    Blessings to you.
    Great post.

  16. Amy, the more you write about your mother the more I wish I could have known her…she is a truly inspirational woman…this level of confidence grounded in basic values of love and trust is something we can all learn from…as also the lesson and action she inspired in the ‘church woman’…This level of empathy and being able to overlook and embrace life’s curved balls is huge…the sign of a true heart…

    Thank you for this beautiful personal story…
    God bless you…

    • Shama, if my mother had had the opportunity to spend time with you, she may have put a lock on the door to prevent any interruption! :D She loved depth and breadth. She loved people of other cultures. You would have fed her soul.

  17. There’s an ‘|Edna’ in my parent’s relationship, too. Sad. I remember the terrifying conversation that revolved around who would go live with my father and who would stay with my mother. with eight kids, we would have had to be split up. Thankfully, they were able to work through things and the split never happened. I am so sorry you had to go through that fear as a child. I can’t imagine it was any less painful as an adult, though easier to talk to your father when you did. I doubt I’d be as accepting as the woman who welcomed her husband’s Edna to sit beside her.

    • I am so sorry you had go through such a discussion, Kathy. I don’t feel my experience was anywhere near the threat that you experienced. My concern was only minutes long with a huge reassurance that the “Edna” was just confused.

      Mom and Dad’s relationship was predicated on Dad being away a lot. (You probably drive on many of the roads he built.) When they retired, they had a real challenge learning to be together 24/7. Both were used to lots of time on their own, making their own decisions and not having to worry about another’s time schedule. So at times, each would complain to me about the other. I used to say, “Watch what you’re saying! You’re talking about my (Mom) (Dad).”

      I asked Dad about “Edna” after we’d had a conversation about how much he respected and admired Mom. He loved her spunk…except when she used it on him!:D

      • You know, you are very lucky that you were able to have such open, frank conversations with both your parents. It is not something that I could ever hope to do with mine. I have found over the years that when it comes to their relationship, and to their relationship with us, their children, it’s best to just put blinders on. I love them both, but they are probably the most difficult people I’ve ever known. That said, life carries on and I’ve made choices and decisions based on the sort of non-relationship I have with my parents that, I hope, have created a stronger one with my husband and my son.
        Did that last bit make any sense? LOL!
        Have a great weekend.

        • Kath, I realize how lucky I was to experience the life I had with these parents. My friends also loved spending time with my mom. She listened and was genuinely interested in all of us. She asked questions that let you know you were heard at a very deep level. No matter the problem my friends discussed with mother, they left feeling empowered and renewed. (We certainly never used those words in those days, but that is what she did.)

          I saw how other families communicated – or didn’t. Even though I went through the teen years wishing I had a young mom, a rich mom, a gorgeous mom – I knew I had one huge soul of a mom. Dad was a grass roots parent. Mom was intelligence and soul. Both were wise, but in different ways.

          We never had any extra money, never took a family vacation, and I started working at 13 (folks thought I was 16 – I looked it and they never asked!) – but I was always encouraged and told I could do or be anything.

          When I discovered how tough life was for some friends at home, I was amazed. Like you, a few of them took the attitude that they were being shown how NOT TO BE. There’s great value in that! We sure know when we bump into something that we don’t want. The thing that can be a challenge is to not get into perfectionism – never feeling good enough or perfect enough. People can know what doesn’t work, but go too far trying to set their measurement for what’s acceptable.

          When I get critical with people in my relationships, I have to remember I’m unhappy with myself. When I can turn that into looking at their virtues, I know I’m on the love path. In my mentoring activities, I remind myself that these women are adults. As long as they can name the things that get them into trouble, I just have to remind them of their virtues.

          Kathy, trust that your experience, insights and determination gave you the impetus to be the best mom and wife you could be. Because of the work you chose and the fact that you are fulfilling a leadership role in your Union tells me you have to be a person of caring and other-conscious demeanor. Being a good listener goes a million miles toward good relationships. Listening brings out the best in us when it’s time for us to respond.

  18. A beautiful, thoughtful post.This story touched a raw nerve, Souldipper. I happened to meet an ‘Edna’ some time back, and it was disconcerting, to say the least. I don’t think I can ever be anywhere close to being as gracious and understanding towards her as the lady you talked about, if at all we meet again.

    • I’m so sorry you had to experience an “Edna”. She appears in every age, stage and culture! The hormones are no respecter of creed or religion.

      In the Conversations With God series, I remember the supposed response from God about our loved one being loved by another person. God’s response (pardon my paraphrasing) was that we need to recognize that someone we love would surely be loved by others as well. However, with further questioning, God agreed that one who loves deeply would not want to leave the marriage bed – in spite of strong attractions.

      It just simply hurts, Scibblehappy! I suspect the widow, with no family, felt a sorrow bond with her Edna.

      Just visited your wonderful blog and enjoyed the few posts that I read. Thank you so much for coming by. I look forward to visiting you more often.

  19. You are simply fantastic, of mind, heart and craft. I gobbled every word of this, its nuance and insight urging me on to the next line. There is enough here for a book, for a film, for all the stories that have slips and shadows, more than one person to hold.

  20. I am stopping by from Write on Edge. What a fabulous find you are Amy! I can’t put into words what this post means to me. So many questions surfaced in my head. So many instant reactions that I know to be true about myself — I could not be that compassionate to a woman that injected herself into my marriage.

    This was so beautifully written. I am glad I stopped by!

    • Hi Sammie Love, I’m so glad you came by. Thanks for leaving such an expressive comment. It’s interesting…I visited and read your post, too, but I didn’t leave a comment. The reason was that I am too full of “loss” right now. I couldn’t get past “I’m sorry” which seemed so insipid. I know it’s not… I’m going back to say it. See ya in a minute! :D

      • Hi Amy,

        Sorry is enough! It’s all we can really say during times like these. In my heart it is all that my ears, head and heart can process right now. My twenty-one year old baby is gone now and so is my friend Susan, both of them stolen by cancer in one week. I am raw with emotion but have the clarity to know that they are pain-free and in a much better place. Thank you again Amy and my heart grieves with yours as well.

        Sammie

  21. Hi Amy,
    I loved this story as tough as it was for to tell, I’m sure. The picture of them ten years later was an amazing example of your mother’s strength and faith in your father. I’m glad you remembered the opportunity to air it out with him and put it all to rest. Don’t think I could have done what that widow did. Great post!

    • I believe, Gina, that it was not so difficult because I was raised with encouragement to express myself. I knew if I had a question or concern, I could discuss it with either my Mom or Dad. I did not have to worry about being chastised or made to feel stupid for asking. If Dad HAD spent time with Edna and chose not to disclose it to me…well…that was his right as a father. After all, what purpose would it serve? I wasn’t asking for any reason other than curiosity. He knew that.

  22. I should add that I am also stopping by from Write on Edge and this was so wonderfully written it just makes my attempt at humor seem empty and silly. But then it was that kind of week.

    Anyway, the pacing and vitality of the story is what gets me. I can see the mother in my head, and how she carries herself, and so forth. Really well done, just knocked me out.

    • I’ve just been at Curvy Girl…love the new name for the 14th – Single Awareness Day! Thanks for being willing to come back with the humour on the shelf. However, it’s such a gift I know you won’t keep it in storage for long!

      Thanks for your visit and both comments, Pish Posh. Bet your students love you!

  23. Wow. No. I wouldn’t have that kind of compassion at all, especially not if there were indeed smoke where the fires burned. Your Mom’s honesty with the seven year old you speaks volumes of an awesome lady. She didn’t brush off your fears or pretend you had mis-heard. She spoke to you with respect and honesty. And, hopefully, when you asked all those years later, your Dad did, too. Hopefully.

    • It helped that Mom was a teacher. She really did raise us with an attitude of respect for each other. Dad, too! For example, we were not allowed to tease in any way because that was considered a form of bullying. We badgered her about some of her rules, but now they make a great deal of sense. She was right. It can be a power bid…

  24. Amazingly well-written and such a powerful story. I somehow missed reading this properly early! I just hope there are more of your Moms out there and less Ednas.. :) Your mother seems like an incredible woman. And the new widow – incredibly forgiving, I’d say. I don’t think I can ever be like that.

    One of your best-written posts!

    • You know, P&P, I’m going to have to ask forgiveness to all the Ednas of the world. I’m hoping my readership is not large enough to start a trend where Edna is used in this context! Seriously, thank you for your comment. Yes, I do love and respect my mother deeply. She and I had very few rough patches even during my teen years – you know…that period of time when we are all so much smarter than our parents. :D

  25. Excellent! One thing caught my eye. You mentioned asking your Father, years later, about Edna. I wonder if it is in the “Grand Plan”. I have all these questions, now, I would like to ask my Grandparents and Parents and they are gone! I suppose it just means we are to learn our own lessons and experience our own journey. We never think to ask much when we are younger, so caught up in the rush of life and independence.

    • I found, Leslie, it doesn’t always work well to ask older siblings either. We all have a different perspective of the same event! When Mom and Dad were still alive, we’d ask for clarification and some of the most surprising bits of NEW information would be uncovered. I guess parents divvied out what they thought we could “handle” at whatever age…

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