I suppose in some ways it is fitting that all of this has played out over Easter weekend.
Events have unfolded very quickly, and dramatically.
While things are not "done" by a long shot, on Easter Sunday my Mom experienced her own personal resurrection. She stepped forward, and in a shaky voice confronted the man who was at once her husband and her captor. She told him that she couldn't live there with him any more. That she was going to live with us, and that she was happy there. That she didn't love him the way he wanted her to.
Seemingly oblivious to the fact that the woman standing before him was clearly healthier and happier than she had been in many years, his response was...
"What about me?"
Followed shortly by "What am I supposed to do?" and "How can you hurt ME like this?"
Breaking away from his selfish introspection for a moment, he rounded on me; "It's all YOUR fault! You are taking her away from me! This is what you have wanted all along, and now YOU are killing ME!".
As predicted, he cried. He begged. He pleaded. And then he made a really huge mistake.
He threatened suicide. Not once, but several times.
In a desperate, last ditch attempt to stop her from leaving, he promised that if she would just stay, he would bring her over to see us any time she wanted. Then, as we moved closer to the door, he cried out that he had never been "invited" to live with us, and that if we would only ask him one more time, he would love to be a part of our family!
It was at this point that I finally spoke, for the first time since Mom had begun the confrontation.
"One more time?" I asked him, incredulous. "One more time? Are you KIDDING me? How many times over the years have you and I discussed this? I tried - and tried - and TRIED to tell you that this day was coming - that Mom wanted to live with us - and you refused to hear it. She begged you to move back to our home town, to be nearer to her family, and you told both of us that you would NEVER step foot into my home state again, let alone in my home town, and now you want me to ask you ONE MORE TIME?
Forget it. I'm done, she's done, we're all done with you. It's over."
Mom quietly agreed. "It's over."
And with that, it was.
As soon as we were underway, I started dialing. The first call was to the Head Daughter (of The Daughters of Doom & Gloom). I greeted her, and told her briefly what had happened. She agreed to notify the other Daughters, and asked me to keep her posted as events continued to unfold.
This exchange might seem a bit strange to you - after all, in the past I have been less than kind regarding The Daughters. What you don't know is that the Head Daughter had called me several days before. To tell me some things. Chief among them was how The Stepdad's previous wife had committed suicide, and that she was really, really worried about my Mom going back into that situation. Because even The Daughters could see just how bad the situation was.
That previous wife she mentioned - we hadn't ever heard of. He hadn't been married twice before, as he had told Mom. He had been married THREE times. He conveniently "forgot" to mention that his last wife before Mom had killed herself.
I also learned during the course of that call that The Daughters haven't been waiting for The Stepdad to die so that they could get his money - they knew that he had written them out of the will several years ago when he was in a snit over some perceived slight. The Daughters had, however, been trying to keep an eye on my Mom, all of them afraid that she would not be strong enough to get out from under The Stepdad's watchful eye before she was too weak and too beaten down. Ironically, The Daughters are all scared of The Stepdad, too. It turns out that I've been the only one for years and years who has ever stood up to him. Answers the whole "Gee, I wonder why he doesn't like me" question rather neatly.
In an interesting little quirk, it turns out that The Daughters were all scared of *me* too. They thought that I didn't like them - and had been told that I wished to have nothing to do with them. Mom's health crisis finally forced them to call me, even though they were afraid to.
The Daughters aren't perfect, but I learned enough during that call to realize that The Stepdad was using an old, and very common trick to try and keep everyone dancing on the strings as he wished them to: Divide and conquer.
The next call was to the retirement community that they have been living in since last summer. I spoke to a member of the management team, and indicated that The Stepdad had not only just received this bad news - that his wife was moving away to live with her family - but that he had threatened to do harm to himself. I indicated how concerned I was about his welfare, and asked her to please check on him every day. She promised that she would, and took my cell number so that she could call me with "updates".
I thanked her, and ended the call. I already knew what was going to happen.
Less than two hours later, just as we were getting home again, my cell rang. It is the lady from the retirement community.
The Stepdad has been admitted to a local psych ward. He would be there for at least seven days, possibly up to fourteen days.
Let this be a lesson to you: Do not ever threaten suicide. Ever. No matter how dramatic you think it might be.
You'll get an opportunity to wear one of those oh-so-fashionable suits that buckle down the back... at least until the sedatives kick in.
I rarely call in favors. And I have never done so on a holiday before.
One more phone call, 15 minutes later, and I have a moving truck, boxes, packing materials and a crew of four for the next day starting at dawn, and for as long as it takes to get Mom's things packed and out of there, and over here.
Sometimes, it isn't *who* you know, it's what you know about them...
I am swimming in an ocean of lists now - change of address forms, medical paperwork, bank accounts, and more - all must be dealt with. There is the (not so small) matter of integrating all of Mom's things into our home; we were cramped for space to begin with, and with two households crammed into one space, we will have to give over two rooms simply to store things until we can assimilate everything as best we can.
I sense an enormous garage sale in my future.
There is still the matter of the divorce itself; her portion of the retirement community fees to be refunded, her will must be updated.
We have already begun talking about expanding the house, or perhaps seeking another house better suited to our newly expanded family.
It's going to be an interesting summer.
Mom is here, and safe, and getting happier, healthier, and stronger every day. She's been resurrected - literally and figuratively.
Best. Easter. Ever.