Something, or someone, had to give. In the end, it was the youngest boy who stepped forward to save the father.
The father was the epitome of an Air Force officer. Strong, hard-working, a disciplinarian, a benevolent ruler of the office and the home. As far as his children were concerned, he was never weak. They saw him as always guarded, as always one to be feared.
The mother’s action of asking for a divorce stunned everyone. No one was more stunned than the father. Everything he knew was now challenged. And he was ill-equipped to deal with the changes.
He enlisted his entire arsenal in his battle to save his marriage, to convince his wife that she was wrong. Late night phone calls, repeated multiple times over multiple nights. Pleadings with the oldest children to convince the mother that she was wrong. Calling in the reserves: his parents, his brother, her mother, her siblings.
The attempted suicide – whether real or staged – shook the two youngest kids to the core. Any attempt to shield them from the onslaught of the battle fell to the wayside. They were sucked into it as well.
One day, the fourth child and the fifth child talked about their fears of what would happen to the father. And the fourth child suggested a solution to save the father: the fifth child, the youngest boy, would volunteer to live with the father. He would leave all he knew to move several states away, to the next military base, and he alone would live with the father.
That decision was made 30 years ago. The youngest boy is in his early 40s now. His life has not been one of great achievement on the face of things. He heads up the bell desk at a resort hotel. He still smokes pot nearly everyday. He’s an underachiever if ever there was one.
But his decision saved a life of the father. His decision brought peace to the rest of us. Thank you, brother, for listening to me. We all thank you.
[What other decisions have been made? Read about them in Sunday Scribblings.]