Son helps widowed mother, family taboo, incest stories, Everyone who knew Ralph was stunned by his sudden death in his mid-fifties. He was an active and apparently fit man right up until the time he sank a twenty-foot putt to complete the last round of golf he would ever play. He felt a momentary sharp pain in his side as he bent to retrieve the ball from that last hole, and he felt increasingly ill as he walked with his playing partners back toward the clubhouse. Halfway there he stumbled and dropped to his knees on the walkway. His friends helped him to a bench on the clubhouse veranda. An ambulance crew took him from there to the hospital, where the Emergency Room staff did all they could to deal with his massive heart attack. Ralph died less than an hour later.
His wife Paula had rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard the news. She had been able to speak with her husband briefly before he was gone. Their son Charley, who was now 22 and no longer living at home with his parents, arrived too late to say his goodbyes to his father but he was there to comfort his mother and to take her home. Charley stayed at home with his mother for the few days it took to make the funeral arrangements and to help Paula get started in the routines of her new life as a widow.
Paula seemed too stunned by her husband’s death to be doing much serious grieving. Her eyes welled up with tears at the funeral, but Charley never saw her openly crying. He intuitively felt that this was psychologically unhealthy for her, but he knew that people deal with grief and loss in their own ways. Perhaps she would grieve more deeply later on. Perhaps time was all she needed to heal her wounds and let her get on with her life.
On the weekend following the funeral, Charley again visited his mother to see how she was coping. He noticed immediately that her suffering had become more evident and was taking some disturbing forms. She would spend hours in her room alone, crying over family album pictures or over her husband’s clothes and other personal belongings. She had relegated his golf bag and clubs to the basement but, oddly, the putter he had in his hand when his heart failed him now rested on a pillow on what had been his side of their bed. Maybe Paula needed some contact with the thing her husband had had his last real contact with, and of course she knew how much he had loved the game.
Charley decided to stay with his mother for a day or two, just to keep an eye on her. Living alone didn’t seem to be working out too well for her just yet.
In the middle of the first night he’d slept in his childhood bedroom for a long time he was awakened by the sound of his mother crying in her bedroom. He went to her door and listened there for a moment. Then he opened the door and stepped into her completely darkened room. He waited until her sobs subsided before he let her know that he was there.
“Are you OK, Mom?” he asked. She made no reply, although she was clearly awake. Charley moved closer to the bed. “I heard you crying. Do you want to talk?” She said nothing.