"When I was going through a particularly difficult break-up recently my mother told me that sometimes, like it or not, we can fall in love with someone that is bad for us. After all of her experiences, all of the emotional and physical pain she went through with my father, I seriously doubt that anyone on this giant spinning ball of dirt and water could possibly know that more than her. Falling in love with someone that was bad for her was exactly what happened when my mother met my father, and as it stands there are no pictures of them on their wedding day.
My parents met at the same bar in Norman, Oklahoma where years later my twin first saw his wife. My mother was a college undergrad, my father a law student. Or so he said. He left everyday at the same time for class, books in hand, off to learn the law. He was a smooth talker and she an innocent farm girl who fell for him along with everything he told her hook, line and sinker. Soon, he was able to talk her into being his common law wife. My mother, ever the diligent student, researched the practice of common law marriage, filed the necessary paper work, and changed her last name. There was no wedding. There were no pictures. Soon however, there were twins. And there were lies, lots of them. Eventually, everything started to unravel.
Steve Edwards, 25-year-old law student, turned out to not be a law student, turned out to not be 25 years old, and turned out to not even be named Steve Edwards. Instead, he turned out to be a 35-year-old abusive alcoholic and habitual liar. My father began beating my mother black and blue and he did it often. Bumps, bruises, breaks, it wasn’t pretty. She suffered a broken back once. Another time, he tied her up and put her in the trunk of his car. She was missing for a week and no one had any idea where she was. Eventually, she had to drop out of school because of it. My mother filed for divorce but for some reason she still loved him. They got divorced and then got back together. Then they had another child. God love her, my dear sweet mother tried to make it work. My father would tell her he was sorry, that he would stop drinking, and of course because love can be as blinding as a hot poker to the eye, she believed him. As you might have guessed though, it didn’t stop. There were more lies. There was more drinking. There were more bruises, bumps, and broken bones. Finally the last straw came when he began hitting one of her children. She told him not to beat her child, so he stopped and began beating her.
The story does have a happy ending though. She left him after that day. Things were hard. A single mother of three on welfare at the age of 24, my mother went back to school full time and got her Master’s degree in a year. She remarried. And this time, there were pictures. Embarrassing pictures of a four-year-old me in a green plaid suit walking my mother down the isle, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that she had found love and that he became a wonderful father to her three children and a fourth would soon join them. They went through ups and downs but now, where my old father would show her the back of his hand, my new father would show her love.
Someone once told me that my mother had been a bad mother for staying with my father and subjecting her children to that. I could agree with nothing in the world any less. I think my mother is the strongest woman I know for leaving even when it was hard. I think she’s the strongest woman in the world for realizing that she loved someone that was bad for her and for leaving. And as her reward, she found a super hero. And she finally got those wedding pictures."
-submitted by a reader in Oklahoma City, OK