He was sobbing quietly repeating between the sobs the question of 'why did he have to marry her' . His crying seemed to scare the birds that were chatting cheerfully nearby . It scared me too although I was familiar with the man's trauma as he was an aquaintance of mine , one whose advice in various matters I greatly valued.
The 'explosion' of his traumatic problem that he carried with him from childhood, usually happened upon the return from one of his visits to his father's widow; he used to get off at the bus station near the park with the red benches , and sit down on one of them to feed the birds and clear his thoughts before heading home to his wife and kids. He had promised his father on his deathbed that he would visit his widow regularly and help her out with whatever she needed. He kept his promise faithfully; moreover, he also helped his half brother who sometimes got in trouble with the law.
I met him in the park and listened , not for the first time, to the story of his life.
He (Marc) was born in a small town in Poland. His mother died at a relatively young age leaving a husband and two children: Marc and his sister. Not long after her death, his father remarried with the housemaid , a young woman who had come to town from one of the nearby villages to look for work and found her place with the small jewish family.
According to Marc's story, after his father's remarriage, the two children became the laughingstock of their colleagues in school and object to pity of the adult world of neighbors and relatives. The school mates used to mock them for their new Mom, calling her illiterate and peasant. The adults constantly uttered in their presence questions such as: why couldn't he just live with her like man and woman, why did he have to marry her, give her his family name, etc..? All this -not to mention the jewish community's boycotting of the father for taking a Gentile for a wife - was hard on Marc and his sister, and left deep scars on their young souls.
The story appealed very much to the romantic side in me . Here was a man (Marc's father) willing to sacrifice quite a lot to marry the woman he wanted. I saw in my imagination a relationship between two very different persons willing to accept each other 'as is' without any conditions and expectations, and I liked that. Of course, I never disclosed these thoughts to Marc as it would mean to sprinkle salt on his wounds. He liked to think that his father was not too bright ,to say the least, and that's why he had fallen into the hands of the maid. It never occured to him that his father could have possibly felt respect , affection, and even love for the peasant woman. After all, a child was born to them and the relationship was strong and lasted despite the hostile environment.
The widow has recently passed away. I think , may be with her death, Marc will finally get his well deserved inner peace . Who knows, it's hard to tell.