It's funny how much a child can remember about people who passed through her life, then moved on, never to be seen again. I'm thinking now about a man named George. (I remember his last name, too, but won't say it here.) He was my divorced mother's boyfriend when I was about seven or eight years old.
Here's a photo of handsome George, an expression of concentration on his face as he carved a Halloween pumpkin for my little sister and me:
I don't know how long George was a part of our lives. It seemed like a very long time, but when I think back now about the vast span of time between the Christmases of my childhood, I realize his relationship with my mother--with all of us--may not have lasted as long as I thought it did.
George took us along sometimes when he went out with my mother, and he visited us at home (where we lived with my grandparents) often. I remember one of those visits more than others.
George was a policeman. One day he drove up in his patrol car, parked it near the end of the driveway, and left it with the motor running while he sat on the front porch longer than he should have and visited with Mother and my grandparents. When the radio in his car began chattering, George ran to his car, listened for a moment, waved a quick goodbye, then drove away.
He didn't go far. Seconds after he left, he pulled into our next-door neighbor's driveway. The neighbor lady had hosted a card party that night, and while George was sitting on our front porch, someone had climbed through the neighbor's window, stolen the contents of her guests' purses, stuffed the purses with leaves, and fled. This all happened on the other side of a tall hedge that bordered our driveway, but no more than twenty feet away from where we sat.
Considering that plenty of fallen leaves were available for purse-stuffing purposes, I'm thinking that this incident and the pumpkin-carving event must have taken place no more than a few weeks apart.
However long George was around, his role in our lives ended abruptly. I remember feeling disappointed that he wasn't coming over anymore and sad that he hadn't told my sister and me goodbye. I don't remember what Mother told us at the time, but I'm quite sure she didn't tell us the truth.
I mentioned George to my mother once, not many years before she passed away, and she told me then what had really happened. She'd discovered that George was married. He wasn't the first man who had lied to her and wouldn't be the last.
It's funny how much a child can remember about people who passed through her life, then moved on. It's funny how someone can cut a tiny hole in a child's spirit and never even know it.