The Bastard Son
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
It’s not uncommon for me to feel The Dead when they are nearby. It doesn’t frighten me, no more so than feeling angels nearby. It’s a gift I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but it became especially strong in my teen years.
I certainly felt them in the room with Daddy back in 2000, in the ICU when he was giving Mama and me funeral instructions. The two presences I felt most were Daddy’s daddy and his old friend, Willie. But there were other old aunts and uncles on the periphery. That’s an odd sensation to feel the veil lifting. Most people who’ve sensed that don’t talk about it. They’re afraid of ridicule from people who haven’t experienced it. I talk about it because it’s far more common than anyone thinks, and every time I’m forthcoming, people tell me privately that they, too, know and just thought they were crazy.
A few nights before Daddy died, I felt an…agitation in the Ether, for lack of a better term. Things were stirred up. I felt the heaviness I associate with a heart patient all around me in the hours just before his death and at that time, but when I arrived in Georgia for the funeral, I was surprised that I didn’t sense him there. I’d expected to. Good grief, I’m an empath! Feel is what I do. But he was not there. I didn’t sense his presence at all until a little bit at the funeral. I sensed my mother’s father (Alva) there, all the time, but not my own.
I had the impression that Daddy was spending time on the other side with his mama, that the two of them had lots to discuss in terms of karma and how they plan to play it in their next lives, given the dynamic between them in this one. I’m not complaining. It’s an easy dynamic to see.
Elizabeth was pregnant with him when she married on Valentine’s Day 1926, forced (in her day) into a marriage with a man beneath her social station in life, given she was from a lineage of very wealthy plantation owners. She left town, married in Florida, and tried her best to hide her “premature” baby with a September birthdate. But technology catches up with us all, and his birth certificate eventually came to light with a date a month earlier than we’d always celebrated and a marriage license to we were already aware of. That explained a lot.
She always seemed to hold him responsible for her lot in life rather than accept responsibility for his conception. I never saw any maternal response to him, ever. She spent over 80 years withholding the one thing he wanted, and he spent his entire life yearning for his mother’s love. That dynamic affected everything else in the family. The pull and push of their relationship was a great teacher, not necessarily of all good things. I have seen too many family members turn their backs on their own children, and of course, it was always there, always modeled for us by their relationship. It’s why I never, when I was younger, wanted a little boy. I was afraid then that I’d somehow follow the family pattern. I know now that I’ve broken the pattern and that I could love a son as much as a daughter, but I didn’t know that for many, many years.
No wonder it took at least four days for Daddy and his mother to work through things and for him to return to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
By Sunday, he was all around me. I don’t think he’s worked through it all yet, but I do think he’s now thinking about someone other than his mother.