Child of Adulterybythecelt©
This is a slightly different story than my usual. It would fit in the Consequences category under Loving Wives, but it is really a different type of story. I'll still put it under LW, but judge for yourself.
Edited and improved with comments by LadyCibelle.
I was sitting in the waiting room of the hospital, trying in vain to control my emotions. They were on a roller coaster and I was getting sick from the ride. My son was in the operating room and whether he lived or died was out of my hands. His chances could be better but that was also out of my hands. All I could do now was wait and pray. The hospital minister sat with me and did his best to reassure me, but that was only part of my problem. He asked me if I wanted to talk or confess and I nodded in the affirmative. I looked over at the far side of the room where my wife sat alone and made up my mind. I told him I had a story I needed to tell someone. He pledged his silence and I began.
My name is Michael Durant and I have a secret. It's one I'd kept from everyone except my wife and I had just told her days ago. It's a secret that affects my thinking in a lot of ways and I've tried over the years to try to minimize its affects on me but in the past month, it's been very difficult. It may be that what I do because of my secret will destroy my life and all I hold dear but I'm really trying to not let it do that. Since we're talking about it, I might as well tell you what it is, but I have to do it my way. You have to swear to me that you'll never repeat it to anyone, especially not to my son. Promise me!
I come from a fairly normal family, raised in a typical home in the Midwest and living a perfectly normal life. My dad Walter was a millwright in a steel mill and had over twenty years seniority. He was a big man but always seemed like a giant teddy bear, he was so easy going and kind to us kids. Alice, my mom was a stay at home mom, raising us kids and keeping our home safe and happy. I was the second child in a family of four; two boys and two girls. Molly was the oldest and Kate was the youngest. My brother George was a year younger than me and Kate was three years younger than him. We got along fairly well with just the normal spats and such.
I remember mom was a pretty woman, always nicely dressed and friendly. There were a lot of women who stopped by when I was growing up and our house was always filled with family. Mom had a sister Lucile who was married with two kids of her own and although dad was an only child, his mother and dad stopped by often, at least until they moved to Florida when I was nine. So our house was never quiet and never empty. At least as far as I knew.
Things changed when Kate started school. Mom was finally alone in the house during the day and she started to go out more and more. She said she was meeting with other moms to plan school activities and stuff like that. I didn't much care since I was gone anyway. The evenings continued to be a family affair with all of us sitting at the dinner table. That was the only rule that dad insisted on making us follow. We had to be there for dinner regardless of what else was happening. I had to turn down some school activities that required me to be there late and so did Molly. But neither of us really minded.
Then the unexpected happened: when I was nine years old, I got sick. It was a kidney problem; both kidneys were affected and it got worse and worse until I was put on dialysis. The doctors told my mom and dad that if I didn't get a kidney transplant, I was going to die. The obvious choice of a donor would be a sibling and George and Molly were the obvious choices as candidates. Kate was almost too young at five, but George was eight and Molly was eleven. Mom and dad talked it over and decided to let George and Molly get tested. They were both willing so the tests were taken and we waited for the results. That's when things got really strange.
Mom came in a few days after Molly and George were tested to tell me that neither was a candidate. She was crying and I tried to tell her it would be OK but she just cried harder. She didn't stay long and when she left she was still crying. It scared me a little because if she was that upset, it didn't look good for me. I was beginning to worry now that I might die and for a nine year old, that was scary stuff. I wasn't doing real good when dad came in to see me. He told me the same thing mom did but he told me that there was a good chance that I could still get a kidney from the national registry. He also told me that all my relatives got tested just to see if they could help either me or someone else so all in all, he said it was a good thing that I was sick if our family could help someone else. That was dad.
I asked him why mom was so upset but he said that it had nothing to do with me. She was upset about something else and he didn't want to talk about it. He did say that he would be coming in less often since his work schedule was being changed. That didn't worry me because it happened before. He talked for a while longer then he left.
I did get a kidney and the transplant was scheduled that same week. I had a chance to see my brother and sisters and we talked a little before the surgery. One thing I did learn that surprised me was that dad was not staying at home right now. He and mom said it had to do with dad's schedule but Molly told me privately that mom was crying a lot at night and she didn't think it was because of me. She said she didn't know what was going on but dad seemed to be yelling at mom a lot. I asked her if dad was actually shouting and she said he was. That meant it was something big. She said she would keep me posted and left.
It was hard for me to concentrate on anything except what was happening to me so I forgot about mom and dad as the day of surgery arrived. I was wheeled into the operating room, moved over to the stainless steel table, fortunately covered with a warm sheet, and then after a few words of nonsense from the doctor, I faded away.
I woke in the recovery room, groggy and feeling nothing. I was moved into a private room with glass walls and connected to some machines and a bag of saline solution. The nurses would come in occasionally and inject something into the port of the IV drip and it must have been for pain because I felt nothing. It was the following day when I actually rejoined the world of the living. Now I was uncomfortable but still able to talk and understand what the nurses and doctors were saying. Everything went well they said and I would be able to get up in a day or so.
Mom came in to see me, smiling and holding my hand and telling me that everything went very well and the doctors were pleased. She talked about home and the kids and how they were doing. She told me about fixing up a room with all I would need when I came home. She talked about everything except dad. When I mentioned him, her smile disappeared and she said very quietly that he would be in when he could. She only stayed a few more minutes then left, saying she would be back later.
Over the next few days, mom and dad both stopped to see me, although at different times. Both seemed fine but neither talked about the other. As things developed and I got better and able to come home, I began to wonder if my illness had caused problems between mom and dad. It grew in my mind until I was positive that they were upset because of me. At nine, I still thought my impact on the world was greater than it really was and if they were fighting or arguing, it had to be my fault. I was positive when the day came for me to be discharged and only dad showed up. He said mom was at home waiting for me and making sure everything was OK but I knew it was because dad wanted to pick me up and she wouldn't come with him. It was because of me!
At home, dad helped me in and showed me the changes mom had made to the living room. She had a single bed set up with a side table and lights for me so that I wouldn't have to climb the stairs so often. It was neat and I was excited about it. Molly and George made fun of me but Kate was quick to tell them to leave me alone. It felt wonderful to be back home where things were as they should be! Dad helped me to sit down and talked to me for a few minutes before saying he had to go. When the kids walked away, leaving me and dad alone, I finally asked him,
"Dad, what's wrong? I know you and mom are upset about me getting sick and I know it's causing problems. I don't know what to do except say I'm sorry for getting sick. I don't want it to make problems between you two."
To my eternal shame, I started to cry in front of my dad! I wanted to hide the tears but I just couldn't and I was mortified when I had to choke back a sob. Dad just put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. I wanted to hide my face in his chest but men didn't do stuff like that. I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and tired to turn away but dad did something that to this day I'll never forget: he put one hand under my chin and kissed my forehead. Dad actually kissed me! Then, to compound my shock, he lifted my face so that he could look me in the eye and said;
"Michael, you hear me and hear me good! What's between your mother and I is not your fault! It has nothing to do with your illness. You're my son and nothing will ever change that. You remember that regardless of what you hear. Your mother and I love you and nothing you do will change that either."
He let me go and then asked again: "Do you understand what I just said?"
"Yes dad. I understand. I do." I wanted to please him but I really was confused by what he said. What did he mean by telling me I was his son? Of course I was! And how could anything change that? What did he mean when he said 'regardless of what you hear?'
He leaned over and the big teddy bear kissed me on the cheek. I wanted to cry again but this time it was because I loved him so much. I just held it in like a man. He stood, looked at me for a second before turning and walking out.
With mom's help and support, I healed and began to do more things. I started walking a little and soon was walking around the large yard surrounding our house. Molly helped me in the afternoons when she was home and we began to bond more than we had in the past. It had been about a week since dad talked to me and she was helping me to walk up and down the stairs one evening. I was hurting a little so she helped me to a chair. As I rested, she looked around to make sure mom wasn't nearby than whispered to me.
"Have you noticed that Aunt Lucy and Uncle Frank haven't been around? I haven't seen them since the day dad moved out. I think something stinks around here. They haven't been around even to see you and that's just weird."
I thought about it and she was right. I hadn't seen either of them except when they stopped to see me in the hospital. And that was real early one morning before mom or dad were due in to see me. I had always been close to Uncle Frank so it was even funnier.
"You're right. I did see them at first in the hospital but not since I've been home. Wonder why? Think they're having a fight with mom or dad?"
"Beats me. I just wondered if you knew anything. But good news: dad's moving back home tomorrow."
"No kidding? That's great news! I miss him now more than ever. I guess it's because I'm home so much."
Molly was right: dad did move back home that night and he spent a good bit of time with me, watching what I could do and complimenting me on my recovery. He seemed quiet and sad more than I had seen him in the past, but he was home and that was what was important. We were back to eating dinner together with dad at one end of the table and mom at the other. We all talked together as we had but now dad and mom spoke mainly to us and not to each other as they once did. But he was home.
My transplant took and after five years I was still OK with no sign of rejection. I was on meds and would be for the rest of my life but I was doing great. I was back in school, home life was pretty much routine and mom and dad seemed to be doing better. There was still a lack of the happiness and joy that marked the earlier years but we thought nothing about that. I graduated and went to college, living on campus and coming home only for holidays. I stayed and tried to finish my degree in record time and with dad's help financially I was able to do it in less than four years, graduating almost a year ahead of Molly who took the traditional path.
I took a job working as a design engineer with GE and got into the medical machine division. It was a good job and I made decent money. I did help dad with the expenses for the rest of the family and Molly and I made enough to help Kate toward the end. Even with that, I had enough left over to find my own place and to start to date.
I was twenty four years old when mom called me one evening and asked me to stop by the house whenever I could. She said that she and dad wanted to talk to me and tell me something I would need to know at some point in my life. I told her I would be over the next evening since my interest had been aroused. I finished work, drove home to change and went home to see my parents. First time I had been home in over a month. I called frequently but didn't seem to find time to visit.
I went in to find mom and dad sitting in the family room, talking quietly. There was something about the atmosphere that bothered me but I grabbed a soda from the refrigerator and went in to join them. We were alone, the rest of the family either in school or out for the evening. Only Kate still lived at home now.
"OK, so what's up? What is it I need to know?" I was trying to keep it light but neither of them smiled. Dad looked at mom, she nodded but as she turned her head away, I saw the tears in her eyes. That scared me. This wasn't going to be good news. Dad began:
"There is something you need to know if you are going to be getting married and have children of your own one of these days. We think it is time you knew." He stopped and I saw mom shake her head as if to deny anything he said.
"I am not your biological father Mike."
That sentence hung in the air like a guillotine, hovering and waiting to fall. It hit me hard enough to convince me that it had fallen: directly onto my neck! What did he mean, not my biological father? What did that mean?
"Mom? Dad? What does that mean?! What does that mean?!" I know I wasn't making any sense. I know what it meant but it couldn't be real. Why would they do this to me? Why would they hurt me like this? Hadn't I done all they expected of me? I tried to be a good son. I got sick, yes, but it wasn't my fault!
"I don't deserve this. It wasn't my fault that I got sick. It wasn't. Is that what this is? To punish me because of what I did to you and mom? It that it? I'm sorry that I caused you to be apart but I didn't mean it!" I knew I was hysterical but I felt it all come crashing back on me: when they separated, when dad moved away, when mom started crying all the time. All because of me and now they were doing this to push me away.
I jumped up and started to pace the room. I was hurt; distraught and angry. I didn't want this. It couldn't be true. But as I paced, I began to see another possibility; that I wasn't the reason they separated. Maybe something happened when I got sick that told dad I wasn't his biological son. Maybe that was it. Yes! Now it all made sense. Now I remembered what dad said to me that day: "You're my son and nothing will ever change that. You remember that regardless of what you hear." Now it made sense. Now all mom's crying made sense.
Suddenly I was calm again. The news was still horrible and something I didn't want to hear but now I knew that it wasn't me that caused my parents to separate. I wasn't at fault! In spite of the bad news, I felt fiercely glad that I hadn't ruined their lives by my own misfortune. But I had to hear the rest of it now. I sat down and turned to mom and said,
"Tell me mom. Tell me what I have to know. I'm ready to listen." My face was calm and my heart was settled now so I was ready to know who my father was. As I looked at her I could tell that this was one of the hardest things she would ever do, and I felt sorry for both her and my father. This had to hurt him as well.
"Your biological father is your Uncle Frank. Only he, Lucy, your father and I know. The other children do not know and we have no intention of telling them. This is for you to know and do with what you will."
"How did it happen mom? How did you allow this to happen? Why would you do this to me, to us? I don't understand." I shouldn't have asked that and I knew it as soon as I said it. The words hit her like a slap in the face and she broke down in tears. And the slap came from me, her son. I began to apologize when my father interrupted me. He was angry, not at her but at me.
"Son, that is between your mother and me. It is not your place to ask or to judge. You are my son, I love you, and that is the end of it. We told you this for medical reasons only. Frank gave me his records and now they are yours. He has no further interest in my family as he well knows. If you chose to speak to him, that is your business and none of mine. This is the end of it. Do you understand son?"
I hung my head in shame and replied, "I understand and I apologize to you, mother."
That was the end of it as far as my father was concerned. He did what he had to do to make it right with me and nothing more need be said. I took that secret with me as I returned to my job and I never discussed it with anyone after that. None of my siblings knew it and I never told them. I was their brother and that was the end of it for me as well. As far as Uncle Frank was concerned, I had no interest in him at all. He may have been my sperm donor but he hurt my father and that was unforgivable.
I learned to deal with this new information and in truth, it had little affect on my life. I continued to treat my parents as just that. Nothing more was said between us and I came to accept that the issue was buried as far as they were concerned. I continued to work and move up in my field and I met my wife Marilyn a year later. She was an engineer like me, although in a different department, and traveled quite a bit but we found time to date. We hit it off and started dating exclusively and we were married soon after. My brother George stood as my best man, my mother and father were present along with my sisters. Uncle Frank did not come, nor did Aunt Lucile although she was invited. She and my mother were speaking but they hadn't seen each other for ten years. But the wedding was wonderful and I was a happy man. Marilyn and I were in love and we were happy together. I never felt the need to tell her my secret so I continued to keep it to myself.
We both worked for GE Medical so we pooled our resources to buy our first home. We moved in and began working on a family. We had our first child after being married for almost four years. It was a boy and we named him Lawrence Walter Durant, after our fathers. Marilyn stayed at home while Larry was small but then went back to work while Larry was in daycare. Ten months later she was pregnant with our second. She delivered a girl we named Paula after her mother. I was happy as my family began to grow. By this time, I was doing well enough that she decided to quit and stay home with our children. There was a period during our seventh year of marriage when things got difficult and we actually separated for a short while. We talked of divorce but after agreeing on marriage counseling, we were able to work together to rebuild what we lost. Things improved and Marilyn got pregnant with our third, a boy we named William.