Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma


My son is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. He reminds me so very much of my father: very private; never forthcoming about himself or his life. My Dad was exactly the same. If he gave you a glimpse into the real essence of himself, you learned to listen. He never said much and he never repeated himself. I learned far more about who my father was as a man at his funeral than I had ever heard him share with any of the members of his family. “He helped me out when I was going through a really rough time,” said any number of people I had never met before, with tears in their eyes. Some of the folks who came to pay my father their respects looked pretty downtrodden to me: I could see by their stooped shoulders; their threadbare clothes and the deep wrinkles in their faces that their lives had not been easy. One man told me how Dad had helped set him up with a place of his own – I had no idea. I felt honoured to receive the hugs these people clearly intended for my Dad.

Like Dad, we must poke and prod and gently push my son toward giving up even the smallest bits of himself and even then, he refuses to do so unless he clearly wants to. Every once in a while, though, he gives you this absolute treasure of a glimpse into some undisclosed part of himself and you realize how little you know him.

“Who’s Marcel (*)?” I asked, late one night on a rare visit to see him: the first time I had stayed at his apartment overnight and A Very Big Deal to both of us.

“How do you know about Marcel?” He answered, startled from his spot on the couch where he was fighting to stay awake.

“He left a note in your mailbox. I wasn’t sure I was at the right place when I got here so I checked to see if your name was on the envelopes. He left a note that wasn’t in an envelope. He seemed a bit upset with you.”

Marcel, it turns out, is a homeless man who sometimes crashes on my son’s couch. He had planned to stay with my son the week I arrived. After I called and asked if I could come for a visit, my son told him it wasn’t going to work this time. I was sitting slack-jawed, looking at my son as if I never met him before, feeling pride swelling into my chest and bursting out of every orifice. It was such a kind thing to do; the sort of thing my husband (and my Dad) would do in a millisecond. I just never expected such generosity, such kindness, such ‘class blindness’ from my cosmopolitan, intelligent, well-spoken, busy-making-a-name-for-himself son. “That’s so lovely, honey.” I managed to say at last, “And a little surprising, I guess. Whatever made you start offering him your couch?”

“He’s my friend.” answered my son, with a tiny edge to his voice, ever-so-slightly put off by my surprise. And typically, no further details would be forthcoming. He moved on to a different topic and I, taking the hint, dropped the issue.

Just like his grandfather: a mystery wrapped in an enigma…

Patti Moore Wilson/©


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

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