You could almost smell the fear. The fear that Da would disappear. That he wasn’t here to stay. They couldn’t get enough of Rhys. There was so much catching up to do. Some of the phone conversations lasted four, five, even six hours at at time. Rhys was emotionally and physically exhausted.
At first, Rhys’ grief was for all the abuse his children had borne at the hands of the ‘good’ parent who had alienated him, the supposedly ‘bad’ parent. At pain of physical injury, his children had kept mum, never daring to tell Rhys just how bad home was with their mum and her man-of-the-moment threatening and beating them. I’ve never seen Rhys weep so hard nor be so angry.
Now Rhys has a new kind of grief. The pain of discovering that his young adult children are already involved in every life-destroying vice, even crime, leaving a trail of destruction and fatherless children in their wake. Now a second generation is growing up in broken homes, alienated from their fathers, Rhys’ sons.
As Rhys wife, I hadn’t expected just how accurately Rhys’ children would follow the pattern of the mother they claim to hate. It’s heartbreaking to watch the pattern of dysfunction repeat itself verbatim in the next generation. I also hadn’t expected just how much they would reminisce with Rhys about his past life. They think nothing of constantly bringing up Rhys’ ex-girlfriends, one of whom went on to marry Rhys’ son, a marriage his siblings consider incestuous. I was raised with a certain sensitivity, a delicacy that dictates one does not reminisce about exes in the presence of a current spouse. Rhys and his children have no such tact and seemed shocked, even confused, as to why it would upset me.