A Bad Marriage Is Fattening
Can a bad marriage really be fattening? Yes it can! In my own bad marriage I went from 125 pounds to 275 pounds 20 years later. This is the story of how my unhappy marriage made me fat — and how I divorced my husband and moved on to a happier new life.

Chapter 5: The Weeping Heart

Even though Paul had paid for our apartment through January 31st, I had to move out.  There were just too many memories.  Too many dreams that now never would be.  Tearfully I called my parents.

I sat in the apartment like a zombie while Mom and Dad packed all my belongings into boxes and moved me back to their house.  I was 31 years old and I was back where I had started, living in my parent’s house.

New Year’s Eve 1975 Mother retired to her bedroom at eleven o’clock.  Instead of toasting in the New Year with Paul by my side as my new husband, I laid on the couch in the living room in an old flannel nightgown.  Dad sat in his overstuffed chair cracking sunflower seeds with his teeth.  We watched Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on television getting ready to ring in the New Year.

Occasionally Dad inhaled a sunflower seed down his windpipe.  This was immediately followed by a sudden coughing spasm and his face would turn red.

“Are you alright?” I asked concerned, wondering if Dad needed a firm slap on the back.

“I’m fine,” Dad said choking and waving me off with his hand, “just went down the wrong way.”

Dad would then go back to munching his sunflower seeds.  The last seconds of 1975 were being counted down.  “Five…four…three…two… one…HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

There were loud cheers as Guy Lombardo’s band began to play, Auld Lang Syne. Everyone was singing, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…”

I tried not to think about Paul and what life was going to be like without him.

Dad got out of his chair, walked over to the couch, bent down and gave me a big kiss.  I smelled the sunflower seeds on his breath.  “Happy New Year, Joanie.”

“Happy New Year, Daddy,” I said kissing him back, and then I began to cry.

“Oh, come on.  Paul’s not worth crying over,” Dad said, trying to cheer me up.

“But I love him, Daddy.”

“A woman as pretty as you can have any man she wants.”

“I don’t want any man – I want Paul.”

“He walked out on you.  He doesn’t deserve your love!  Get up!  Snap out of this – I want to dance the New Year in with my daughter.”

“Daddy, I don’t feel like dancing.”

“Are you going to spend all of 1976 sulking?  Dance with your old man.”  Dad started to waltz around the room like he was holding an imaginary partner.  “Come on, Joanie,” Dad beckoned me, “it’s no fun dancing alone.  Won’t you dance the first dance of the New Year with your father who loves you?”

There was a time, many years ago when I had first fallen in love with Paul, that I would fantasize in my mind’s eye Paul and I dancing together our first dance as husband and wife at our wedding, and how our families, relatives and friends would all look happily on.

What a joyous day that would be!  I would picture Paul in a black tuxedo and myself in my bridal gown.  We would be laughing and celebrating our love with the people we were the closest to.

Through a haze of love I saw my father, mother and two brothers wishing us a lifetime of love.  I saw Lillian, Paul’s mother, hugging Paul and fighting back tears because her husband had not lived to see this day.  I saw Paul effortlessly whirling me around the dance floor, his hand in the small of my back, masterfully guiding my every move.

In reality we never danced together in perfect harmony.

I always ended up stepping on Paul’s toes, causing one of us to trip.  That was when Paul would let me take over the lead.  But I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I always ended up making a move Paul hadn’t anticipated.  That was when Paul would be thrown completely off balance and go hurling into a couple that was dancing next to us.

Paul would always look at the other couple and say, “She can’t dance,” to explain himself tumbling into them.

Then exasperated Paul would take back the lead.  “One, two, three, four – one, two, three, four,” Paul would say to me.  “Joanie, there’s four corners to a box step.  It’s just a simple box step.  Can’t your feet make a box?”

I could, but only in my dreams.

In my dreams I floated like a feather in Paul’s arms.  Two people who moved as one.  And even though it was only a fantasy, every time I visualized my wedding a tight lump would form in my throat and my eyes would moisten up with tears like I was actually living the experience. . .

“Come on, Joanie,” Dad was saying, trying to get me out of my slump, his arms were outstretched and he had a loving smile on his face, “dance the New Year in with me.”

“Daddy, I love you, but I just don’t feel like dancing.”

Just then Mother walked into the room, “Joanie, dance with your father.”

“Mom, I’m just not in the mood to dance.” I began to cry.

Mother and Dad watched helplessly as I cried.

Finally Mother said, “Joanie, stop crying.”

“I can’t.  It hurts so bad.  I’m never going to forget the horror of that moment when I learned Paul walked out on me.”

“Oh, but you will,” Mother said, “if you don’t make a memorandum of it.”  And then Mother quoted to me “Through The Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll:

“The horror of that moment,” the King went on, “I shall never, never forget!”

“You will though,” the Queen said, “if you don’t make a memorandum of it.”

Then Mother handed me a paper with a poem that she had written for me.  It was written in blue ink.  She drew pictures with crayons around the writing — a blue sky, the sun, a tree, butterflies and birds.

On the other side of the paper the poem continued, but in red writing.  At the top of the page Mother drew four hearts. In each heart she drew a different face.  The first was crying and sad.  The second was smiling.  The third was angry.  And the forth was happy.

Those four heart faces were Mother’s way of telling me that as long as we are alive we would experience the gamut of human emotions.

My mother died September 15, 2001.  On this Valentine’s Day 2010 I would like to share with you, dear reader, a very special poem my mother wrote for me many years ago to comfort me in my time of sorrow.  It’s called The Weeping Heart (Words to a daughter) By Alice Oshatz:

“Today I saw your heart cry and thought of your happy childhood days, when the only tears were the tears in your eyes that a kiss and a hug could dry away.”

“Today your eyes were solemn and dry but your heart was weeping away.”

“You are grown now, and the magic I used to use would not comfort you today.  So my heart hurt but in my wisdom I knew. . .”

“You were conceived in love, and born with love, and love will come to you.”

“You are part of the river that is always flowing and stagnant you never will be.  And just as the river has obstacles to overcome to get to the ocean, so do we.”

“So dear heart, I cannot wipe away the hurt because you have to grow.”

“Just as the trees, flowers, birds, and beasts have to learn how to survive in the universe.”

“It’s a beautiful world, but there’s a price to pay to be alive in it.”

“A tear in the eye.”

“A weeping heart.”

“A lonely day.”

“But if you look around at nature and see it as it is, the universe is very large with oceans, forests and skies.”

“And so dear one, when you despair remember you are part of it.”

3 Responses to “Chapter 5: The Weeping Heart”

  1. Great read once again and an excellent poem.

  2. Your words made me feel your “weeping heart”. Every entry I read seems to get better and better. I agree…feels like your in the moment. Awesome entry once again Joan!!

  3. What a wonderful gift your mother has left you Joanie. Her love for you truly shows through every word she wrote and so does her gift for writing, which she has passed on to you. 🙂


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