A Mother's Love

by

Bast

Written 24 August 2002

This work is not to be reproduced in any way or archived
anywhere without the express written permission of the author.


I'm an old woman now. I'm dying. I know that. I can feel it. The pain intensifies every single moment with every breath I take.

My hands shake as I write these words in my diary, age creeping up on me, tiredness too, but I'm determined to get this down. I want Stanley to read this when I'm gone and know that I loved him more than anything else in the world other than his father.

I want him to know what I've known, see what I see.

Even though I've got two sons, Stanley is my favourite. He was a beautiful boy and he's grown into a beautiful man. He's accomplished a lot in his life and I'm so proud of him.

He was always into everything as a child, but I never minded. He was so alive, so energetic and so funny. His hair – it always stuck up in the air as a child, and he finally decided he'd go with the flow, as he used to say.

My beautiful Stanley.

I've never told anyone, but Damien isn't Stanley's father. No. I can't help but think of Stanley's father with an ache that I know – I knew it then, all those years ago – will never heal. I loved him, loved him deep and hard, but I couldn't leave Damien. Damien was a good man, a honourable man, and back then, you didn't just dispose of one another like they do today.

Quickie divorces, I think they're called.

Well, anyway, Mike – Stanley's father – was looking to earn some money and Damien and Dale were away to visit his mother. The heat had been terrible bad that summer, and I was sick. I'd just lost a baby, you see. Dale and Damien were gone, and Mike came to the door, and Lord, I fell in love just looking at him.

Tall man, slender, good looking. Very soft spoken, and very gentle.

Very gentle…

It wasn't long before we made love, before he touched me so differently than Damien ever did. Damien wasn't unkind to me, not at all. I just didn't love him like I loved Mike.

I still think of Mike to this day.

Damien never remarked on how different Stanley looked, how different Stanley acted, and I never said a word. No need.

I used to worry what Stanley would do without me. I took care of him before Stella, and after Stella. I took care of him the best I could. And now? Now Stanley loves another man – will he take care of my boy?

Yes, Stanley loves another man. They haven't told me, they haven't said a word, but Lord, I can see it in their eyes. I know my boy. I know when Stanley's in love.

He loved Stella, no doubt, but nothing like he loves Ben.

I know I should be shocked. I know I should be. But I'm not. Damien would have been. But I don't care. I'm glad someone is there for Stanley.

Ben's a good man. He's the one for my son. I can see that in his eyes.

+++++

The door opens and I look up. "Ben!" I'm happy to see him. I was hoping for a chance to speak to him and had intended on calling him. But this is better. He comes in my room, a big smile on his face.

"Mrs. Kowalski," Ben says, tipping his hat. What a gentleman. I wonder if he's gentle with my son.

"I've told you, call me Mum," I insist, patting the bed. "Sit here next to me."

He places his hat on one of the wheeled tables and sits where I indicate.

"I want to talk to you, Ben." I cough a little and he helps me get a drink of water. When I finally can talk again, I pat his hand. "I'm dying."

His eyes soften and he nods.

"I thought you knew," I say with a small smile. "Does Stanley?"

"He hasn't said, Mum," Ben replies. "But yes, I think so."

"Do you love my son?" I ask, my eyes narrowing. He hesitates and I shake my head, feeling angry. "Don't lie about love, Ben. Never. I did once and now… well, Damien is long gone, and…" I fall silent then look into his eyes, making a decision. "Damien isn't Stanley's biological father. He looks… Lord, Ben, he looks just like his father. All long body and quicksilver smile."

Ben looks startled and I shrug a little. "I loved him, but I lied about that love – to myself, to everyone. I couldn't leave Damien. But now, times are different, and – well, I want to know that Stanley'll be taken care of." I'm getting tired so I lay back and close my eyes. "Do you love him? Will you take care of him?"

"I love him with everything I am," Ben says quietly. "I'll take care of him."

"He doesn't really like me ironing his shirts, but… I just need to take care of him." I open my eyes. "Do you understand, Ben?"

"Yes. I understand."

I see by his eyes that he does understand.

"You know, he was always such a needy child. He always wanted to be hugged and loved and cuddled." My mind drifts back to those times and I sigh. "He got real sick once, a real high fever, and they – the doctors - thought he'd never learn, that I'd be stuck with a child who was mentally challenged. I didn't care. I loved Stanley and I knew we could overcome the problems. He still can't quite get his words out sometimes, or gets them twisted around, but he's not stupid."

"No, he's not," Ben agrees.

I smile up at him and pat his hand. "But you know that, don't you?"

Ben smiles down at me. "Yes, I do. I'm proud to call him my partner. But you should rest."

"I'll be resting soon enough. I want… I want you to make sure that Stanley has my diary when I die, Ben. Take it. I won't be needing it any longer."

"Yes, Mum." He picks up the small book and slips it in his coat pocket.

"So what brings you here today?" I ask, my eyes drooping a bit.

He hesitates and then squeezes my hand really quick. "I just wanted you to know that Ray is forever for me."

I squeeze his hand back and nod. "Are you gentle with him?"

"Yes ma'am."

"Such a good boy," I say softly. "I'm getting tired now, so you go on… I believe Stanley'll be getting off work soon."

"Yes, he will. I just wanted to come by, to tell you…" he falls silent and I pat his hand.

"Go, Ben. Take care of him like you promised me. And tell him I loved him. Loved him so much."

"I will. I promise."

I watch him go and then close my eyes. I drift, finally feeling no pain, knowing somehow this is the end, and I smile, knowing my boy is loved and taken care of. That's all I ever wanted.


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