Please refer to Part 1 If you haven't already read it before you read this update. It's important to know what happened previous to this update~~Author
Glenn Caswell was talking with her grown son, Gareth, while they sat at the dining table. She looked down at her hands a moment and then back up at him,
"You've had a crush on Lori Lassiter since you were kids; you never said so but it was obvious to me," seeing him start to deny it she said, "Just hear me out and then we can debate it if you want to."
Link to the Landgraab Dorm chapter of University 1 where Gareth "warns" Harvey about Lori as a child *two thirds of the way down the page go HERE
"Out of John's kids I loved that little girl maybe the most of all. Still do," she went on, "So I admit I thought fondly of the idea that you might someday end up together. When you got to middle school I knew that, while a lot of your wildness was my fault for a number of reasons, I also knew you were acting out because Lori was content to just be your friend. I reasoned that either you would grow out of it or she would change her mind and choose you, maybe by high school. But she didn't, she eventually chose Harvey, and when you started dating Holly, I was happy, even though I knew you were fooling around with the occasional "bad girl" on the side. I didn't like it, but I figured you couldn't clean up your act in one fell swoop. So it was you and Holly and Harvey and Lori."
Gareth and Holly, teens Harvey and Lori, teens
"When you and Harvey went off to University you seemed to pretty much straighten out in regard to partying and being promiscuous when you started going out with Melanie. You know I think the world of her and did, right from the start. I knew Lori was still with Harvey, but it didn't seem to bother you any more; you seemed to find some peace of mind with Melanie. Meanwhile Melora had confirmed to me that Lori and Harvey were becoming very serious about each other. Talking engagement, maybe right after college."
Gareth and Melanie in college Lori and Harvey in college
Gareth again opened his mouth to speak, whether to deny or confirm, Glenn didn't know, but she stopped him,
"I'm almost done. So after a few months at University you would come back home at the holidays or for breaks and the four of you would go out; Lori and Harvey and you and Melanie. But sometimes, not always, you'd be tense and almost angry when you got home. I could see that, as far as Lori was concerned you were still smitten and jealous. It seemed to ease up the longer you were at school, at least that's what I thought at the time. When you and Melanie became engaged I was sure everything was fine with you two."
She got up and moved to a chair in the living room area and beckoned to Gareth to join her there. Glenn leaned forward and in an unusually soft voice asked,
"Gareth, aren't you happy with Melanie and the baby?"
He sighed heavily and rubbed his big hands over his face, then he looked back at her.
"Mom, I love them so much, I can't even say. I..I don't want to screw everything up or hurt anyone."
"Can you tell me your side of this then--am I wrong? What about Lori? Is she aware of your feelings? Frankly she's always seemed so happy with Harvey. Does Melanie know about any of this?"
"Lori is happy with him. She has no idea whatsoever that I feel this way," he paused, thinking, "Although sometimes lately I get the feeling Harvey has figured it out. I thought I was over her. Long ago. I mean, Harvey is my best friend. I was closer to Trey when we were kids but after college and renting Horrible House together Harvey and I got really tight. It makes me feel so guilty and I don't know why I keep hanging on to this. I guess I didn't even realize I was. Man, I sure hope Melanie has not picked up on my stupidity. But she seems to act the same with Lori, so probably not."
He paused then and sighed as he shook his head,
"It was always Lori, Lori, Lori. You know, I can't even remember not loving her. I thought of her as mine for a long time. When we were kids I was always coming to her rescue. Me. Not Trey. Not Harvey. Me. She was spunky and could take care of herself most of the time, but she had that smart mouth on her. Sometimes she bit off more than she could chew. I even heard her tell off a kid back in grade school, sounding all feisty, 'You listen to me, Eddy Stewart, if you ever hit me or any other girl again, I'll tell Gareth Caswell and he'll punch your lights out!' I would have, too," he smiled a moment, remembering, "I'd have done almost anything for her. She was always looking out for other kids, especially if they were younger. Sometimes I'd think maybe she did care for me. I mean not just as 'good old Gareth, he's like a brother', but as boy. Sometimes instead of buying lunch she'd bring something from home and her mother always sent a piece of her Coca Cola cake or berry pie for dessert. Lori would save half or all of it for me. Back when I had that stamp collection she saved all the stamps from the letters Uncle John got from all over the world and gave them to me every so often. She hardly knew who Harvey was back in those days. I got brave and copped a kiss in the third grade. She giggled and told me I was her hero and then she hauled off and slapped me. Typical."
"Why didn't you ask her to be your girlfriend before she started seeing Harvey?" Glenn was curious, "I mean when you were in middle school."
"I did. When I'd ask her to do something with me she never figured out that's what I was asking. Every time I'd get tongue-tied and say something like, 'Um, want to, like...go to the movies?" she'd say, "Yeah, that sounds good--I'll call everyone.' Then she'd phone all our friends so we could go in a group. I never had a problem talking to girls, believe me, except for Lori. I don't think she was putting me off, though, she was just being a little obtuse. How could I be asking her for a date when she considered me her brother practically? I think she never dreamed I would feel romantic about her, since she didn't feel the same way. She'd known me for so long and never thought of me that way so she assumed the invitation was just a fun suggestion; just an idea of mine so all of the kids could do something together. I was probably pretty lame in the way I asked, I guess. She didn't really date anyone until Harvey. I don't count her stupid crush on that dirty old man Ottomas. Man, what a freak."
Teen Lori Teen Gareth
Teen Harvey Brian O. at 32
Glenn ignored his remark about Brian Ottomas; she knew the man was not and never had been some sort of deviant but it wasn't relevant to the subject and it was obvious Gareth still resented him as well. Brian was not a friend like Harvey was, so he could really enjoy hating him.
He went on,
"Then, when she and Harvey broke up for a while in our senior year, I thought that was my chance. Same thing happened; she just couldn't get that I was asking for a date--and I was afraid if I tried to make it any more clear she'd totally reject me. When I got to know Melanie I thought I could quit thinking of Lori. You know how Lori was all flirty and personality-plus, totally maddening, of course, but never dull. Heck, she flirted and teased Harvey into a frenzy sometimes. He covered it pretty well most of the time, but I knew it was torture for him because he said so to me. He even told me at one point that he was afraid he was going to lose it one day, just haul her off into the bushes. Of course, I would have had to kill him then. But she was so much fun when she wasn't in a snit. Actually, sometimes I even liked to watch her blow up. Man, she was so cute when she'd stamp her foot or tell you off. And when you really know her, when you get past the mood swings and dramatics, you realize how sweet she is, how much she tries to make everyone happy. Of course, she wants you to be happy the way SHE thinks you should be happy, but she doesn't realize that."
He went on,
"Melanie's not Lori--no one is, I guess--but she's beautiful and classy and she's just as funny as Lori, but in a different way. Lori is funny and half the time she doesn't even know it, while Melanie has this very aware dry humor, kind of like Harvey, actually. I have so much respect for her, Mom. She builds me up and believes in me and I love her. I know I'm lucky to have her. Actually out of the three Flynn girls, she's the most dependable, has the most common sense. She's the youngest but they all rely on her. Smart, too, I forget what her I.Q. is but it's up there. Higher than mine, that's for sure. And she's just a wonderful mom to Scarlett. So how do I get rid of this stupid thing in me that still resents that Lori didn't choose me? That can't forget her. Believe me, I never kissed her after that time in the third grade, never even held her hand. She's the only girl who made me lose my confidence, to tell the truth. It's almost like I've loved her for so long that I can't get her out of my system; like she's part of my being now, like she's in my blood. Maybe it's because I know I never will be able to tell her; never have her even recognize how I feel."
"You can conquer this, Gareth. If I can do it, so can you," Glenn said, "Long ago I also fell in love with someone I could never have. I wouldn't have been able to put it in the past without God and putting Him first. I was wild, impetuous and lived life on the edge before that. I'd dumped the bible and the beliefs I was brought up with when I was quite young. I'd been looking for that special someone for quite a while and I was angry about finally finding the person only to have them be unattainable, and for more than one reason."
His jaw dropped in shock; he'd always thought his mother walked alone by choice,
"Was it Remington Goth? I remember when you dated him when I was a kid. Never could really like the guy."
She laughed, "No. Absolutely not. And it doesn't matter who it was. They could never love me and I had to get over that fact."
"But I have to see Lori and Harvey on a regular basis. Not only is Harvey my best friend; Lori is Melanie's best friend."
"I can only tell you I was able to do it; I kept being friends with the person--who never knew--and still got over it. And you have Melanie and your little girl to help you keep your focus."
"Was it sometime back in Charlotte? Or Atlanta?" he couldn't help it; he was totally amazed by this admission from his mother and dying to ask more questions.
"That's not the point."
"But then, you don't see this person anymore, do you?"
"Actually, yes, I do have to do so from time to time and, in my case, I never found anyone I loved as much. But I was able to finally just be a friend. It took time to get to that place and I couldn't have done it without God's help. I don't want you to worry about me being alone; I've come to the conclusion that some of us are just not meant for that kind of happiness, but I have so many other good things in my life, especially you and Melanie and Scarlett."
She reached over and put her hand on his knee,
"Son, how long since you cracked your bible, or went to worship?"
He looked down, visibly uncomfortable,
"Well, you know, Melanie's family, they lived in Hollywood for years. They're not religious in the least. I've actually never heard them refer to the Lord or to any scripture. I think Olivia used to go to church as a kid, but I don't think she ever took her daughters. And forget Errol. He's a good guy and I think a lot of him, but I don't think he even believes in God. I guess before he married Olivia he was wilder than I ever thought of being; believes in just living for yourself and the moment."
"It doesn't matter. You were brought up differently and you know better. Believe me you can do this, but not without help. God will take the sword out of your heart in regard to Lori, but you have to ask for His help. He loves you. But do you love Him? You know that the way you show your love for God is by obeying Him and walking in the light. You can show the way to Melanie. Show her your conviction; go to church without her if you have to, but from what I know of Melanie, she has an open mind. She loves you and if she thinks something is important to you, she will want to find out why. Time will tell. You have an obligation to bring Scarlett up to know God, but how can you do that? You can't ask her to do what you are not willing to do yourself. You have to show your family the way by your own actions, by how you live. You know, maybe the two of you should take a vacation; a little getaway with Melanie that's not a business trip would also help to break tension and get things back in perspective. Will you try turning back to God, try giving this problem to God?"
"I will. I promise, Mom. I know you're right about everything. Actually, it's a relief to tell somebody all of this. Thanks for listening."
She could see that the conversation had made an impression; he had a lot to digest, but he looked less tense already.
She hugged him close.
"Think about changing your job, too. Life is much too short to work at something you hate. I think a good teacher is a blessing to the students they teach. You're needed. And you are great working with children. Melanie will love you no matter what your income. And grow your hair out, will ya?" she rubbed his close-cropped head, "I miss your curly locks."
"You are probably the only mother in the world who wants her son to grow his hair out longer instead of cutting it shorter."
"I want to see you looking relaxed again--inside and out. I want you to be yourself."
"Mom, I love you; I don't tell you enough," Gareth said, suddenly serious, "I want you to know I also admire you."
"You'll make me cry and you know how I hate that," she smiled and blinked rapidly to hold back the tears. She hated to be emotional; it didn't happen often.
After he left Glenn got a call from Melora Lassiter who wanted her to visit. John was on a business trip and Melora asked if, in fact, Glenn could come the next day. Glenn assured her it was no problem. After the call she took time to wash the dishes which she'd sloughed off when she got the chance to talk with Gareth. Then she got ready for bed, stopping to play with Chiquitita and take her out briefly. Even though she'd said nothing dire, Melora had sounded stressed and Glenn wondered what the reason was.
"I guess I'll find out soon enough," she muttered as she turned out the light and went to sleep.
Next blog update: Glenn Caswell Ch. 7 I Know My Boy