She threatened to divorce him once when Jonathan was three. She wanted to
go back to Boston, to her friends, to a place where everyone spoke English.
He said that she could go whenever she wanted to but that the children stayed
with him. He said this coolly without even raising his voice. She was much
less emotional after that. It was as if that part of her was put away. She
became much more compliant than even my father had expected her to be. Perhaps
the only time she showed excessive ridicule or anger was towards her own
son, Benjamin. It was towards him that her mood swings manifested themselves.
At times she would hold him so tight that he would begin to cough and cry.
At other times, she would accuse him of being stupid, overweight, difficult.
It was strange seeing her use my father's words. They both drank a bit.
He used to drink a little bit more than she did. Now she drank a little
bit more than he did. The second time she got pregnant, she got an abortion.
My father never knew this. I don't think that my brother does either. The
third time she got pregnant, it was a daughter. The fourth time was an accident,
a baby boy. I think we named it Christopher. I already told you she and
the baby were killed in a car accident. Jonathan, Demeter and I were at
home watching the television. Actually, Jonathan had fallen asleep on the
couch and Demeter had gone to bed. I, alone, was watching television.
Jonathan loved the baby; in fact, I used to think that he was a small mother.
It was he who changed her diapers, fed her, woke in the night. It was he
who stayed by her almost every waking hour. He never grew tired of her.
Later on, he would never let anyone touch her: not at school, not at home.
No one ever laid a finger on Demeter. Except my father, once or twice. But
that was after Jonathan had been sent off to school. She was utterly different
from anyone else in our family. She went to a community college, then nursing
school. After that, she got married and had two children. As she went along
in life, she became more and more polite and distant, writing less, not
visiting at all. One day, after talking to her, I realized that she really
had no great feeling for either me or our father. In fact, I realized that
it was a thinly veiled irritation. She wanted to be free of all of us except
Jonathan. Only Jonathan was family. We were just strangers to her.