My First Love, The End

We had no future. Setting aside that he was married to my grandmother, the age difference alone would be too difficult for him to handle once I matured.

All first loves end sooner or later.  Lorna’s ended when she was 13 and he was in his early 60s.

I didn’t mean to break his heart. For a long time, I didn’t even realize I broke it. Something happened to me when I turned 13–something horrible hormonal.

Up to that point, I was curious about males in a “would-you-be-my-father?” way. Sometime during my 13th year, my curiosity about males shifted. They were still a mystery to me, but a tempting one. I wanted them to notice and like me in a way very different from I wanted Pépé to notice and like me. I started paying attention to boys on TV and in school. I hoped the TV and school boys would notice me, too. It was all quite exciting to contemplate.

Hey, Peter Brady! Yeah, you cutie in the blue shirt. Can you see me? I've got my new big girl bra on under this tee shirt...

My “baby fat” began redistributing itself in very interesting ways. I grew taller, so my once pudgy limbs looked longer and more shapely. My one round belly flattened into two perfectly rounded breasts–regulation cleavage-producing breasts. Combined with my blonde hair and blue eyes, I was a hard-on-producing lovely site for boys at school (the boys on TV apparently had poor reception on their end and couldn’t see me). Upper-classmen started hanging around me. The ones who played on sports teams. I went from Nobody to Some Body.

Still, I was shy and unschooled in the ways of boys, so I kept a safe distance. They must have thought I was playing hard-to-get; I was hard-to-get, but I wasn’t playing.

My attentions at home turned to make-up, clothing, watching romantic TV shows and listening to The Monkeys, the best boy-band then. I didn’t care about the dump or hanging out with Pépé. I didn’t want my freshly washed hair to smell all smokey if a real or TV boy dropped by the trailer. Pépé’s fart jokes seemed juvenile to my maturing sensibilities.  Plus, hanging around with an old man just didn’t look good for my “new” image as a “hotty.”

You can see how this would scare away boys my age, can't you?

I never saw anything bother Pépé. He seemed to take everything in stride. How was I supposed to know he would feel hurt when his trusty side-kick dumped him for younger pickings? I never thought about him being lonely; I was too busy thinking about me finding a new kind of side-kick.

I tried to keep my first “boyfriend” a secret from Pépé and Mémé because I figured they wouldn’t approve. He was a junior and I was a virgin freshman. But how could I hide my dreamy eyes from them? They knew. They’d watch at night when I’d get dropped off at the end of the driveway, never daring to let him drive in or get out of the car under their surveillance. I only dated him for a little while when he quit school to join the Navy–he failed a couple of grades, so I knew he wasn’t the quickest bunny in the forest, but that guy could kiss! I wrote him letters everyday that I put in our mailbox at home. For my birthday that year, Pépé and Mémé gave me a cheap letter opener. They always gave nice gifts. That letter opener was a sinister message from the Grandparent Mob. I’m surprised it didn’t have blood on it.

What he was killed with? Letter opener. Why? He was Lorna's boyfriend. Who ordered the hit? Miffed grandparents.

My relationship with Pépé was never the same. Even when I tried to pal around with him for old time’s sake, he rebuffed me. I thought he was in a bad mood or really didn’t need my help. It wasn’t until years later, when I had a few experiences being dumped or betrayed by people who I thought I could count on “forever,” did I finally realize what I did to my precious Pépé. By then, however, it was too late for either of us. He died at the age of 69 of emphysema.

Pépé didn’t believe in hospitals as places for curing; they were places for dying.  He waited until his symptoms were so bad that he could barely breathe and he had to be hospitalized. Thus, his belief became fact. He died in the hospital. I visited him several times during the month or so he was there. Those visits were hard for both of us, but if I had to say who they were harder on, I’d say it was him. He watched me walk away. I got to walk away.

Yeah, sure. He's fine. I've got things under control. I'm just not sure if he's supposed to take this orally or rectally. Then again, it might be part of that gizmo on the bed that hasn't been working right. Don't worry. He's in great hands here at Lord Have Mercy On Us Hospital.

I was surprised to see the funeral home packed with people at his “calling hours.” Most attendees were relatives and friends of Tina’s and my boyfriends, plus some of my father’s relatives. Maybe a few people Pépé knew. If Fat Dump Guy came, I’ve blocked it from my memory. Mémé insisted on an open casket, something I wish she hadn’t. My last memory of my first love is him–this man who loved to laugh and talk with anybody who would spend time with him–with his jaw wired shut, lying stock-still in the corner of a room full of people laughing and talking. The irony of it lingers and weighs heavy on my heart.

His funeral was a much smaller affair–just immediate family. The day was cloudless and unusually still. As the women in his life were standing in a semi-circle around the hole in the ground with his coffin still exposed, and while the priest was reciting his incantations, a strong wind nearly blew us over. Mémé had to hang on to her hat to keep it from blowing off; the priest stopped and held the pages of his Bible. As quickly as the gust of wind materialized, it disappeared and all was still again. We all looked at each other and silently verified that, yes, we all felt it.

Yes, I know this picture is kind of creepy, but you should have been at that grave site. Talk about creepy...

Maybe Pépé got his say…

Lorna’s relationship with Pépé dissolved but her bond with Mémé improved exponentially.

~ by Lorna's Voice on February 15, 2012.

35 Responses to “My First Love, The End”

  1. Sad ending to a wonderful experience with your Grandfather. What a nice man and how lucky your to have experienced his kindness.

  2. I’m pretty sure you’re right, too. We’ll confirm when we’re on the other side!

  3. Thanks, Elyse. I loved writing about my first love. I suppose who wouldn’t, right? But he was a special first love…

  4. Lovely, lovely, lovely. So sweet and grow-ing up all a the same time. RIP, Pepe.

  5. I don’t believe we take resentment and hurt with us when we pass–those left behind have more trouble letting go. Obviously, this isn’t something I can prove, but I’m pretty sure I’m right!

  6. Whew! You had me worried, Girlfriend! 😉

  7. LOL LOL No obligation. NO RULES. Accept and post on your page. Share or not. No obligation. But you do deserve the recognition so that was my motivating factor 🙂

  8. Thanks so much. He was a remarkable man–though I seemed to be the only one who recognized it for a short while.

    Glad you stopped in and commented! 🙂

  9. Thanks, Jeanna. I cried when I wrote about his funeral. I guess my heart is still tied to this man who my family overlooked.

  10. It always amazes me how you make me laugh with tears of saddness in my eyes. You are so very fantastic at that. You can drive home the point of how upsetting something is, but then you have this upbeat way of making your reader relate, and understand…and then smile. As always Lorna, loved it.

  11. Remarkable storytelling 🙂

  12. A high compliment. Thanks so much. 🙂

  13. Yes, or trying to blow Meme’s hat off!

  14. You didn’t. Please tell me you didn’t…

  15. I have few regrets in life, but I wish I had broken things off with him more slowly and gently. I realize now that he didn’t have much to look forward to other than out Saturday adventures…

  16. I don’t know about the Andy Kaufman act, but I can search for it. Thanks! Sounds like you have a story to tell about your grandfather… 🙂

  17. Yes, that gust of wind was a message. I remember how much Meme hated wind… He was such a prankster! 🙂

  18. Thanks. I loved writing these stories about this remarkable man who kind of slipped through life unnoticed.

  19. Moving, loving, honest. So glad you have the good memories, he sounds like someone we all would have liked to know. Excellent post!

  20. An endearing tribute to your dear Pepe. Your writing on this ending is very descriptive of how things are always changing and yet sometimes we don’t even notice. The changes affect everyone involved differently. Perhaps, he wasn’t disappointed in the ending of the relationship so much as disappointed in knwoing that you were now going to be in a world that he could not be a part of. He was giving you the freedom to go and do what was the natural evolution of your years. Sadly this happens all the time. In some cases there is the BIG teen rebellion towards parents. Your was a gradual – less time spent with Pepe – kind. May he rest in peace …!!!!

    The gust of wind – a message from Pepe, ” I was here: never noticed and forlon. Now, I am gone. You will miss me”.

    Blessings dear friend,
    Izzy xoxo

  21. I had a similar relationship with my grandfather. Instead of the dump, we bonded over the dog and fishing. Am glad we both love Mighty Mouse. Do you remember Andy Kaufman’s act when he played the Mighty Mouse theme song? That’s how I sing it today and also remember my grandpa because he too liked Mighty Mouse.

  22. Oh, poor, dear Pepe…gosh he really took it hard when you lost interest in hanging out…very sad. I agree though, I think he made himself known at his funeral…good for him. 🙂

  23. Another good shenanigan, thank you, nominated you for five (maybe 6) awards on my page today 🙂

  24. OMG the first picture had me cracking up. I really enjoyed this trip back in time. When the wind kicked up it was Pepe saying goodbye with his final breath. He was now free.

  25. Again we see your strength, Lorna. You put me right there. I’ve forgotten the quote about wisdom, but on this experience and reflection shines in your post.

  26. Thanks, Patrick. It’s comments like these that make me feel like all the hard work of editing ahead of me is well worth it. I think this books wants to get out there and will bring something of value to readers’ lives.

    Personally, I think the letter opener was my grandmother’s idea. 🙂

  27. I love your writing style. I got lost in the story as you pulled me along to the conclussion. I went back and read everything from the begining. I like to think of myself as a big tough man, but I started to get a little misty eyed at the end. I actually believe that if Pepe were here today, I could be his friend. I don’t think Pepe rebuffed you. I think maybe he did you a favor by letting you go. He probably knew it was time for you to move on in life. I guarantee that to the very end he kept all the wonderful memories you had together, deep inside. Even near the end he probably laughed to himself when he thought of you trying to throw the beer bottles out the window, and splashing them on yourself. Memories are one of the things I always treasure. I’m sure you do to.Great job. I hope the book is going well.

  28. So you really can identify with Pepe… I cried when I wrote about his funeral. I still hurt a little for him. I wish I hadn’t been so boy-crazy and stayed–for just a little longer–Pepe-crazy.

  29. Thanks for the comments. They help as I prepare to edit all of these stories into my book.

  30. I found that extremely well written. I was almost there. I remember when I saw my mother in the open casket. I walked down the aisle and right out the side exit.

    I totally agree with Pépé about hospitals. People go there to die.

    Not the quickest bunny in the forest. Like that one.

  31. Loved your Pepe stories, Lorna. Of course I did, I’m the grandfather of two girls. The oldest is 13 now and I see everything you’ve talked about with her. The closeness is waning and I’m at the “letting go stage”. The 8 year-old is still “Poppy’s” girlfriend so that cushions the blow some. However, I may not talk so bravely when she starts into adolescence.

    This is a bittersweet story that just flat zeros in on what life is all about, as told by a wonderful writer. I hurt a little for Pepe, though.

  32. You’re not in trouble, Phil. I understand what you’re saying. And I appreciate you for saying it. I was a self-absorbed teen (redundant, huh?). Only with time and reflection that comes with EXPERIENCE could I appreciate his feelings. That’s what you meant, right? 😉

    Letting go is one of the hardest things for people to do (whether it’s letting go of material possessions or relationships or a preconceived notion). Pepe had a hard time letting me go because I was the cream in his cup-o-Joe.

    I hope that big gust of wind wasn’t meant to blow me into the grave with him. No, he wasn’t vindictive, just hurt… 😉

  33. With Meme, it was never as close and dear, but I have a few nice memories to share. She wasn’t so mean after all…

  34. Adolescence and star gazing will definitely lift one’s feet off the ground and make the the heart go flitter flutter. Just natural. But those sweet memories, you’ll always have and I suspect there are even more with Meme?

  35. Farewell dear Pépé. We hardly knew ye.

    It is often said that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference. Hate fans the same passions as love does, but to one who loves, the gradual indifference of a loved one can be far more cruel. I am not implying you were cruel at all Lorna, for the kind of “love” and its accompanying loss you speak of is more a loss of your innocence than your love for Pépé. Perfectly normal for a child to outgrow as he or she matures into an adolescent and ultimately into adulthood. It is so much more difficult, however, for the adult to let go of that loss of innocence. And it cannot be truly understood through the eyes of the younger one until much later in life. This is the kind of story you can only tell at this stage of your life. (Er… um… oh boy – that didn’t sound right. Um… I mean at this stage – a woman in her mid-thirties??? Oy, I’m in trouble.)

    Again, I think you struck the right tone overall, and when this kind of narrative makes it to a printed page without the comic-relief pictures, I still believe the words will have that same tender, poignant, bittersweet flavor. You are very good at writing in reflective mode.

    p.s. The wind thing on a clear day – spooky!

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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