Thomas Wictor

That which was lost has been found

That which was lost has been found

In 1975, when we moved from Tyler, Texas, to Rijswijk, the Netherlands, we had to put much of our furniture and possessions in storage. Most of the rental homes in the Netherlands were furnished. We rented a storage facility, had our things packed up, and flew off to Holland.

When we moved to Stavanger, Norway, in 1978, we contacted the warehouse in Tyler and discovered that there had been a flood. Our things had sat in water for two years. The storage company replaced the furniture, but among the things lost was Mom and Dad’s wedding album.

Well, in fact it wasn’t lost. I just found it a few days ago, packed away in a box within a box within a box.

Mom and Dad were married May 30, 1959. They became engaged three weeks after they went on their first date. Mom told me that on this date, she suddenly knew that she’d marry my father and spend the rest of her life with him. The knowledge scared her.

Since my parents died, I’ve discovered much more about them than I knew when they were alive. One of the many tragedies of my family is the lack of communication. Neither of my parents were allowed to speak their minds as children; Mom was told that good girls don’t make trouble, and Dad was changed from a sensitive baby to a man in a suit of steel armor.

I now realize why my parents had their problems. The photos I’ve studied and the letters and journals I’ve read since they died have filled in the blanks. Though Mom and Dad will remain mysteries, they’re not as profoundly mysterious as they were a few weeks ago.

Yesterday a former ghost told me what Mom had said to her about why my parents never divorced. I can’t share it because Mom didn’t tell me herself; as far as I know Mom told only my former ghost. But it’s in keeping with Mom’s character. Mom’s reason was another form of rebellion. I know perfectly well why my father didn’t follow through with his request for a divorce. Life with his office manager would’ve been profoundly different than life with Mom.

Today Eric told Tim and me that the worst thing he learned since the deaths of Mom and Dad was the way that a certain set of relatives treated CeeCee. We’ve filled him in on a lot of our troubles. It’s the measure of the man Eric is that what angers him the most is how his second mother was targeted because the attackers knew Mom couldn’t respond in kind.

Here’s something I thought I’d never publicize, but what the hell. This is for you, Eric.

While Dad lay dying in his bedroom, raving and fighting off demons, someone called Mom and asked how she was doing. Mom being Mom, she said, “We’re holding up.”

For whatever reason the caller chose that particular moment to scold my mother for not showing enough emotion about her husband’s impending demise and Mom’s own cancer. The caller was tired of Mom’s “empty platitudes.” This person habitually speaks so loudly that I could hear every word from where I sat.

Though I thought the top of my head was about to pop off, the saving grace was that for the only time in my life, I witnessed my mother slip on a pair of brass knuckles and beat someone absolutely senseless. She was magnificent.

Without raising her voice, what she did was impeach the caller.

“Explain to me what you mean by ’empty platitudes.’ Really? So the fact that I’m not sobbing to you means that I’m feeling nothing? Excuse me. Excuse me! I asked you a question. Are you going to answer me? Well, if you stop acting like you’re five years old, I’ll stop treating you like you’re five years old. Who are you to tell me how to express my emotions? Wait: You’re feeling excluded? Do you not understand what you just said to me? You’re telling me that the death of my husband and my cancer are about you. You’ll pardon me if I don’t agree.”

And so on. She butchered the caller until the caller surrendered and meekly apologized. When Mom hung up, I applauded her.

She laughed and said, “I have no idea where that came from.”

I do. From your soul, Mom. You were demure and butch. No wonder Dad went gaga over you.

After my siblings attended Mom’s burial today, we spent time looking at the wedding album. These are some of my favorite photos.

Edward Wictor and his best man, his brother Kenneth Wictor.

Cecilia Lower in her parents’ living room.

Edward and Cecilia Wictor feeding each other wedding cake.

Edward and Cecilia Wictor about to leave on their honeymoon.

Mom smiled easily. I made her laugh every chance I got. In my whole life, I saw Dad smile with genuine happiness only a handful of times.

Now we know there was one day in which he couldn’t contain his joy.

The joy that we thought lost has been found.

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