Alexa B-Side: #14 - Charlotte
Charlotte openly wept as she read the article and looked at the picture of her daughter for the first time. Her daughter. Words Charlotte never thought she would say in her life. But there in black and white was a picture of Alex, now Alexa, smiling like Charlotte had never seen. He, now she, was happy. Happier than she had ever been in her life and at her side was the same young girl that Charlotte had met before. Shame took over Charlotte as she thought she had failed as a parent as she learned of the torment Alexa had gone through. When Dick had asked her what the problems was, she lost it. She lost it like she never had before in her life. And Dick could not, would not deal with it and stormed out of the house.
As she watched her husband speed out of the driveway, the conflict began. She loved her husband even though he could be an insensitive asshole at times. Sure, he put up the tough manly exterior, but he could be a very loving caring husband. She remembered back to the early days, when they were in love. He could be very sweet, buying her little gifts, taking her out to fancy dinners. When Adam was born, he was excited to be a father. He changed the diapers and tried to help with the feedings. The helping and the loving lessened two years later when Danny arrived and by the time Alex came around, he was all but gone. He had begun devoting his free time to hunting, fishing, bowling etc., etc. Sure, there were times when the man who swept her off her feet would return, but it was just glimpses. But he wasn’t completely to blame. She didn’t help either. As time went along and the boys got older, she went back to work. She basically let the boys raise themselves. If any of them took the brunt of these family changes, it was Alex.
But what about now? Was her ‘abandonment’ of her youngest the reason he had turned out the way he had? Had she rejected him or had he rejected her? The choice he had made was wrong by the way she was raised and he was raised. She could understand her husband’s reaction to this whole thing. The Quinn’s had raised their sons in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. It’s not like the Quinn’s were brainwashed, but they were church going people and had been raised in the Catholic faith. A faith that had very strong teachings on homosexuality and gender. And Dick was a firm believer in those teachings. He had very strong beliefs in homosexuality and was not one to shy away from those. He had been known to openly mock men who were less than manly, including his own son. And Charlotte did nothing. She held out hope that maybe the bookworm who would rather play video games then go outside would change. He was a boy, and boys went fishing and hunting and raised hell. Not sit and learn to cook. Her job was to make sure their clothes were clean, meals were prepared and the first aid kit was ready. That was the way she was raised and that was the way she cared for the men in her family.
But was that the way to raise children in today’s world? She had been raised with 5 television channels, and phones with cords. The world had moved on but they had not. Now they had nearly 500 TV channels and the only phone with a chord on it sat in the bedroom. But they had not changed. And that was where the guilt had started to creep in to the back of her mind. Had she allowed Dick to be too hard on Alex? Was there something that as a mother she had missed? That is why seeing the picture hit her so hard. Alex had never been what you would call a happy child. Maybe that was because his feelings of wanting to change or maybe it was Dick’s harsh treatment. Either way the young girl who appeared in the newspaper was happy. Happier than Charlotte had ever seen her own child. As a mother that is all she really asked for. That her children be happy. At times, she felt like she had failed Alex. But now as she looked at the picture she saw it. It made her yearn to pull him in hold like when he was little. Before Dick had gotten his claws into him.
And Dick, what was she supposed to do with him? He had disowned Alex at Christmas when he had found him in a dress. He had come home that evening and ordered Charlotte to have no contact with Alex, that he was no longer part of the family. Charlotte had been prepared for her husband, having talked to Alex’s friend Katie immediately after Dick had left, but she wasn’t prepared for his anger. She thought the hour drive would calm him but it hadn’t. He was furious. She feared him as he went on about Alex. She was hoping that he would calm down, but he hadn’t. He would just sneer at the picture of Alex that hung on the wall of the Family room. And as the days went by she wanted to yell he was wrong. That this was their child and they need to support him. But she knew he wouldn’t, couldn’t. She would try and bring the family together. But it felt like she was going to have to choose.
Unfortunately, she was not able to make that choice. Later that day, as she was still racking her brain to find a way to make the family whole again the doorbell rang. When she went to the door, she knew that the choice had been made. Standing there was the sheriff and Father Paul. They broke the news of Dick’s passing. His truck had been found wrapped around a tree out by Cedar Lake. His head had been smashed against the windshield, the steering wheel had been crushed against his torso. “He was probably dinking.” Sherriff Young said. He explained that they had gone out to his Ice House and found several empty beer cans. Father Paul led Charlotte to the living room and comforted her. Soon Danny arrived, followed closely by Adam to comfort their mother. And as appreciative as she was of the support, she kept looking at the door waiting for her youngest to come rushing through the door. But it was not to be. He had to know, but she also knew that he had hung up on her the last time she had tried to call. So, she called Katie to relay the news. It was not the perfect way, but it was the best way.
That night, Charlotte tried to act as normal as possible, even though her heart ached. She had lost her youngest child and then lost her husband. But the act of normalcy was just an act. She just roamed the house clueless looking for answers. She tried to busy herself watching the news that had been turned on as various family members roamed her house trying to help her get over the loss of her husband. And then it started. The news report and she saw Alex. No, not Alex but Alexa. She was even more beautiful than the picture in the paper. She was confident and well-spoken during the interview, but most of all she was happy. At that moment, the decision she had told herself had been made for her by her husband’s death was made for real. Alexa was part of this family and she would do anything to bring her back. She texted her daughter immediately. Asking her to call. And she had. Adam answered the phone and berated Alexa like her father had. After yelling at Adam, Charlotte called her back. Alexa was almost combative in the phone call and left Charlotte in tears. Charlotte cried herself to sleep that night. However, the next few days the two talked and progress was made, or so Charlotte thought.
On Thursday, Charlotte stood in her pew as Father Paul finished the mass. It had been a hard few days for her. The final report had come out. Dick was drunk at the time of his accident. She thanked the lord that he had not hurt anyone by his foolishness. She felt the comfort of her extended family and Dick’s friend but there was one thing missing. Alexa had refused to show up at the funeral. She wanted nothing to do with the man who had been so cruel to her for most of her life, and deep down Charlotte did not blame her. But Charlotte wanted her whole family here with her. Family is what helped you get through these times. Sure, her other two sons were here but there was still a huge void. As the pallbearers came forward to carry the casket to the hearse, Charlotte took one last deep breath as her middle son Danny took her arm and escorted her back up the aisle. Charlotte had held it together pretty well, only breaking down once during the service. But now she needed Danny as she followed her husband to his final reward. As Charlotte walked down the aisle, she happened to glance up at the choir loft. In the shadows, she thought she saw three figures standing there. Her heart leapt a bit as she thought it may be Alexa. Maybe she did come after all! But those dreams were dashed at the cemetery. Following the limousine ride to the cemetery, Charlotte could not stop scanning the faces that were there, but she never found Alexa. Her heart sank.
The funeral party returned to the parish hall, where as was typical, the older women of the church served their luncheon for the mourners. The ham and turkey sandwiches were on their trays and the infamous ‘funeral hot dish’ sat warming in the large roaster. Various salads had been made for the meal as well as the pies the ‘Funeral Ladies’ had become almost famous for. Charlotte picked at a sandwich and some Seven-layer salad but had no appetite. Her emotions of the last few days had played havoc with it, but she knew she must try. She greeted several well-wishers who had come to pay their last respects. They had told her they were sorry for her loss. They told her amusing and personal stories of times each had spent with her husband. Through it all Charlotte just grinned and thanked them. However, her mind was not there. Her mind was scanning the room searching, hoping for the one person who she hoped would be there but was not. Soon the trays were removed and the hot dish was put away. Danny came up to her and said that they should head back to the house. Charlotte’s oldest son Adam and his girlfriend had already headed back to prepare everything for the streams of family and well-wishers that undoubtedly would come by. Danny had been a rock for Charlotte throughout this process. The recently single 24-year-old young man had been at his mother’s side since Sunday. Making sure she was taking care of herself and doing whatever little tasks that needed to be doing. She smiled up at Danny and nodded. As she got up she gave Danny a big hug and thanked him.
‘Thank me. For what?” Danny asked.
“You have been such a great help Danny. I don’t know that I could have gotten through all this without you.” Charlotte said as she gave him a kiss on the cheek. Danny stood there embarrassed but he knew what his mom was saying and appreciated it, but he still had a reputation to uphold so he gently chided his mother “Aw, knock it off ma! It’s a son’s job to do these things.” The two put on their coats and headed to the minivan parked in the church parking lot for the drive back out to the Quinn house. As they were getting ready to pull out, Charlotte asked Danny to drive by the cemetery. Danny questioned his mother, because it was the opposite direction of the house, but Charlotte stood firm and told him to drive that way. Charlotte had hope, she had hope that she would find her youngest child there. She knew he, she, always had felt a sense of obligation and Charlotte hoped that that hose sense had taken over.
As the minivan approached the cemetery, Charlotte spotted three women standing at the grave site. Her heart soared. “Pull in!” She yelled at her middle child.
“What? Why?” Danny asked.
“Daniel Timothy Quinn! Pull in right now dammit!” Charlotte yelled. A shocked Danny pulled the minivan into the narrow driveway of the cemetery and watch as his mother practically jumped out of the van and walked to the three figures standing at his father’s grave. Charlotte was going through a million emotions all at once as she approached. The sadness of her husband’s death was being erased as she thought, no she knew, that the daughter she never had until now was here. She was scared that daughter would reject her. She was nervous as to what to say but mostly she was excited by the prospect of holding her youngest child once again. As she approached the three, she could hear both crying and laughter. None of the three turned around as she stopped just a few feet away. In a hushed voice, Charlotte said one name, a name she would use for the first time.
The three girls turned around and the dark harried one in the middle instantly rushed towards Charlotte and enveloped her in a tight hug. At that moment, Charlotte knew she was never going to lose this child again. She might not completely understand what Alexa was going through. She might not completely agree with the life her youngest child had chosen but she knew that this was her child and was never going to let her go. She would learn about gender dysphoria and the feelings of her child. She would fight for her daughter the rest of her life. Her daughter! What a wonderful feeling to say those words.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.