Last week I introduced you to Lilia Swallow, one of three important women in The Swallow’s Nest.
This week meet Marina Tate, whose path crosses Lilia’s in a wholly unexpected way. Here’s a peek into a complicated woman with complicated decisions to make and make up for.
My name is Marina Tate. Tate is my mother’s maiden name. My two younger brothers have different last names, although it’s doubtful Deedee was ever married to their fathers.
Deedee is loose on details like marriage vows, and looser still on the name of the man who fathered me. When I turned four the man I called Daddy demanded a paternity test after Deedee asked for child support. Once the results came back he disappeared for good, and by then Deedee swore she couldn’t remember who else she’d slept with the month I was conceived.
For most women, this would just be a convenient lie, but anyone who’s met Deedee knows it’s entirely possible. Deedee’s happy-go-lucky vision of the world depends on never looking backward. Whether my father’s identity is a memory lapse or a lie she’s trained herself to believe, I’ll never know his name.
Considering the kind of men Deedee’s attracted to, this probably isn’t a bad thing.
With a start like that, nobody expected much of me. I surprised them anyway. Sometimes the best way to aim a child toward success is to give her an up close and personal view of what happens to people who fail. I took stock of my mother’s life and knew I didn’t want one like it. I had lots of time to take stock because while Deedee worked two jobs, barely earning enough to keep food on the table, I was in charge of my brothers and all the household chores.
No surprise that I could hardly wait to leave.
I put myself through college in marketing, got my degree and moved to L.A., where I planned to stay forever. I got a great job, had my pick of men, and was making headway on a bright future when Deedee suffered a heart attack. No one else was available to take care of things at home and support her while she recovered. And despite everything, she’s my mother.
For a while, I believed that as soon as things settled down at Deedee’s, I would move back to L.A and continue living my dream. In the meantime I took a job as an outside sales rep for a building supplies company, rented a condo ten times nicer than anything I’d lived in as a child, and looked for a man whose company I enjoyed.
I never expected to fall in love with somebody like Graham Randolph. I especially never expected to fall in love with a married man. After having watched Deedee find and lose lovers on a monthly basis, I knew, I knew exactly what to avoid. Men will say almost anything to get into a woman’s bed. They’ll claim they’re unhappy at home and considering divorce, but in the end they go back to their sweet little wives, and their lover will have nothing to show for the affair except heartache.
Only this time? I did have something to show for our hours together. In a moment of enormous weakness, I allowed Graham Randolph to impregnate me. I foolishly believed a baby would convince him to leave his wife, Lilia, and start a new life with me and the son or daughter he wanted so desperately. In Graham I saw everything I’d never had. He was wealthy, handsome, kind. I didn’t ask myself why he was so desperate. And later, when I learned the truth, the time was much too late for questions.
Graham didn’t leave Lilia. It was worse than that. But by then, I had a baby growing inside me and a man who swore that he would support us forever. After all, he was the son of a billionaire, and Toby was the family’s only heir.
I believed him.
I gave birth alone, and once we came home from the hospital, our baby son screamed for hours unending. In the end, when Toby was three months old, I made the choice that was guaranteed to hurt Graham the most, while at the same time giving me a new start for my future.
Only nothing ever turns out the way we plan it. If I’ve learned anything from this? That’s it. When did the decision to give my son away begin to haunt me? Was it the day Graham’s mother Ellen asked for my help? Was it the first time I glimpsed Toby as a toddler? I still don’t know. I only know that now, that decision will haunt me forever.