Friday, January 24, 2014

No. 132 – Gone

Performer: U2
Songwriters: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.
Original Release: Pop
Year: 1997
Definitive Version: Popmart: Live from Mexico City, 1998.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Pop when it arrived. Staring at the Sun was interesting, but nothing else jumped out at me, as I told Debbie—who hadn’t heard any of the album before the concert—before we saw them at Ohio Stadium in 1997. Then they went into this song, and I said, “Oh yeah. I forgot about this one. This is a good song.”

At the end of the concert, Scott motioned for Debbie and me to come down to where he was with Shani on the field. It turns out Erin, Beth’s sister, was about two rows behind where he and Shani sat. We sat close to her at Genesis five years earlier, so maybe there was something about Horseshoe shows.

Anyway, after Beth and I broke up a decade before, I maintained contact with her family, mostly her mother. It was sporadic until Beth’s dad died suddenly in January 1994. After I moved back to Columbus later that year, it became more regular.

Beth’s mom, Mrs. Mac, still worked at the same dry-cleaning business that she had while Beth and I dated. It was fairly close to where Mom lived, so it was easy to swing by and say hi. I’d go and visit Mrs. Mac and see how she was doing every so often. It was regular but it wasn’t all that frequent.

One time Erin was there. I hadn’t seen her in many years, and she looked a lot different, more like her sister, because she’d let her hair grow long. It always had been short while Beth and I dated, and she looked good that way. By the time of the U2 concert, it was short again.

It had been several years since I’d seen Erin. Even though we all were with dates, it wasn’t awkward. Debbie certainly knew about Beth. In fact, she met her long before Debbie and I became an item. But the U2 concert was the last time I saw Erin.

Not long after that show, I stopped seeing Mrs. Mac, too. When I visited, I always kept her up to speed on how I was doing with my job and now my new house, and she did the same, including Beth and her grandson, whom she loved dearly (as most grandparents do). One day, I took Debbie to meet Mrs. Mac.

This was important to me, because in many ways, Mrs. Mac was a surrogate mother to me as Mom withdrew more into her alcoholism. The meeting with Debbie was fine, but soon after, Mrs. Mac stopped maintaining contact.

She first sold the home that she and her husband raised Beth and Erin. Then she left the dry cleaners, so I didn’t have a natural (and neutral) place to visit. I sent Mrs. Mac a Christmas card for a few years, but I never heard back, and eventually I stopped. I haven’t heard from her now in almost as long as I knew her.

I always assumed that the contact stopped because Mrs. Mac met Debbie. After she saw I was with being taken care of, she decided it was time to cut ties and move on. But now I wonder whether she enjoyed seeing me at all. It’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that my visits—during which she never made me feel anything less than welcome—were unwanted.

That would be too bad if that were true. Whatever happened between me and Beth, I never had bad feelings for anyone in Beth’s family. Forgive me if I’ve said this already, but they welcomed me at a time when I needed it, and I’ll never forget that nor stop appreciating it.

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