In college, I majored in religion and in psychology. I found the subjects equally fascinating. With psychology, I was particularly intrigued by abnormal psychology — the study of why some of us, either occasionally or consistently, act outside the bounds of socially accepted behavior. As with any typical psych major, my family was the primary group on whom I applied my new found education.
Mama was in a fragile state for much of my college years. Her life fell apart when my stepfather disappeared with their 5 year old son, my half-brother. He picked David up from daycare and kept going. Mama also lost her job at a local hotel. She moved in with her parents (Grandmama and Granddaddy to me) in their double-wide trailer. Grandmama was very sick from decades of cigarette smoking and was not expected to live much longer. Granddaddy was a disabled WWII veteran. These were, needless to say, very dark days.
Psychology was useful for me in understanding my dysfunctional family, but Mama did not take well to any psychological analysis. Nonetheless, to her credit, Mama pulled herself through the nightmare, relying in large part on the strength she found in her conservative religious beliefs.
Mama was determined to find my brother and to bring him home. She became a sleuth, sometimes wearing disguises to get the information she needed. Mama finally found David in Pensacola, Florida, where she and my stepfather had met. She brought David home, just in time to see Grandmama before she died. Mama soon found a new job and a new man, whom she later married.
I remember talking to Mama on the phone one night. I told her that none of my friends in college had parents who were divorced. “None?” she asked in disbelief. “None,” I confirmed. I was abnormal.