And the Walls Come Down

garbins pose in their Easter finest.
The Garbin family poses in their Easter finest in front of the new house in 1965.

People have responded with overwhelming support since my last post, and I’m most grateful. Since going public, more information has come to the fore thanks to further inquiries by my sisters and cousin. To say that this comes as a shock probably understates my feelings. Consider my world rocked.

I continue to sort through still more revelations, and hope to get several bits of information verified, but suffice to say, I’ve learned that they paint a pretty miserable picture of my parents’ marriage — one even worse than my mother described.

She was trapped in an untenable situation. She came of age in an era where women got married and had babies. She married a cold, non-communicative husband in the Catholic church which took a dim view of divorce. She had an extremely moralistic, patriarchal brother who spent time in seminary. Her hometown could have adopted the song “Town Without Pity” as its unofficial anthem. She had kids in tow and never enough money. It must have been one of the most miserable periods of her life. My sisters and I could consider ourselves lucky she didn’t leave first!

None of this changes my regard for my mother. She fought for us, and struggled mightily to provide as best she could. However, she often said that if she was born twenty years later, she would have never married. Born twenty years later, I can see Mom in the front row at Woodstock.

The secrecy slices another facet of this story. No one said anything until my sisters and I finally started asking a few questions. It feels now like the floodgates have burst open. How much did people know? In a small town like Three Rivers, Massachusetts with its tight-knit French-Canadian community, everyone knew everyone’s business, and yet my sisters and I knew nothing for more than fifty years.

Right now, if you told me my mother spied for the KGB, I’d shrug my shoulders and ask, “What else ya got?”