He always started such stories by telling me that he didn’t want to say anything bad about my mother — but then he would proceed to tell a story designed to make her look bad.
When I was a child, he seemed to see their children both as pawns of their arguments and also the prizes of the game. He was terrified of her winning custody of us, so he subtly poisoned our attitudes about Mother, all the while pretending to be sympathetic to her.
His stories about their college years centered around the narrative that she was incompetent and that everyone knew it. He implied that he was the respected one and that people laughed at her.
I grew up with their college yearbooks on our bookshelves, so I looked at them many times. But one of my sisters ended up with those books and I haven’t seen them for many years.
Last night, I discovered that Jacksonville State University has all of its yearbooks online, so I downloaded the books from the years both of my parents were there. I quickly found myself re-evaluating my narrative about my mother — once again.