My sisters and I were a year apart in descending order, I was the eldest at eight (8) when my mother introduced us to her boyfriend. His name was James Logan or Jim as he preferred to be called, and I should have known something was up when I noticed a change in my mother’s personality, she was more giggly of recent and had a whole new attitude. My mother was married.
My sisters didn’t like the idea of this man in our mother’s life, it seemed even as young as they were they understood that something unethical was happening. It was fair, the behavior and the attitude they were projecting, after all it was their father our mother was cheating on. Though at the moment of introduction there were no unusual or out of order things taking place, they still felt this man was a definite intrusion into our lives, I on the other hand found him funny, handsome, charming and very neat looking. He was polite, and kind to us and always smiled and said nice things that made my mother smile, so I guess he was a good guy.
I’m only looking at this thing some 40 to 50 years in retrospect, but I tell you now I remember as clear as day, what was going on. I think the reason I liked Jim or preferred him over my stepfather was because Jim was everything my stepfather was not; slim, handsome, nice dresser, fancy car, gold watch, wore suits all the time while my stepfather who was everything the opposite wore coveralls. Jim was flashy and flamboyant, and above all he was a smooth talker, good with the women and seemed to naturally know exactly what it was they wanted. Now a man like this was someone a young kid like me just had to emulate.
After a few weeks my mother no longer included my sisters, instead it was just her, Jim and me, we were a happy artificial family. I was proud to be with Jim, maybe he was the father I no longer had, a perfect imitation of a scenario that I so deeply longed for. I memorized the things he said, somehow his “Phraseology,” was poetry and I could see in retrospect how my mother, and probably other’s, had fallen for him.
One day only after a few months of knowing Jim, the FBI came to our house to ask my mother some questions. It was during this investigation that my stepfather found out about the relationship, (strangely enough all three of them worked at the same hospital). I don’t remember feeling or thinking anything bad about the situation, probably at that time in my life I hadn’t yet been infiltrated with things like judgement. We all soon discovered that Jim had a brother named John and it was John they were actually investigating about a bank robbery in Detroit. I don’t remember my stepfather getting angry about her and Jim, they even spoke congenially; he and Jim, it was as if my stepfather was being cool and playing the waiting game; waiting for her and Jim to find reason to break it off and they did many years later.
I grew up and still continued to see Jim even though he and my mother were no longer an item; he and I were friends now only in a different sense. Jim had gotten older, and was living in a studio apartment in Oakland, California just 12 miles from our home in Richmond. The apartment he was living in was part of a building that was owned by Jim’s new girlfriend. He was the maintenance man for the building and had traded his flamboyant appearance for one similar to my stepfather, only my stepfather owned his own home, Jim did not, and my stepfather married my mom and took care of me equal to his blood children, Jim did not, my stepfather kept dropping hints about character, integrity and the value of honesty and commitment, Jim did not. I came to see later in life that the values Jim stood for represented one segment of life; his, while my stepfather’s values represented all of man kind. As children we are easily influenced by a steady stream of information coming in to us from friends of friends and family, adults, teachers and just the general presentation of life altogether. If we are to see a better person of someone, then ourselves must be better. I’m glad I had the experience of Jim for it showed me in the long run, though I was close to becoming him, that his values did not match the values of who I am or who I wanted to be. Jim died in his fifties, he left nothing but memories to the people in his life.