During WW2, parents with boys overseas fighting dreaded seeing a Western Union messenger coming up the walkway. It almost always meant that their son had been killed in action or was missing in action and their first notice of this was a telegram from the war department. "We regret to inform you…"
In my precarious situation where my three sons were turned against me as minors by predatory adults (you know who you are) in a classic case of Parental Alienation Syndrome (a form of child abuse) and haven't spoken to me (or any Lamberton) in years, I have always feared the Western Union man, What I mean is that if anything tragic ever happened to one of them (beyond being stripped of a parent by insidious adults), I have no doubt that their mother, who lives two miles away from me, wouldn't tell me. Two years ago when I encountered her on the street, I asked her about the welfare of each of them (including this question for each of them, "Is he alive?") and her cold, marble nature showed when she answered each and every inquiry with stony silence.
Occasionally I"ll run into old acquaintances in town whose boys I coached when they were growing up and I'll ask about their kids. As I initiate the conversation, I live in dread of one of them breaking out with, "I'm so sorry for your loss, Peter!" Because I always thought that that would be how I would find out bad news about any of them, maybe months or years later.
Do you have children? Try living like that for a decade, and that will show you how lifeless my ex-wife is.
It finally happened this month. Out of the blue, I received a bereavement card in the mail from a casual acquaintance that told me how sorry he was for the loss of my family member.
I reflected on my family members. All of my siblings were doing well, and if anything tragic had happened in their families, somebody would have called me. It could only be about one of my children.
I would have been absolutely frantic, with no place to turn for further information, except for one piece of fortuitous luck that had occurred mere days earlier after all these years of silence about my children. I had encountered an old acquaintance, a best friend of my ex-wife, who although complicit in extrajudicially wrecking my paternity, is made of sterner stuff than the lifeless nature that infuses my ex-wife. She answered every question I put to her about my three sons, and that is how I found out that last year my youngest child had married a girl named Laura. She had also said that the middle child and oldest child had recently broken up with their girlfriends and were in various states of devastation about the break ups, so I assumed that with this recent news, they were probably okay unless one of them was suicidal about it.
I made inquiries where I could and learned that the casual acquaintance had been searching on the Internet and come across a news report that a Peter Lamberton had been in a car accident in which his wife was killed. There are other Peter Lambertons in the world, and perhaps such a tragedy befell one of them, for which I am sorry. This casual acquaintance reading the news report, being a genuinely nice person, had dispatched a pro-forma bereavement card to my house, perhaps ill-advisedly so.
I have been living on the edge for years. You should be so lucky as to never have such a situation befall you.