To me, integrity is closely linked to kindness. This article is about Louella to whom I am kind even though my kindness is not returned.
Louella is someone to whom I consider myself a very good friend. I can’t say however that she is a good friend to me. She is someone whom I’ve always said is “all southern charm and no character”.
Louella was briefly married to one of my cousins. When she met him she was married to someone else. After a while, she talked her husband into giving her a quickie Caribbean divorce and married her new lover within a day of returning from the islands. They went away for a wonderful, long honeymoon. Afterward, her new “husband” moved to her hometown to be with her but she never moved into the house he rented. She never even told anyone in that part of the world that she had gotten the a divorce, let alone remarried.
Eventually she decided to go back to the first husband; and that’s what she did, remaining with him a number of years before finally getting a belated divorce from her “lover” so they could legally re-marry. Shortly after that she was divorced from him once more.
If that were all I knew about Louella, I would by now have her in the far background of my mind. The trouble is, she never stays in the background. Every five to ten years one of her marriages breaks up and she contacts me once more. Her purpose—a constant quest to re-open the romance with the man she married so briefly and deserted, a man who no longer wants anything to do with her.
One day a call will come from her and there she is, calling and e-mailing for a while until another man catches her fancy and she forgets about that old ex-“husband.”
As I said before, this woman is full of southern charm but I don’t know why I accept her calls or worry about her when they don’t come. Her entire focus is herself. Why can’t I shun this person who clearly uses me—a person I don’t really miss but still worry about—a person I find unlovable but unaccountably still love?
Everyone needs someone they can always call in their blackest hours; so although I find her behavior abhorrent, her morals negligible and her sense of propriety entirely lacking, I know that the little girl inside her, who apparently never grew up, needs someone to turn to; and I can’t bear to hurt that child by being unavailable to the fading belle she has become.
Louella has no character, but I do; and that’s why I care even though I see her clearly for what she is.