Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tom's other woman

Allie often pesters me for old stories. She’s not wanting to hear about anything good I’ve managed to do. No, she wants me to tell of the incidents that show my horrible side. Few stories show a worse side of me than the one about Mattie. For reasons you might be able to imagine, this has become one of Lily’s favorites too. For newcomers, this is not me now! I may still occasionally find myself on the wrong side of Tom’s paddle, but it’s not for being unkind to others.
I’ve written that Tom and I had a whirlwind courtship – marrying a scant six weeks after we met. But I’ve never told you about the other woman that was in Tom’s life at that time. Yes, there was another woman and yes, Tom loved her dearly.
They had met when Tom was nearly sixteen and time had only brought them closer. Now, in a way, I’m only teasing. Theirs was a love story – but not that kind. Mattie came to work for his parents when Tom was in his teens. She lived-in and became their household manager. She was a widow with a son not much younger than Tom. Mattie soon became Tom’s confidante and friend for the many days his parents traveled.
When he was twenty-two, Tom lost both his parents within a year of one another. Mattie’s son had recently joined the military so Mattie came to work for Tom, newly graduated from college, in the same capacity she had worked for his parents. She was part cook, part maid, part life coach and part parent. So yes, the two of them loved one another very much. They worked well together and the household ran like a well-oiled machine.
Then I came along…

You may be shocked to hear this, but I didn’t fit right into their orderly, sensible, scheduled existence. LOL! My, we all had some adjusting to do. Having spent the previous five years acting as wild as buck, I was in shock at all the abrupt changes in my life. Suddenly, someone expected me to listen to him and do as I was told. I chafed and fought most of the changes Tom was bringing into my life, beneficial though they might ultimately have been.
Challenging him directly was a painful option. I know now that it was fear, frustration and anger that caused me to act the way I did. I was afraid I had jumped into marriage too quickly. I was frustrated by the sudden restrictions on my life and deep down I was heartsick and angry because I felt I would soon lose Tom, whom I had come to love so fiercely. All the men I had been with for the previous five years had eventually left. I had no reason at that time to feel Tom would be any different.
It seems that my worry, frustrations and anger turned to one target – Mattie.
I had watched how my parents and my first husband had treated those who worked for them – like dirt. In my mind I believed that there were two types of people in the world - those with power and those with none. I had been powerless as I grew up and I was in an even worse situation in my first marriage. But that ended when my first husband died and I was free of his tyranny. I had inherited his money. To me that meant that for the first time I was in control.
For the five years prior to my marriage to Tom I had perfected my ‘power’ act. No one was immune - maids, cooks, waiters, store clerks, drivers – all of them felt my wrath. I cursed, berated and belittled. Today, it hurts to remember how I was back then. I now see myself as a pleasant (if somewhat batty) little southern lady, but that is Tom’s creation. On my own, my fears and insecurities combined to create a cross between Leona Helmsley and the Devil wears Prada – only not as sweet!
Mattie – dear Mattie – she must have wondered what had hit their peaceful home. It began smoothly enough. I was so blotted in love with Tom I followed him around like an adoring puppy. But as he got back into his work schedule, I began to resent Mattie for running his home so efficiently. I resented the closeness she and Tom shared and I resented their easy, relaxed friendship. In front of Tom I was sweet as pie to Mattie, but oh my, when he was out of the house I turned into a shrew!
I soon began countermanding any order, suggestion or request she made to anyone who worked at the house. I would change menus at the last minute, rearrange the way cleaning and laundry were done – anything to annoy Mattie. I wanted Tom to fire her but I knew that was extremely unlikely. What I didn’t know, though, was that Mattie was on the verge of leaving to live with her daughter and son-in-law who were expecting their first child. Tom had begged her to stay until the baby came or at least for a few months so that I could get settled. She had agreed. She would do anything for Tom. But I knew none of this and my feeble plan was to make her unhappy enough to quit.
Mattie always brought my breakfast tray up after Tom left and I would begin my day by finding fault with something. Mattie soon adopted a calm ‘take it or leave it attitude’ and suggested I might be more pleased if I came to the dining room for breakfast – closer to the kitchen – where last minute changes could be more easily handled. I screamed abuse at her for such a suggestion. I cursed and called her names – but she barely reacted and never once told Tom what was happening.
This had been going on for some weeks when one morning Mattie failed to bring me my Bloody Mary.  “Mr. Tom’s worried about you overdoing it on the drinking,” she explained, “and I agree with him.” 
I went ballistic!
“You stupid cow!” I screamed at her. “Who do you think is in charge here? I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think of my drinking! Who the hell are you to interfere with my life? When I tell you to do something you damn well better jump!”
Mattie, as usual, was completely unaffected by my tantrum. “Orange juice would be better for you,” she stated, calmly. Oh, how I hated her calm.
“Do you know what you can do with this f-ing orange juice?” I bellowed. I punctuated my question by throwing the full glass of juice at the door. The glass exploded, spraying its contents over the room as glass fragments rained down.
It was then that Tom stepped into the room…

I was nearly speechless with terror. One look at Tom’s face had me wondering if I would ever sit again.
I was like a deer caught in the headlights in the face of his fury. He was fast – he grabbed my hand and had me over his knee before I could take a breath. He began spanking fast and furious! All I could get out was, “NO! Tom – don’t! Stop! Please!" But he may as well have been deaf.
Quickly, I was in agony, but he was nowhere near finished. Then he paused for a moment and said, “You stay right there. I want you to be here for this.”
He was talking to Mattie, who was still present. Mattie’s only response was, “Then it’s a good thing you’re old enough that your wants won't hurt you.” And she quietly left the room.
I had a fraction of a second to think ‘Go, Mattie!’ I couldn’t help admiring anyone brave enough to stand up to Tom. But in the next instant he resumed the spanking, if possible, with even more force! And he wasn’t even talking yet. I had already learned that once he began talking, we were barely at the halfway point. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I was crying and begging him to stop when I heard Mattie, who had come back, say, “That’s enough.”
“Not by a long shot,” Tom retorted, as a well-aimed spank found my sit spot. “Her rudeness, her language, her disrespect – I will not tolerate it.” The next lick landed on my upper thigh and I howled! Mattie walked right over to Tom and shocked both of us by taking hold of his wrist.
“I know you won’t tolerate it – but I said, that’s enough. You're angry and the best thing for you to do would be to go back to work. This incident is over with and Miss Cassie has a mess of orange juice to clean up.”
Tom seemed somewhat at a loss and I didn’t dare say a word. Tom hesitated, then finally relented. “Very well, we’ll continue this discussion tonight.”
“You can discuss all you want to tonight, but you’ll do it face to face,” Mattie told him, firmly.
Tom stood me up and looked at me sternly. “You are very lucky to have Mattie on your side.” He kissed me on the forehead and as he left the room, did the same to Mattie.
After he left, I didn’t know what to say. I was embarrassed – Tom had never spanked me in front of anyone. I was also beginning to feel ashamed for the way I’d treated Mattie. What I was mostly feeling at the moment was profound gratitude to her for literally saving my butt.
I did clean up the mess I made. Then Mattie and I had a long talk, the first of many, many long talks. During those first years of my marriage, Tom was the one who insisted I be a lady – but it was Mattie who actually taught me how.
She didn’t really approve of spanking. That was the only real spanking Mattie ever witnessed and the only time she ever interfered – but she made no secret that she didn’t like it one bit. She had dealt with the same issue of disapproval when Tom’s father spanked his mother. They had had a standard ‘agree to disagree’ deal.
At that time, Mattie was the closest thing to a mother I ever had. Over the years she would often come and stay with us for short visits. During those precious visits we often talked, fought, laughed and cried. But mostly, we loved each other as families should.
Mattie passed away in 2000 at the age of 82. We were all with her that day – her son, daughter, grandchildren and Tom and me. She had a hand in rearing us all and we all still miss her.


Roz said...

Wow, what a moment this was, I can't believe Mattie stopped Tom the way she did. I so enjoyed reading this. What a special person she was and such a positive influence in both your lives. This is a lovely tribute to her :)


Rosie said...

Wow, Cassie! You were a HOT one! You've really changed through the years. Mattie sounds like a treasure. I can't believe you were blessed with her in your early marriage and Lily now!
The pictures were great and I loved the line " It was then that Tom stepped into the room..." Uh oh.
Rosie Dee

Cassie said...

Roz, Mattie was very brave and Tom never intimidated her one bit. She was the best.

Rosie, That memory still gives me chills today! To say I've been blessed is quite the understatement.

ronnie said...

Mattie was indeed a treasure and now you have Lily to keep a eye on you:)


Katie said...

Oh Cassie, your behavior sure was awful back then!! How wonderful of Mattie to stand up for you, in spite of everything that you did!! She must have been some woman!! So happy that you had that special relationship from there. So nice for Tom to have had her in his life too. Many hugs,

❤️Katie xoxo

Cassie said...

Ronnie - Bookends. I don't know what I would have done without Mattie influence and I can't imagine life without Lily.

Katie - Awful barely begins to cover how I was. I think it was her love for Tom that drove her to help me become the lady he wanted.

Blondie said...

OH Cassie, how wonderful to have someone like Mattie in your life. You were very fortunate. This was a nice story.

Cassie said...

Blondie - Thank you. She was so very special. She certainly taught me a lot.

Aimless Rambling said...

I'm loving Mattie - she reminds me much of Lily.

Cassie said...

I've been blessed to have had my adult life booked by these amazing women.