Some years ago I had a cleaning lady who lived across the road. Sarah was an elderly widow – so she thought – who wore an obvious wig and had a lugubrious air which was explained when she told me her history.
Some fifteen years earlier her husband had vanished, leaving her with two small children who she had struggled to bring up on her own. All her efforts to trace him had failed, and she believed he must be dead.
Then one day Sarah came over to me shaking with fury. “Do you know what?” she said, “You’d never believe it. That husband of mine has telephoned me bold as brass, saying that he’s visiting London from Australia WITH HIS NEW WIFE and they’d like me to meet them for a drink!! I told him I’d see him in Hades first.”
I sympathised, but that wasn’t the end of Sarah’s woes. Her two children, now aged around 20, were naturally curious to meet their long-lost father, and did so (and his “new wife” too). I sympathised both with them and also with Sarah, who understandably looked upon their fraternising with ‘the enemy’ as treachery.
Relations in that family were quite strained for some time afterwards. It was one of those sad situations where there can’t be an easy or a happy ending.