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September 2, 2008

David Brinkley

Roy Meachum

David Brinkley stopped by for coffee. He received a yawn and nod from Pushkin, who proceeded to his usual spot in the library. The English pointer and the state senator knew each other from earlier encounters. David and I headed for the patio. This was last week, during the brief hiatus from the overbearing humidity.


In times past, the man from New Market indulged his aging friend. As the whole world knows I like to talk and I find him an engaging conversationalist. On most subjects we agree, surprisingly; we're not always in accord on the ends. But then we believe there's great fun getting there.


Fun could not be found on any level that late August day. This was the first patio kafeklatch devoted to a single subject.


As you doubtless saw or heard in the local media, he called police for what cops write up as a "domestic disturbance." She told 911 later that he had struck her. I've known the man exactly half his life, 24 years. He has come across as someone always in control. Knowing the lady, I'm very much aware that she can be highly argumentative; she's an attorney after all. When law school didn't scratch her personal itch, she entered nursing.


Sally and I last saw each other at this year's Frederick Republicans' dinner. I sensed nothing awry. To all comers, David freely admits he had been having an affair; he makes no effort to justify. He equally is adamant that the "personal" side of the relationship was relatively new, nowhere near 12 years as a paper claimed. It was tipped by the "wronged" husband in an email.


In any event, there was nothing but remorse in his voice in the long chat we had on the patio. He worried very much about the impact on his bond with the children. I have been there.


With three sons and a daughter involved during my first divorce, I was anxious for how the four younger Meachums would view me. I will not seek, at some cost to the mother of my children, to justify why I "messed around." It happened and not without cause. Was I concerned about the effect when the affair became known? It never did, except in the revelation to my wife. I am proud of nothing to do with that affair; I married the lady.


It's taken years to establish a more-or-less civilized pattern with my sons and daughter. By coincidence, Labor Day night I attended a belated birthday for young Roy. One of my children was not there; but his enmity had precious little to do with his mother. He later lived in my house; my then-wife and I helped him to navigate the GED and launch his college studies.


Life offers no guarantees, and the principle applies to how children react to their parents getting a divorce. I gather the Brinkleys are not near that point, not yet. Without speaking for Sally, David said he's seeing a counselor. A lawyer stands close at hand. She has legal representation: I don't know about counseling.


I liked both Brinkley at the get-go, and that was roughly 20 years ago. I was aware of the children's arrivals and echoed David's ebullience at her postgraduate triumphs. My very successful son, an attorney, was on the losing end of a case tried by Sally. Their children are so polite, so well brought-up, that I scarcely know them, but can admire their development as well as their manners.


As mark of his dedication to trying to sort things out, the senator served notice, in the upcoming session, he will not stand for a leadership post; he is currently the top Republican in the General Assembly’s upper house. I cannot imagine he will drop out of politics entirely. I trust voters in his district will balk at letting him go. My admiration for his public role in the community stands unswayed.


David Brinkley admits he's a sinner, in every sense. I can throw no stones, as you read. What was it Jesus said?



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