Charlie was born two months early. He weighed only three pounds at birth and had a heart murmur. He spent quite some time in an incubator before his mother could finally take him home. "I didn't think he was going to live," she told everyone.
When I knew Charlie, he was a grown man and had scars on his hips where his mother had burned his tender baby flesh with the end of her lighted cigarette. Charlie was the only one of her five children who suffered abuse at the hands of their mother.
It may be that she viewed him as defective and didn't really want him. I know she suffered from feelings of guilt for the rest of her life and developed a severe drinking problem in her later years. When she died from cancer in her sixties, Charlie shed nary a tear. He played his guitar at her funeral.
I asked her once why all of her children were given nicknames except for Charlie who was always called Charles. "We didn't think he was going to live," she answered. "He had that heart murmur." But Charlie outgrew the heart murmur and served in the army.
He went on to be successful in life and worked for RCA as an engineering technician until his retirement. He developed technologies for lunar missions and received numerous awards for his work.
Charlie was my husband for nineteen years until a mountain of issues grew up between us and finally forced us apart. I always wondered if it was because Charlie's scars were more than skin deep.
I always called him Chuck, or sometimes Chuckle after his favorite movie theater gumdrop candy. Now that he's gone, I wish I would have called him Charlie.