Problematic Parents



Perhaps it’s a sign I read too many YA novels, in which nearly all parents are dead, absent, or tragically flawed, that I gave so many of the characters in my series difficult relationships with their parents. Or perhaps I just felt that such relationships create stronger and more interesting characters. In Alex’s case, part of the problem turns out not to be her parents, but her own misconceptions about them. Realizing this allows her to mend, as best she can, their strained relationship. So as their characters become more important in Unveiled, here is a bit of background on each.


Timian (Tim) Crocker, Alex’s father

Born: appears to be in his late fifties (yes, that’s vague for a reason), no living siblings or parents


Physical characteristics: was once a sturdy built, strong jawed brunette with blue eyes. After suffering from stroke-like symptoms from overextending his powers, he is now physically hobbled with graying hair and watery eyes.


Of note: Tim was also a Seer who had to have developed at least some powers associated with his gift. He knew each of his children would eventually become Seers, if they survived their gift’s maturity, but kept it from them until they were nearing their mid-to-late teens. Due to the damage he caused himself trying to find his sons, which left him incoherent most of the time, he was never able to tell his youngest, Alex, who or what she was.


Ellen (Reilly) Crocker

Born: in Massachusetts, October 18, 1951


Physical characteristics: petite like Alex, but a few inches taller, brown eyes, blonde hair


Of note: Ellen was a somewhat submissive young wife, allowing her husband to raise their three children in a strict and often odd fashion; she apparently knew little if anything about her husband and children’s gifts.


Excerpts:

From Unforeseen:

“They couldn’t know. None of them can know,” her father said. Alex’s hands shook as she knelt by the empty box. She looked up at him despondently.

“Know what, Dad?” She sprang to her feet and crossed the room. She clutched at her father’s shirt. “What was in there? I need to know. I need it to save Levi!”

Rocky rushed to intervene. “Calm down, Alex,” he said prying her fingers off the flannel fabric. “Back off; you don’t want to hurt him.” He pulled her back and pinned her arms by her side.

“You have all you need, Alexandra. The last of three will yield more power than them all.”

Alex was frustrated with her father’s apparent gibberish. “I don’t have what I need. I don’t know how to find him,” she shouted, fighting against Rocky’s hold.

“Quiet, Alex,” Rocky urged. “You’ll have the whole neighborhood here.”

“You’ve always known. You can find him, but not save him. They take too much,” her father said. For the first time since he started this double-speak, he looked up into Alex’s eyes. If Rocky hadn’t been holding her, she would have collapsed as a wave of pain, then fear, worry, and finally—oddly—pride washed over her. It drowned out her emotions much the same way Sage did when he touched her. For a moment she was lost in her father’s feelings.

“Oh, my God,” Alex said as she regained her sense of herself. Rocky steadied her. “What is it?” he asked concerned.
“He just projected on me,” she said, looking at him confused. “My father is a Seer, too.” Rocky actually chuckled. “Of course he is, Alex, or was before whatever happened to him weakened his essence. If he hadn’t developed some Seer powers, you and your brothers would never have been full-blooded Seers.”

Alex was still wondering about this when a loud crash caught them both off guard. They turned to see her father had fallen down the last two stairs and was trying to get up.

Rocky rushed to his side and helped him to his feet, then guided him to the couch, where he helped him sit.

His focused look was gone, replaced with the glassy stare and shaking hands Alex had come to expect since his stroke.

“El—Ellen?” he asked looking quizzically at Alex.
Rocky looked at Alex for an explanation. “It’s my mother’s name,” she said.
“It’s like he doesn’t remember just talking to you,” Rocky said. Alex nodded, admitting Rocky was probably right. “We should leave now, before your mother returns. I think I heard two women talking in the yard next door.”

Alex glanced back at her father one last time, hoping for a look of recognition as she blew him a kiss goodbye. She was met with a blank stare.


From Unveiled:

Ellen examined Alex knowingly. “You have a lot going on in your life right now, don’t you?”

Alex wondered just how much her mother knew about that statement. Darian and the Elder Regan, Ardellus, had been positive when they discovered Alex that her father was a Seer, who, before he had damaged them trying to find the truth about what happened to her brothers, had similar powers to hers. It was clear from the way he raised them that he knew of the existence of both covens and the dangers that would come from aligning himself or his children with either side. She was walking a fine line but had to ask. “Mom, how much do you know about Dad’s, ah, background?”

“Nothing,” Ellen said at first. Alex knew this wasn’t true. Ellen might have been submissive as young wife, but she wasn’t oblivious. “And everything,” she finally added. When Alex waited, she explained. “I knew nothing of what he was teaching you all, nothing of the reason for his fear or his unwillingness to mourn and move on after their accident.” Her eyes focused on her hands twisting in her lap. “But I knew it was bigger than some crazy parenting technique; I knew he thought it was worth the risks. And then I knew it took everything from me. And I knew, and he came to realize, that it wasn’t worth it. It broke him.” She looked up at Alex. The tears streaming down her cheeks matched those Alex felt on her own. “Alex, whatever you learned this summer, whatever he told you, please, let it go. I can’t lose you, too.”

Alex stood and moved to her mother’s side. She knew the pain of contact would stagger her, but she braced herself and held her mother tight. Time and distance had done nothing to ease their pain or to lessen their need for one another.


Today’s question:

Who are the most memorable (for being either awful or amazing) parents in literature?


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