This CNN report has left me feeling a little off-canted. Rusty Yates, whose first wife drowned their five children, has started a new family. He remarried in 2006. His new wife had a son on March 20.
I read it in a blur – sort of shocked that so much time has passed since that devastating day when we learned Andrea Yates drowned her children in the bathtub at her suburban home. It was something I wish I didn’t know. But I do – I know how her eldest son ran from her when he saw what she had done. How he struggled. She was bigger though, and stronger, and she won. So yes, the Andrea Yates story, for better or worse, is in our collective memory. It was the first bad thing in the three bad things that would happen that summer and autumn of 2001.
I remember how Feminists were enraged with Randy Yates, accusing him of being a monster for leaving Andrea at home with those children when she was so obviously incapable of caring for them. I remember reading about how he homesteaded with her and five children in a converted school bus, which seemed quite odd to me, and I found that a little callous. Any mother is going to need more than a school bus. Any mother – and any woman for that matter – needs a door to close behind her. Still, Randy Yates wasn’t the one who killed his children. And I remember even in the frothing debate, I did not develop an opinion on Randy Yates – and I still don’t have one.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel a little weird reading that he had just fathered his sixth child – his first with his new wife. Childbirth in any circumstance is life affirming. Life goes on, I suppose, even for a man who has undergone a massive trauma that nobody should ever have to endure. And I guess its a sign of faith that he didn’t just say to his new wife, I love you and I’ll marry you but I can’t go through being a father again. Maybe he’s good at it. Maybe he loves being a father more than anything. I don’t know. But I find it odd as well as life-affirming. There is something obsessive about it with him. I realize I am getting far afield of my own expertise here, but it’s just something I sense in him. This desire to procreate. Yet in pictures he never looked particularly chummy with the kids. I suppose I could have missed some, but the pictures that were shown all over television were Andrea looking a little wild-eyed with a toddler in one arm and an infant in another. There were few pictures, as I recall, of Randy with any of the kids. He seemed to enjoy looking at them, certainly.
Life goes on. Even with your children dead, and your life locked up forever in a mental institution. Life goes on. I wish that brought me comfort, but all I feel about it in this case is a chilly sense of doom.