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When a woman's been done wrong by a man, she's done for good

Rodney Crowell is a Grammy-winning artist, the writer of hundreds of hit songs and the former son-in-law of Johnny Cash.

He is also the smartest man I have, thus far, met in this life.

"I've heard you're in touch with your feminine side," I commented during a radio interview.

He smiled. "Well, I don't know about that, but I'm the father of four daughters, I've had two wives and I have learned some things."

He leaned closer, looked me directly in the eye and pointed his finger. "But I'll tell you what I know about women. And this I know with certainty." He paused dramatically. "When a woman is through with you, when she has crossed that line, there is no going back. Ever. Now, we men, we can be enticed back a few times. But a woman, when she's through, she's through."

That's right. A little red lingerie and any man will come running back. It's that simple. But Rodney Crowell, the writer of great songs like "Please Remember Me" and "Shame on the Moon," is right. When we're through, we're through. That's it. Enough.

But, first, we will try to save that wayward soul of a man. We'll try to make him into what we believe he can be, into the man that we are actually in love with. We know that man is lingering inside.

It is sad but true that we women, even the smartest ones, tend to love men who are flawed and non-apologetic for it while the good ones languish on the sidelines, waiting to be discovered. Margaret Mitchell once famously said that all Southerners love a losing cause. The same can be said of all women, Southern or not.

But - and this is a huge, empathetic BUT - when we are through, when we have crossed that line between caring more and not being able to care less, our hearts never look back.

Mine never has.

I was barely off my daddy's knee when Gladys, a woman we knew from her regular attendance at our little country church, crossed that line and just kept going. It was a summer afternoon and we had just finished dinner (not lunch, mind you, for the country folks never call the mid-day meal that) at her parents' house after a morning service during the August revival.

The grown-ups sat under an enormous oak tree talking, while I sprawled on the ground with a book.

"Looky there," Gladys' mama said in a puzzled voice. We looked up to see Gladys stomping up the red dirt road with a baby straddling her bony hip and trailing a string of straggled-looking young'ins behind her.

She was wearing a lightweight cotton dress, flat loafers covered with dry summer dust and swinging a black pocket book crooked in one arm. Even I, innocent though I was, could tell she was a mad woman.

"Howdy do," she said politely, but unsmiling, to her parents' company. She then turned her stony glare to her daddy and mama.

"I come home," she said plaintively, lifting her chin stubbornly. "I've up and left Royce and I ain't a'goin' back. I done made up my mind and it's gonna stay made up."

It stayed made up, all right. For Gladys moved that passel of young'ins in to that tiny white frame house and stayed put. Still there to this day, too.

Royce, I overhead the grown-ups talking, had come home drunk one time too many, his pockets empty from another night of poker. Oh, he tried to get her back, throwing his dignity to the wind and carrying on with unbecoming rousts of howling, moaning and begging. She turned a deaf ear and that was that.

For what Rodney Crowell said is true. It's always been true. When a woman is through with a man, she's through.

And she doesn't look back.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)" and "The Town That Came A-Courtin'."