Happiness Key: Alice’s Story, Part Two
New to my blog? We’re exploring the backgrounds of the characters in my latest novel, Happiness Key. If you go here, you’ll find a list of all the blogs in this series, beginning with Tracy, then moving on to Janya and Wanda. This is part two of Alice’s story, which began on Monday. Alice is the final character to have her say.
With what Fred had so carefully saved and invested, I was fixed for the rest of my life. By then Karen was married to her second husband. She was a wonderful daughter, our Karen. We always thought she would go on to become a teacher, but in her second year of college she married a boy who was-and I hate to say this-just no good. He was indecisive and lazy, and even though I was raised to dislike divorce, we were so glad when she left and later divorced him. She managed to finish her degree and start her career before she met her second husband, Lee Symington.
Lee and Karen were married just a year before Fred died. Lee was the opposite of her first husband, attentive and charming, and like Karen, he wanted children. I’m so sorry Fred died without knowing that Karen was finally pregnant with our grandchild. He would have adored Olivia, who was born the year after his death. She is a quiet, well-behaved child, filled, I think, with thoughts she doesn’t share. She loves to be read to, even now at 10, and she loves to collect shells and driftwood and feed the fish in my aquarium. I have adored her since the moment she was born.
I am glad Fred wasn’t alive to experience what happened next. When Olivia was still nine, Karen drowned in a boating accident off the coast of Palmetto Grove. A gale force wind flipped the small cruiser that she and Lee had saved so hard to buy. He tried his hardest to save her and nearly drowned in the process. She was always a strong swimmer, but the waves were just too high. Neither of them were wearing life jackets. Karen had always insisted on every safety measure, but I suppose that because Olivia was not in the boat, the jackets were somehow left behind. There were gale warnings that day, but Lee told me their radio stopped working after they left the marina, and they were so far away they had decided not to turn back.
By then I had moved to Palmetto Grove to be near them. Fred and I always dreamed of having a condo on the water, and after he died Karen found me this cottage and persuaded me to move. I had suffered a stroke, and things weren’t as easy as they once had been. Sometimes I had trouble putting words together, or remembering where I left things, and Karen wanted me near. The cottage isn’t much to look at, but it has the most beautiful views and access to the water. We knew the land had been sold to a developer who planned to build a condo and hotel complex when the time was right, but the house was affordable for whatever time I could live there. For the time being, with Karen’s watchful assistance, I could have my fondest wish and see the Gulf any time I chose.
Her death, of course, changed all that.
(Alice’s Story Concludes on Friday)
We were supposed to tell what makes us happy. Well, I am usually a jovial happy person so a lot of things help me stay that way. So I am going to tell you what makes me unhappy-rude peope that are only into being “me, me,me”.
What really makes me happy is when I get a new book to read.
If I understand what I am doing, I am responding to what I have just read about Alice’s story. She is coping with the loss of her husband after having suffered a stroke and now she lives near her daughter and the Gulf. I too am coping with the loss of my Dad, who was a wonderful man and I was blessed to be his daughter. I always wondered how I would cope with such a profound loss, especially after 23 years as a hospice grief counselor. I am coping with the joy for life, which he taught me and lived every single day of his life.
On Father’s Day, I thought I could be sad as I really missed my Dad or I could be truly happy for him. This would have been the first year in 59 years that he was able to be with his Dad, who died his senior year in high school. The two most recent memories of my Dad that make me very happy involve interactions my Dad had with my grandson, his first great grandchild. Last Christmas after a family dinner at my daughter’s house we watched Lucas open his presents. He looked around the room and acknowledged everyone’s presence saying: “Momma, Dada, PapPap, MiMi, GiGi and Papaw,” then pointed to himself as if to say: it doesn’t get any better than this. The final memory I have is my Dad watching my grandson toddle around his living room and Lucas walked over to my Dad in his recliner and his Papaw reached out and tossled his hair and wrapped his arm around his tiny waist.
Life that once was is gone, but the love remains and life is still very good. I am so grateful and happier than I ever could have imagined.
So often things do not turn out anywhere near the way we thought they would. We are approaching retirement and I keep wondering if we should retire now. We want to pay our house off first (we didn’t start until after retiring from the military) so we can travel and do the things we enjoy. But the longer we wait, the more our health becomes an issue.
We had considered moving my husband’s mother and then my dad in with us when the started needing more care. In both cases, we all came to the conclusion, it was best if they stayed where they were. They have their friends, and they know the area. I have met many people here who have moved a parent here from out of state, and these older people are so lost. They have “lost their life” and are just existing on the edges of their children’s family’s lives. They are so lonely and lost.
I’m happy that my husband and I enjoy many of the same things and are able to pursue them. It will make retirement, when it comes enjoyable. We also have strong separate interests that will prevent us from needing each other all the time.