He sat in the very first row. It was only him in that row. There were really, if you thought about it, no others to even be there. It had been him and his son, his Jaime for such a long time, a long and very difficult time.
Now he was here, in the house, to attend to burying Jaime.
He was deep in thought for many minutes, as he waited with the others for the beginning.
"How many times do I have to go through this in one lifetime?" he asked himself, with bitter intentions.
It certainly cast his mind back on the very same kind of event for his Evie, Jaime's Mom. That event had not really faded, and that had been years ago.
There was, of course, no answer to the query. It just sat there, stuck in Glen's mind.
It was certainly true that both the Mom, his lovely Evie, and Jaime seemed to be cut from the same bolt of cloth.
He remembered her the way she was at their beginning. His 'roman candle' he'd called her, ever ready to go off in a crazy direction, adding life and zest to their relationship. But it had changed, and it seemed that after a while, after Jaime's birth, Evie had never been the same.
She'd taken some pain pills for a complaint of some kind and then it was always the pain pills. He'd tried to help her wean away from them but that was never totally a success.
Evie had buried herself in the bottle then and in the pill bottle, until the combination simply took her away. In the very end, she apologized to him and asked him to be good to their Jaime. She'd said that she simply wanted her rest now, getting away from drinking and the pills.
The doctors had told Glen that there was going to be little help for her, until and unless she was ready to sweep it all from her.
But the damage to her physical constitution was too great and it was simple pneumonia that carried her away from him, from them.
Then it was raising Jaime, struggling to be a good single father. It worked for many of those years. It worked until in the latter years of high school and the first years at the university Jaime had met his 'crowd', as he called them, and was as heavily into drugs as they.
All of this played in Glen's mind like a strange and off-key symphony. It was hard, these days, for him to get rid of that mental cacophony, that drowned out his thinking and left him with a head ache and a soul ache.
And now here he was, at another of these funerals; this one was for Jaime and was at least as hard as the last one had been.
During those difficult years, Glen Stowell had found his release in the business and that had been as grand a success as anyone could imagine or hope for.
It left Glen in a position to give Jaime everything that he'd wanted. "Maybe a bad thing," he'd said to himself any number of times. But it just seemed as though the lurking, almost, madness that had taken his Evie was there for Jaime next. Glen didn't even pretend to understand it.
He broke out of the reverie just then, and disciplined himself to stop the glooming about things that were past and done.
He felt, at times like this, as though there had been so few years, instances of the 'normal', as though his life had been beset by demons and his loved ones always seemed to be the victims.
He shook his head again and banished the thoughts. He'd been over this material so many times over the years. He'd talked to a counselor many times, a priest friend of his, and had worked with it all until he was as quiet in his mind with it as possible.
Just then, with the memories locked back in their mental box, that's where Father Fred had trained him to put them, commenting that one day he'd be able simply to banish them altogether, into the outer darkness, where they belong or into a mental trash can, to put them finally away, and that time was certainly coming, though it was interrupted by Jaime's overdose death, just then he saw Cherry come in. She had little Galinda in her arms and sat in the very back row.
The thought struck Glen immediately and he acted on it, being sure of its correctness.
He went to the funeral director and made a simple request. The man nodded and said he'd do it and went off to accomplish Glen's request.
Then Glen shocked the people there by getting up and walking down the aisle.
He got to the very back, and stood by Cherry. She looked up and him and managed a wan smile. The tears were flowing down her cheeks.
She stood, when he got to her. She wrapped an arm around his neck, using the other arm to hold the little bundle that Galinda was.
"I'm so sorry," she said.
"Thank you!" he murmured.
"I really tried," she said.
"I know that!" he answered.
"There simply was no going back for him, it seemed!" he said next.
Then he took her by the elbow and said: "Come and sit with me."
"Really?" she asked.
"Really!" he said, "We need to face this together."
Cherry, went with him, crying now outwardly.
He stopped by the chairs in the front row, a chair for him, that had been there and a chair now for her. He held her again, letting her cry, before they sat down.
They sat for the brief service, with Galinda lying down on Cherry's lap and positively making eyes at Glen She had a pacifier in her mouth and didn't make a fuss at all. At one point, when they were finishing up, Glen simply took the baby in his arms and held her, with her making her soft noises right next to his ear.
When they were finished, with Glen still holding the baby, they circulated a bit.
Glen insisted on Cherry staying with him. It made her feel much more secure. The possible failure that she felt was her own for not helping Jaime overcome his drugging habits was a heavy burden for her. She felt so much better, with Glen attending to her, as he did, and helping to take care of the baby.
The funeral was followed by a light and catered luncheon: not very fussy and not very formal. For that time period, Cherry and Galinda stayed with Glen.
When the luncheon was done, and Glen had seen to the financial arrangements that needed to be settled, Cherry, with Galinda and Glen were left.
"How'd you get here?" he asked.
"I got a ride," she said.
"Give you one home?" he asked.
"Yes, thank you," she said. Then she blushed as she began to speak her mind: "Thank you so much for taking care of me and Galinda," she said. "It's been so hard."
"Yes, I know, love," Glen said. "And I also know that there was nothing, absolutely nothing to be done to help him, as long as he wasn't ready or willing to help himself. I know how much we tried, both of us."
She cried again, and put an arm around his neck.
"Thank you for that," she said.
"Now, I want you to call me, if you need anything at all!" he said to her next, bending to kiss her on the cheek.
"I promise," she said.
"I certainly don't want to lose track of either you or the lovely Galinda," he said finally.
He drove them to the trailer park, where she and Jaime had been living. She was still staying there. He dropped her off at the entrance of the park, and watched as she and Galinda went off to their trailer.
He drove home then, and settled in with his thoughts and a stinger; he felt that he needed one just then.
(Glen Stowell was certainly not a huge drinker; at least he was not much of a drinker. His experiences with Evie had made that kind of impression on him but now and again he had something, like a glass of wine, or a glass of stout or a stinger, when the situation called for it. This was one of those times.)
A KIND OF RESCUE:
He was in his reverie, when the phone rang. It was Cherry. She was crying.
"Honey," he said. "What is it?"
"They're gone!" she said.
"Gone?" he said, simply repeating her word.
"Yes," she said, "Only a note on the door of the trailer. It merely says 'Sorry about Jaime; the rest of us are heading off.'"
"I'll be right there," he said.
"Didn't know whom to call," she said softly.
"Me, of course!" he said. "You wait, I'm coming."
He was as good as his word. She was waiting for him, and, once he got there, it took him a few long minutes to calm her down.
"Don't know what to do now," she said, "They took everything. I know that we didn't have much but they took everything."
"It's simple," he said, "You're coming home with me, both of you. That's what we're going to do."
They rode in silence for just a bit. She kept smiling at him and Galinda was making her contented sounds.
"She's such a love," he said, "Like her Momma!"
She smiled, and said: "You are being wonderful."
"Well, you two are my own!" he replied.
She leaned over and put her head on his shoulder. "That makes me feel so happy!"
"I intend to take care of you and that lovely little girl!" he declared.
"And," he went on, "I know that we'll need to shop; if they've taken everything, then we need to get you outfitted and get the things that we need for Galinda too."
Each new act of kindness on his part, impressed Cherry more and more; it left her smiling.
"Tell me then," he said, "What we need for her. Maybe we should shop for her right away; we'll do that first."
"Yes, please," she said.
They talked about the things that they needed for Galinda. He'd brought with him, on that rescue trip, his large suburban and had the room for the things that they needed to shop for.
They decided to do that right away.
He also figured that it would get her mind off of the events of that afternoon. It did serve to do that.
.... There is more of this story ...