THE 'JACKASS' NOTE:
He sent her a crazy note after New Year's Day. It made him chuckle. Told her that he'd scanned the police reports and didn't see her name or his name in those reports.
"So," he went on, "We must have not been too much out of control last night."
He was also sending her a medical note. It was, after all, the basis of their relationship. She was the go-between, the one to whom he reported facts and numbers. They'd been doing it, sending those notes back and forth for a while now.
He was a heart patient. Jack Winters had already lived through a heart attack at a rather young age, 43, which was followed by a quad bypass, and then, a while later, surgery for atrial fibrillation.
These days, of course, he felt great. He had ramped up his exercising and no laziness on his part could make him break off his devotion to exercising. His visits with his heart doctor seemed to confirm the progress that he was making.
She was, for Jack, not even a voice. She was a name in an e-mail address. She was the channel through which he reported things like BP and such to the doctor.
It started casually and for a long time she was only the name Jane Tierny attached to her e-mail address.
She had, initially sent him notes of encouragement. He appreciated that, especially, when he was recuperating. That had been a time when his sister, Gracie, took care of him.
He and she had always been close and her reaction to his heart attack, which had been a rather mild one, as it turned out, had been to simply take over caring for him.
They had both cooperated in taking care of Mom and Poppa, when each of those wonderful people, had gone into a final illness and then death. They'd kept both of them at home to take care of them. At the time Gracie was living about an hour away and Jack had his own apartment.
When things began to get serious, he and Gracie had talked about it and agreed that he should move back in with Mom and Poppa to do the caring.
Jack, a the time, ran the business that his Poppa had founded, and ran it well. He made sure that the right kind of management was in place that would give him some extra time to provide care for, initially, Poppa, who got sick first and then for Momma, who followed afterwards, once the down time and shock of the death of her Ray was finally a reality for her.
In the meantime, Gracie moved back into town, living at first with Jack and then, following an agreement that they both came to, moving into her own apartment.
Gracie was a lawyer and a good one, able to get a good job with a local firm, when she moved back to the area.
After taking care of Momma and Poppa, in a rather quick turn of events, it was Gracie's turn to take care of Jack, after his heart attack. It had happened on a day when, feeling particularly poorly, he'd made an appointment with the doctor and had the 'good sense', as he always claimed, to have the attack, while visiting the doctor.
He often enough wondered, when he allowed his thoughts to move in the direction of Jane Tierny, if she'd been there, when he had his heart attack.
It was only later, once he was in the process of maintaining a link between him and the cardiologist, Dr. Susan Swithers, that he came across, time after time, Jane's name, as the go-between, the one that he fed information to and who then reported to Dr Swithers.
They had developed a friendly kind of relationship. He often sent her funny notes, when they were corresponding, and she was always the voice of encouragement, where he was concerned.
Janie Tierny had no particular local ties. She'd come out of nursing school, having gone to a local university for her training and simply decided to stay in the area, which she liked. The climate was good and she'd met and befriended a number of people, especially other nurses who lived and worked locally.
She lived with two of her nurse friends in a rather large home that they rented, from the Aunt and Uncle of one of the other girls.
Jane was, at that time, a very pretty, dark haired 33 year old. She was petit, with small pointy breasts and a really lovely butt. She'd been a soccer player at the university and had the form and attitude of a runner and athlete. She dated periodically but not anyone seriously. It was, as a matter of fact, one of her quirks that she didn't want to be matched with anyone's cousin or the friend of a friend.
She'd grown up rather independent, especially since college and the death of her parents in an accident. That event had left her with no other family and enough resources to see herself into a calm and well formed future. She was even, at the time, thinking of getting her own house, and simply settling down in the town where she was working.
In the course of working, she'd met Dr. Swithers and the two of them had hit it off with each other. Gradually, after that, Jane had been offered the job that she currently had, woking as a kind of assistant to Dr. Swithers, taking care of patient correspondence and many other tasks. The relationship worked rather well for the two of them.
So, for Jack Winters, Jane Tierny was not even a voice. She was an e-mail address but he discovered that she seemed to have a good sense of humor, and their correspondence, though always or at least usually, beginning as a report on his health, developed into a pleasant one.
He'd sent that 'jackass' note, as he called it, after thinking about it a bit, to which her response was only a terse 'thanks', in reaction to his reporting of his BP.
It bothered him for the balance of his morning. Gracie had noticed it and asked him about it. He merely said to her that it was something that he had to think about. He didn't think that he was ready to talk to Gracie about it, and, in a part of his mind, he wasn't even sure that there was really anything to talk about anyway. He had to think.
His thinking led him to a decision and he sent her an apology for the note about the police reports and all.
He got a return from her rather quickly: "Oh, please don't apologize," the note began. "I thought that your e-mail was funny. It's just that I'm in a funk today. Sorry."
He thought only briefly and sent a note back: "Jane, what's wrong? And please feel free to tell me to mind my own bananas."
The note came back to him then: "Your bananas are fine!" It made him grin.
"Thanks, pal," he said in his response.
Then, after a number of minutes, he got an explanation from her. "This is funk time for me. It's the anniversary of the accident that killed my Momma and Poppa. It always, or at least usually, drags my spirits down a bit."
His return note commiserated: "I understand totally," it read. "I spent a good deal of my time in the past number of years taking care of the folks during what turned out to be a final illness for each of them, first it was Pop and then it was Momma."
"Yes," her note came back, "Then you do understand."
"Yes, I do," he wrote back to her. Then he added: "And so, I'm going to sing you a song. Pick one and I'll sing to you. I really have a nice voice — no really, I do —; so, pick a song and listen to me sing it to you."
The answering note was brief: "Love Sinatra; 'Second Time Around'."
"Singing it to you now, Janie Tierny," he wrote.
"Making me cry now," was her answer.
"Oh, is my voice that bad?" he wrote.
"Watch out, I'll get you, Bud!" came her answer.
"Oops," was his response.
Then he got a: "Thank you for the song; it was lovely and helped me out."
"Good," he wrote back to her. "Now back to being a high powered industrialist here."
"And a good balladeer," she wrote.
The exchange left him smiling, grinning.
TALKING TO GRACIE:
As a matter of fact, he did take some time that evening, while they shared dinner, to talk to Gracie about what had happened.
It was Gracie who brought it up, while they were eating.
"Okay, what?" she said.
"What?" he replied.
"Well," Gracie said next, "look at the way that you're brooding. Something's up and I just am wondering what it is."
"You're gonna think that I'm crazy," he said.
She laughed just a little and said: "No more than I already do."
That made him smile too.
"Let me explain," he said, and he went into all of it. He explained to her the way that the 'relationship' had begun with Jane Tierny and how it had developed. He also told her about the 'jackass' note that he'd sent today and how it had bothered him so much that he'd overstepped a kind of boundary.
He went on to explain what Jane's response had been about the time of year and then his note in return about singing a song for her.
He sighed, once it all had been explained.
She grinned at him then.
"I don't even know what she looks like," he wailed. "She might be 4'10" and weigh 300 lbs for heaven's sake."
Gracie just sat and smiled and let him go on about it and the stupid futility of it. She just kept on smiling, once he had 'run down' and stopped his spluttering.
He looked at his sister then and said: "What?"
"Now don't you get out of sorts with me over what you yourself did," Gracie said, still smiling.
"Will you please tell me what?" he said again then.
"It's just that I know Jane Tierny," she said very quietly.
"WHAT?" he fairly exploded. "YOU DO?"
""Yes," she said softly.
"You mean, I'm here in a kind of agony, a life crisis and all the while..."
"Yep," she said back to him, "That's right."
He put his head in his hands then and shook his head back and forth.
.... There is more of this story ...