A tale of romance by The Star
© 1998 EXTAR International, Ltd. All rights reserved. Single copies for personal, non-commercial use may be downloaded or printed. Any other uses must have prior permission from EXTAR International.
I couldn't believe how lonely I was. How alone I felt.
The only other time I'd felt that way, I let it lead me into the biggest mistake of my life-my first wife! So I set my jaw, wrestled my need for people to a draw, and continued on.
I must confess, my heart wasn't in it. After all, what's the use in pulling off a big business deal, or being chairman of a committee for a successful community event, if there's no one to share the victory?
Surrounded by natural beauty, I couldn't enjoy it, alone.
And the nights... The nights were the worst! More than once, I finally fell into an alcoholic stupor, unable to find rest any other way. My pain was real and enormous. For my wife-the love of my life-had left me.
One moment she was there, my Brenda, a warm fire at whose hearth I warmed my spirit. The next, she was gone. A little vessel in her brain couldn't handle its designed pressure, and killed her.
My anger and despair were enormous. My grief endless.
My loneliness was a bottomless chasm that I didn't know how to bridge.
I continued to work, but my heart wasn't in it.
My daughter stepped up and did what she could for me. Her reward was that I treated her like dirt. Bless her! She still drove the three hours each way to come see me every week and later, every month. Her husband-a very nice guy, really-wasn't thrilled about being left with the kids so much, but he understood. Kris had always been close to me and could feel my hurt. She said she had to do whatever she could to help.
Three years after my wife's death, I was finally able to come to terms with it. Kris saw the changes in me and started hinting, strongly, that I needed to get back into life. By that, she meant I needed to start dating and find some female companionship besides her. I just didn't know how somebody my age went about it. It had been an awfully long time...
"But Kris, there aren't any women around here as good looking as you. Why would I settle for less?" I teased her.
"I know I'm the most gorgeous creature in this part of the state," she teased back, though her words were true, "but Mike is getting a bit concerned about you and about the amount of time I'm taking away from him and the boys."
Actually, I was more healed than I thought. Unconsciously, I'd been checking out the 'available' ladies in our town-and wasn't impressed with the crop. While we had an unusually high percentage of beautiful women for a small town, the good ones were all married... or had something seriously wrong with them, like a drug problem, or room temperature I.Q. The most interesting single women in town were college girls-WAY too young for me.
In our banter, my bright daughter brought me to a process I should have considered long before, if I'd been conscious of the need. Basically, after hearing my litany of what was wrong with the available women in town, she asked me what I wanted in a woman. And by teasing and refusing to leave it alone until I'd thought it through, she led me through the initial stages of solving any problem: Define the problem and identify solutions.
She made me list, over a period of a few months, all the characteristics I felt were necessary in a woman I could be interested in. The end result was fascinating. This 'Dream Woman' had to have these traits and characteristics:
While it wasn't necessary for her to be as drop dead gorgeous as Kris, she had to be substantially above average to look at.
She should have superior intelligence.
She had to have class and be a lady.
It would be nice if she had some talent, some areas of expertise.
She had to be fun to be around, witty, energetic, a leader; yet not 'pushy.'
She could not be 'whiny.'
She needed to be a woman of integrity.
Yet she had to be free of prudish hangups.
She had to be capable of loving deeply and forever.
She had to be committed to an exclusive relationship.
By the time we'd gotten this far, Kris was impressed that I knew what I needed so well. "Well, Honey, your mom was a disaster, as you know. And Brenda was the love of my life. You're all I have left. Although you're my ideal woman in most ways-surely you're beautiful enough-we'd never make it as a couple, even if you weren't my daughter and already happily married... We'd be at each other's throats most of the time.
"I really love you. And I really appreciate the time you've given me. Even when I've been a total crab, I've enjoyed having you around. I love you more than anything. Thanks, Honey!"
"Thanks, Dad," Kris replied with tears in her eyes. "I love you too and wish I could do more for you. Being with you like this is good for me, because I'm able to repay a bit of the love and care you've given me all my life. But you need more. You need your own woman, as I've said from time to time."
"Yes, Kris," I said in a resigned tone. She had indeed said this before. "But how is a fifty-something guy like me going to find a superwoman like we've described? If such a woman exists in this town, she's been married for years. Or she's way too young and would only cause more problems."
"Have you looked around at church, Dad?" Kris asked.
"Yes. I have. We have some remarkably attractive ladies-all married. And some knockout high school and college girls, who are too young to even think about. The only single ladies otherwise are either too militant feminist for consideration or are widows older than I am...
"That's pretty much true of the whole town. There are some knockout ladies, but they're disqualified on other counts-age or marital status"
"Don't give up, Dad. Now that we know what we need to do, we can start working on how to get from here to there.
"And Dad... remember what you taught me? Don't forget to pray!"
The truth is, I didn't seriously consider finding another women at that point. I could live with the loneliness. And the things I'd said about a shortage of suitable ladies in our town were all true. If one came along, wonderful. If not, I'd survive.
Kris, of course, had other ideas. If it weren't for Mike, I think she'd have moved in with me-including into my bed-just to ease my pain and loneliness. She knows I consider her to be the ideal girl, in terms of basic package. And we love each other a lot.
But what she really had in mind all along, was her college roommate and best friend, Miriam.
She and Miriam had gone through a similar exercise. Miriam had endured a brief but disastrous marriage with an ex-military guy she'd met after she graduated from college. When she finally kicked the bum out, she'd gone to Kris for a shoulder to cry on. At one point in her grieving and healing process, Miriam had cried, "All I want is to be married to a good man who will love me! Why is that too much to ask?"
From that point, Kris led her through the process, like she had me later, of listing just what she wanted in a man and what she couldn't tolerate.
Much later, Kris told me that the profile of Miriam's ideal man fit me like a $3,000 suit. So Kris, being Kris, decided to see what she could do as a matchmaker with her dad and her best friend-is that kinky or what? I think, for Kris, it was the game as much as the idea of helping two people she was so very close to.
Over the next few months, when Kris talked me into visiting them, Miriam usually dropped by sometime during my visit. And twice, Kris brought her along when she visited me. I treated her like another daughter and respected her as Kris' closest friend, after Mike.
Kris and I had both gone to Pac-10 schools. I was disappointed when she chose not to follow me to Stanford, and attended Washington instead. She had a great time in college, though, and completed her degree successfully, so I can't complain. And of course, we've had some fun over the years about the relative merits of our schools' football programs. She's had more fun than I, <darn> but it has been interesting.
So when Stanford was playing in Seattle, she insisted that I join them for the game. Playing the role, I wore my letter jacket. (Yes, I can get into the letter jacket... Just don't ask me to button it.) When she and Mike swung by to pick me up, I was surprised to see Miriam in the coach; but it wasn't a big deal as, of course, she went to Washington too.
Our plan was to drive to Seattle on Friday, stay overnight, see the game Saturday, then stay over another night and come home on Sunday. Mike had a nice motorhome that we planned to use as our motel on wheels. The addition of Miriam complicated arrangements, but didn't throw a stick in the spokes. Kris just said we'd make up the dinette into a bed for Miriam, I'd sleep in the bunk over the cockpit and they would have their 'room' in the back.
.... There is more of this story ...