I awoke in darkness. For that brief moment, not know sure where I was. Rolling on my side I felt for my wife, her side of the bed was empty. At first I thought she had gotten up to use the bathroom in these early hours of the morning, but then I remembered. Her side had been vacant for the last 6 years and I was alone.
Struggling toward consciousness, I realized that I was not in my own bed? Where was I? Then I remembered, I was in Washington, DC. There as an invited guest, asked to speak at the Presidential Inauguration.
Turning to the night table next to the bed, I glanced at the clock. Shit! Pretty soon it would be 6:00am and I would be forced to begin my day. There were the aids, the speech writers, the party faithful, and dozens of other hangers-on all wanting a piece of me.
But I still had a little time to hover in that place, between wake-fullness and sleep, pondering my life, the successes, the failures, the heartbreak, and the hole left in my heart by my missing wife. If she could be here, she would be so proud of her husband. Years ago, when I was elected Governor, she was so excited by all the gala events at the state level, that I thought she might need a tranquilizer.
You see, my wife was the driving force behind my success. Mary was the one that pushed me ever and ever higher. I had been perfectly satisfied being a lowly County Supervisor. But no way was she going to settle for that. Mary wanted to be the Governor's wife, or at least a State Senator's wife.
I rolled over on my back and thought about how it all began.
After three years I was fresh out of the Army in 1969. Luckily, I didn't end up in Viet Nam, I was sent to Korea instead. Not that I wouldn't have gone to Nam, but I just wanted to live a bit longer.
My Army job was a surveyor for the artillery. That sounded pretty safe to me, but at graduation from Survey School (I finished 2nd in my class) I was given a pay raise and promoted. They told me I would be putting in the Forward Observer's positions.
I was really proud of the honor and the promotion, until I had that "Oh Shit" moment. The Forward Observer sat on the front lines and rained "Hell Fire" on the enemy. My job would be to survey in the map coordinates of his spot, so that Fire Direction Control knew his location and could plot the artillery fire from his radio calls.
In other words, my new job would put me right on the front lines. So as you can see, I was glad to go to Korea.
Korea was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division's Artillery's Headquarters Survey Section. Actually it was easy duty.
The "post" was small and located on the side of a mountain. So for the entire year I was there, I walked either uphill or down. There was no such thing as a flat spot.
The only other drawback was saluting. At our Headquarters, we had a "full bird" Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, eight Majors, etc. Do you get the picture? The officers multiplied like rabbits as their rank went down. By the time it got down to 2nd Lieutenant, we had enough to use as bookends.
I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but there were only about 200 individuals on the post. Now, me being an enlisted man, I had to salute until I felt as if my arm would fall off. So you guessed it, I was always volunteering for anything that would get me off post and give my arm a break.
Like I said before, it wasn't such a bad assignment. You see there were not enough of us enlisted guys to pull all those "extra" duties the Army dreames up, like Guard Duty, KP, and such, so Korean nationals were hired to do them. That meant we had our evenings and weekends almost free.
"OK big deal you say!"
Well remember prostitution was legal over there, and really cheap! For $0.50 you could get your pipes cleaned, for $2.00 a quickie and $5.00 got you the whole night. For a 21 year old male with no one waiting at home for him, it was like dying and going to heaven.
It's summer in Korea. The monsoons have stopped, and the dirt roads and trails have turned from mud to dust overnight, or so it seemed. It was the middle of the week, it was noon and I was done with my day's duties.
While it seems that I was goofing off, I actually got started at midnight the night before. The North Koreans had moved extra artillery into the de-militarized zone. I had just returned from the local village at 11:00pm. I had spent a pleasant evening with one of the "working" girls and therefore I was relatively sober (but very drained and satisfied). For some reason, the girls become upset if you are drinking a beer while ... Well you know!
So the Sergeant grabbed me, a couple of other guys and off we went to our side of the DMZ to survey in the new guns. Our guys wanted to be able to direct a hit if they were needed.
A little description of this area is in order now. There are NO paved roads in this area. They are dirt road rutted with wheel tracks and pot holes. So you pounded your body to death driving these roads. And if you were in the vehicle following, besides the pounding, the dust was unbearable. I got lucky and was driving the front vehicle.
Those roads were before you entered the DMZ. You could tell you were entering the DMZ because you crossed a very long bridge. The bridge had explosive charges placed every 10 feet. If the North Koreans decided to come south, that bridge would not be standing by the time they reached it. Unfortunately, that would leave all of us north of that bridge with no way back. I began to feel expendable.
When we finished our survey, rechecked the entire math, and radioed in the results, (Yea, we wanted the North Koreans to know we had them pegged), we started back down south. This whole thing was sort of routine. It seems as if the North Koreans moved something at least once or twice a month. I guess they just didn't want us to get good night's sleep.
Because this happened so often, and because we really could not get some real sleep on post, we were allowed to start our "24 hour" pass to the village when we got back. That's the reason I was "walking to town".
I had a few regular girls that I visited when this happened. The girls I chose were usually out of bed by the time I got there, and starting their daily routines before starting to "work". This way I could grab 4-5 uninterrupted hours of sleep for about $2.00.
This particular day, it was hot and humid. I climbed on the bed, completely naked, and fell promptly to sleep. Not even bothering to climb under the covers. I guess my only attempt at modesty was to sleep on my stomach.
After sleeping 5 hours, I woke up to find Kim sleeping next to me. She was also naked but was sleeping on her back on top of the covers with me. Even though it was evening, I still woke up with my morning "Woody" trying to drill a hole into Kim's mattress. Looking over at her, guess what I wanted to do.
A little lesson in etiquette is due now. This isn't home; you just don't roll over on top, poke in your erection, and go to town. All that will get you is one very pissed off girl and usually a ban from using any of the other girls. A "ban" is something any horny 21 year old will do anything to avoid.
So I started gently kissing her ear, face, and neck, heading south to her breasts. She smelled of bath oil and scented soap. That smell indicated she had visited the bathhouse before coming to bed. It also indicated she had not started into her chosen field of work yet today.
I kissed and nibbled at her very gently. I did not want to interrupt her sleep too abruptly. As I kissed and sucked on her breasts, I began to notice her arousal. Her nipples were beginning to elongate. Her breathing was starting to deepen. I was actually starting to arouse her.
I was shocked!
The "working girls" didn't make love to their customers. They didn't actually even fuck them. They sort of just laid there, whispering things like, "Time almost up", or "hurry up", or "done yet"?" and let the customer do all the work. For the guy it was like masturbating, except it was into a warm body instead of a blowup doll.
That's why I felt like a hero when I noticed her reacting to my show of affection.
Unlike many young men, I actually read Penthouse as well as looking at the pictures. My favorite read was the letters to the editor.
There were many things I wanted to try that I had learned by reading them. So I began applying that knowledge to her body. (OK, so she should have been awake, but what the hell... )
Her belly sucked in as I licked and tongued her navel. Her hips started moving softly, without her control. I kept kissing and licking lower. Her breathing deepened even more. She was in that state where she wasn't quite asleep, but not awake yet either.
She was just caught up in the sensations.
My tongue finally reached her pubic hair. It was soft and silky, smelling of fine soap. I probed further and found her pubic dimple. I probed it with quick flicks of my tongue. She moaned and raised her hips to feel more of my tongue in it.
I moved my head between her legs. I flattened out my tongue and followed that wonderful valley from her pubic dimple down until my head was stopped by the mattress. She again raised her hips, inviting me to lick down further.
And I did.
I was novice at the fine art of oral sex. But I was learning quickly, I noticed a different smell that I could not identify. It was mixed in with the soap and body lotions I could identify. I didn't know it at the time, but it was to become my favorite female smell.
It was the smell of a woman in heat, ready to share her total self with her mate.
I shifted my position to between her legs and was awarded by her spreading them far enough apart to allow me between them.
I licked her again.
This time faster and with greater pressure. I was again rewarded with a moan and more hip movement. To be exact, her hips lifted off the mattress.
I began to feel braver. I pointed my tongue and started sliding it up and down her slit, pushing deeper in with every stroke. By now she was completely out of control. She was pounding her hips off the mattress and moaning continually.
One of us was in heaven. The other one felt his ego get a tremendous boost.
Then it happened. My tongue found her magic spot and she started her orgasm. Her legs tightened around my head so I couldn't move. The only things I could move were my mouth and tongue.
And move them I did.
I licked and sucked her magic spot. She went crazy. I noticed that there was a lot more moisture than I could attribute to my licking her. I put two of my fingers into her and discovered she was soaked. I started moving my fingers in and out of her in time with my tongue. She went crazy! She was screaming and jerking uncontrollably. She was in continuous orgasm.
Suddenly she stiffened and just stopped moving, collapsing on the bed motionless. I panicked thinking I had somehow injured her. I quickly slid up the bed and grabbed her head. Her eyes opened, she put her arms around my neck, kissed me deeply, and said "thank you" in broken English.
From that moment on, I learned that there was a lot more to sex than just sticking it in and going to town. I learned that giving pleasure to a woman gave a man the feeling of the greatest power of all, and she returned the favor, times ten.
I no longer had to pay for sex the rest of the time I was in Korea. It seems that the "working" girls in the village talked and I became something of a hero to be tried by many others, always with Kim's permission of course.
I was brought back from my daydream by a pounding at my bedroom door. I guess they couldn't wait for the desk to process my wakeup call. Then I heard a little voice calling, "Grandpa, Can I come in?"
It was Samantha my favorite granddaughter." Favorite Granddaughter?" Just ask her, that's what she tells everyone.
"Go Away! There's no one home" I yell, while putting on my robe.
The door pops open and this little blond headed ball of fire, dressed in pink, attacks me. She jumps up and grabs me around the neck, covers me with kisses. And then scowls at me.
"You forgot your cane" she scolds me. And off she goes to find it and bring it to me.
"Mommy and me don't want you falling down again and hurting yourself" she lectures me.
Then I feel old and frail again. I'm only in my 50's but need a cane to help me keep my balance, the result of a stroke 6 years ago. My granddaughter needs to remind me to be careful. At 4 years old, she's old way beyond her years.
"Samantha! Are you bothering your grandfather already?" Says my daughter Danielle walking into the bedroom. She and her husband Bill are using one of the other bedrooms in this suite.
This luxury suite is one of the finest in Washington, DC. It is completely paid for by my political party. I guess it's one of the perks of reaching the "big-time" in politics. I guess someone thinks it will impress me. They don't really know me very well.
"Grandpa forgot his cane and I was just getting it for him." The little "rat" told her mother.
Of course her mother gave me the "look". How many times has she lectured me about just that simple thing? "Dad!" she said.
My daughter grabbed her daughter and starts leaving the room telling me to get cleaned up because breakfast would be served in an hour.
My daughter, Danielle is so very much like her mother. Here I am one of the most powerful men in the United States, Governor of New York State, and she still orders me around. And I guess I'll accept her orders because I love her.
I picked up my cane and started toward the bathroom remembering how this all started.
It was just before Christmas when I was discharged, the Army felt that I could get home in time to spend the holidays with my parents. My mother was thrilled! Her little boy (I was 6 ft tall and weighed 180 lbs! But you know Mothers) was home safe and sound.
Since I had just served my country, I wasn't in any hurry to go back to work. My Dad wanted me to join him in the family business, as my two younger brothers had. I learned early in my life that my Dad and I could not work together. You see there was the right way, the wrong way, and Dad's way of doing everything. My brothers could put up with that, but I never could. All I had to do was pick up a hammer, when Dad was around, give it an hour, and we were at each other's throats.
I don't mean to give the impression that we hated each other. That was not the truth. We loved each other, but we just couldn't work together, or discuss deep subjects. The rest of the time we were typical father and son.
Since I really didn't have a clue what I wanted to do for a living. I decided that I would draw unemployment while I made up my mind.
So off to the state unemployment office I went. One of their rules was the "client" had to do job interviews while drawing checks.
So I was sent to the local public utility for my first interview. Just my luck, they hired me. So there I was learning the ropes in Customer Service.
I never did manage to draw an unemployment check.
I loved the work. I got to wear a suit and tie and help people with their problems. It sure beat working with my family on dirty construction sites.
The veteran employees, who had burned out in the job, no longer really helped the customer. They basically told people, "If they didn't like it. They could take their business elsewhere".
Neat trick since we were the only company to sell gas and electric in the area. I resisted that attitude and learned to really work to help the customer. Little did I know how valuable this would be in my later life.
Before I went in the Army I had dated one of a pair of sisters. My date was a "good catholic girl" and I got "nothing" (which was all I was looking for at that time in my life). But she had a younger sister who had a boyfriend. The boyfriend (Pete) and I became pretty good friends while we both dated the sisters. When I returned from service, I looked him up.
Well I got the surprise of my life when I finally found him. In the three years I was gone, he married the sister, had a new baby girl, and his father-in-law had gotten really, really rich. It seems that his little family business caught the eye of some huge multinational corporation which bought them for a massive amount of money. Pete was living the good life.
Before you ask, the sister I had dated was married, had moved to some exotic location with her husband and was living off Daddy's money. (So much for the easy life for me.)
Pete and I had lunch together and basically brought each other up to date on our lives. So I wasn't surprised to receive an invitation to a costume party at his house when October rolled around. I grabbed a girl I was seeing, and off we went.
The party was a success. But I did notice that Pete and his wife were traveling in some powerful company. At least half of the guests there were local politicians. It seemed Pete had joined the big time.
As the holiday season approached, I found that I was invited to a lot of parties through him. These parties had one thing in common. Republicans! And anyone who was anyone in the Republican Party was at these parties. The impressive thing was they actually started talking to me, asking my ideas, impressions, and just making me feel as if I belonged. Me, just a poor, working class guy!
On the down side my girlfriend was a Democrat, soon I was attending these parties alone.
I really don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden, I was going to Republican Party meetings and caucuses. Don't get the idea I was there as an important contributor, unless you count getting coffee, soft drinks, and extra chairs a major political contribution. But I fell in love with the political process there.
It was at one of these meetings, I saw her. She was beautiful. She had long blond hair, stunning blue eyes, and a body to die for. I think I fell in love with her at first sight. Now she was with a delegation from downstate. They were sent to make sure we "hicks" knew what the party line was and followed it blindly.
That was my first taste of party politics. I didn't like it, but knew enough to keep my mouth shut around these "Big Shots".
I couldn't keep my eyes off my new love; I knew she was way out of my league. She lived in a section of the state where the average home cost a million dollars or better. She talked with that Ivy League school accent and dressed in outfits that would have cost me a month's salary. (I found out later it was more like 6 months pay).
Later that evening, when a downstate representative was lecturing us, and being really obnoxious, she glanced over my way and a little grin, as if to say, "Yeah! He's really a jerk".
When I agreed with her by a simple nod, I knew I had just made a friend for life.
Soon the meeting wound down, and they left in their limo for the airport and their private jet back to New York City.
We wouldn't meet for again for years.
A few months later there was an emergency meeting of the local party leaders. It seems one of their candidates was caught by his wife with his fingers in another man's wife's "honey pot".
The meeting was to pick his replacement on the ticket. This particular spot was for a seat in the state legislature that was held by a long term Democrat, who was not expected to lose.
I was in the kitchen area making a fresh pot of coffee, when I heard my name being called. I stuck my head out the door and yelled that the coffee was almost ready and I would bring it out.
Well that brought the house down.
They started laughing, so hard I was sure I would soon need to call 911. When the local party chairman was able to bring himself under control, he said, "You've just been voted to be our candidate for the State Senate seat".
After I got back up off the floor, they sat me down and explained why they wanted me. It seems that they have been watching me the last few years and felt I had everything they needed.
They also felt I would not win this seat, after all it was held by a long term Democrat, but the experience I gained would be invaluable further down the road.
It seems they had plans for me.
I started to stutter the reasons why I couldn't accept, but these guys would not take "no" for an answer. There was no denying it; I'd been railroaded into accepting a place on the ticket. So my name was officially on the ballot.
"Scared shitless" was an excellent description for me!
Thus began my Political career. I was sent all over the district, to meet and greet the voters. Now I really didn't have a clue how to give the "chicken in every pot" speeches politicos were famous for. So I just started by introducing myself and asking them if they had any questions for me and what they would want me to do.
I guess that defined my campaign style.
If I was talking from a stage, I'd grab the mike off the podium; sit down with my feet dangling off the edge, and say, "Here I am! Let's talk."
The voters loved it.
They would open up to me and discuss their problems, their dreams, and their hopes. I couldn't solve all their problems, but once a problem was voiced, suggestions popped up all over the audience.
There were usually some political activists sneaking into these meeting with the express purpose of disrupting everything. They didn't succeed. They were shouted down by the people who actually wanted to see the meeting succeed.
Sometimes I feared for these activist's safety and waded into the crowd to protect them.
Somewhere along the way, I was discovered by the press. And they liked me.
They started showing up at my rallies. At first they kept to the back, just took pictures and watched. Soon, however, they were asking questions and participating like all the other voters.
Needless to say, I usually got "good" press.
When that second Tuesday in November rolled around, I won. I'd like to say it was a landslide, but it wasn't. I won by under 1000 votes. (Hey, New York State was a Democratic stronghold, after all.)
The night of the election I was in my local party's ball room awaiting the election results, when they told me I had a phone call. It was from my opponent, conceding the election. He was a class act. We talked on the phone for the next hour and ended becoming fast friends.
As the years went on, I developed my style as a Politian. I represented my district. I saw to their needs, wants, and desires. I refused to play politics. I voted against my party as often as I voted with them.
I represented the people, not a political ideology.
I was elected to a second term, unopposed.
During my years in the State Senate, I became fast friends with John Bricker, my first opponent. When I was back in my district we'd meet for dinner, a cigar, and a little brandy at his home or his club.
And of course we'd talk politics. He missed the wheeling and dealing that happened behind closed doors in the senate. I'd bring him up to date on the goings on and he'd fill me in on all the players and how to "get around" them. He was my best friend, like a second father to me, as I took the place of the son he never had.
All these years and I never found a woman to love, a woman to marry and raise a family with. Oh there were plenty of women around. I was a man of power; I was a State Senator, in the news, and on TV. The women were there. I just used them for sexual relief. There was no emotional bonding. Some of them were just foe one overnight, and some were longer affairs.
But they all ended up leaving me because I just wouldn't commit. Something was always missing in those relationships.
One night after a fine dinner with John, we were sitting on his deck discussing politics, smoking fine cigars and sipping brandy, when he changed the subject,
"Why haven't you found a woman yet?"
"What?" I was floored by his question.
He immediately went into the fine points of having a wife. Besides the cooking, cleaning, and family-raising, she would also be a great political asset. Nothing looks finer to the voters than a man and his family standing before them, reflecting their values.
I took another puff on my cigar, and chased it with a sip of brandy, and thought about what he said.
Then I remember the beautiful blond headed woman I saw many years ago at a political meeting and my heart skipped a beat. So I explained to him how I met Mary, her beauty, her wealthy background, and her being the standard I compared all my other dates too.
And I guessed I still loved her even after seeing her only once.
He questioned me about her, and the others that had attended that meeting so many years ago. He went on about an hour, and then his age got the best of him. We said goodnight, and he retired to bed as I showed myself out.
Over the next few weeks, I completely forgot about the conversation.
About a month later he invited me to dinner at his club. Since this was about the normal time span between our meetings, I didn't think anything about it. We were deeply into a discussion about a current piece of the budget, when I spotted my dream woman walking across the dining room in our general direction. She seemed to be looking for someone.
All of a suddenly John was on his feet, waving his arm and calling, "Mary!" She saw him and her smile lit up the room. She came over to our table and started apologizing for being late.
My mentor had set this meeting up, the sly old dog! I already loved him like a second father, and this kindness from him made me love him even more.
Somehow, I managed to remember my manners, and stood to hold her chair as she joined us at the table. A wave of John's hand summoned an attentive waiter to take Mary's drink order. By the time her cocktail reached our table, John was half-way through recounting my tale of having seen her all those years ago, and how I'd been so awe-struck by her beauty.
I was dead-certain that Mary could feel the heat of my blush, even across the table from me, and I was mentally evaluating the wisdom of pleading the need to visit the men's room sp I could reclaim my cool, when she reached across the table and laid a soft hand on mine.
"I guess that's one more thing I owe you for, John," she told him. "I've never forgotten Tom's handsome, rugged face, either. And I've had ample time to regret that our respective situations, that night, denied us the chance to actually meet. Thank you for seeing to it that we have this second chance!"
At this point, the waiter cleared his throat to let us know that he was still standing by, waiting to take our dinner orders. We got that matter taken care of quickly, sending him on his way to the kitchen, and then settled into an easy three-way conversation.
Somewhere in the midst of that comfortable chat, our meals arrived. I ate mechanically, not really tasting the food. It was as if my body couldn't spare my tongue the necessary attention, my focus being solely on Mary. And it seemed to me — hopefully, my opinion wasn't biased — that Mary was experiencing similar sensations. It certainly seemed that her eyes were as glued to me as mine were, to her.
Eventually, we finished our dinner. Both Mary and I pleaded being too full for dessert, and settled for an after-dinner drink. John ordered brandies all around, and sent our waiter off to procure them. Moments later, he returned with three snifters, placed them in front of us, and then leaned down and whispered in John's ear.
"It seems that I have an urgent call from one of my clients," John sighed as the waiter departed. "I'm afraid that I have to leave. Will the two of you please forgive me?"
"Of course, John," Mary smiled sweetly at him. "Go take care of your client. Tom and I will be just fine."
"Do you have a way home?" He asked her.
"I took a cab to get here," she replied. "I'll get one to take me home, when I'm ready."
"Or I could give you a lift," I volunteered.
"That would be wonderful, Tom," she nodded. Her smile, however, told me that this was just what she was hoping would happen.
"Then I must be going," John smiled. "Have a pleasant evening, you two!"
With that, he turned and left the dining room.
"You do realize, don't you, that there's no client waiting for him?" I asked Mary, once John had passed beyond the doorway to the foyer.
"Of course!" she giggled. "The old dear brought us together, saw that we were getting along well enough, and then bowed out so as not to become an impediment to our getting to know each other better. I'll have to figure out some way to thank him."
"I'll be calling my tobacconist, in the morning," I nodded, "and have a box of his favorite cigars sent to his office with my sincere thanks."
"Then, you're a cigar smoker, as well?" she asked me.
"Guilty as charged," I shrugged, suddenly regretting my comment. "Does the discovery upset you?"
"God, no!" she shook her head vehemently. "I've been around cigar smoke since the day I was born! Politicians and cigars go together almost as well as coffee and cream!"
"That's good," I grinned at her, making a point of wiping my forehead in relief with an exaggerated gesture.
"To be perfectly honest, I've been known to enjoy a good cigar myself, on occasion," she revealed, leaning toward me and speaking in a low, conspiratorial tone. "Just not in public. For some reason, society seems to have a negative opinion of women who smoke cigars. I wonder what they would say, if they knew that the First Lady indulges..."
"You're kidding!" I gasped. "Pat Nixon... ?"
"Oh, not the really big ones that most men favor," Mary shook her head. "They're only just a bit larger than one of those new one-hundred-millimeter cigarettes, but they're most definitely cigars!"
"How do you know this?" I asked.
"Dad and the president are old college fraternity brothers, and the president still picks Dad's brains about a few things. We've been invited to informal dinners at the White House a few times. After dinner, the men break out their cigars and head for one of the small drawing rooms, while the ladies are left to chat about more mundane topics. Among friends, the First Lady is a little more ... relaxed."
I was in heaven. Mary was beautiful, charming, and a great conversationalist. She was smart, witty, and she seemed very much to like me.
And if our relationship went as far as I found myself hoping it would, I wouldn't even have to worry about being exiled to the garage or the patio to enjoy my occasional cigar!
Eventually, the evening grew late. I had an early appearance at the State House, the next day, and Mary also confessed to having a full agenda planned. Though, that wouldn't have been the guess of anyone who saw us standing on her front porch. A simple goodnight kiss turned into more, and it was fully half an hour before she stepped inside and closed the door gently between us.
Not, of course, before I had managed to secure her promise to have dinner with me again, two nights hence.
We started dating. I loved her. We were soon a couple.
Mary appeared everywhere I was. When the Senate was in session, some days she was in the gallery when I was speaking, some days she was in the lunch room. She was always there, and I was falling head over heels in love with her.
She would stop in my Senate office with lunch, lock the door and we'd have sex, never getting around to eating, lunch that is. My secretary claimed that we put rabbits to shame. (I always thought we were quiet?)
There were some days; I just about could walk back to the Senate chambers. Mary didn't leave my office on those days; she said she couldn't get her legs closed. When I returned to my office, I kissed her boo-boo. We were usually the last people in the building when we left.
We were married one year later. With her at my side, I now felt complete.
Mary became the perfect wife. She was everything I could ever want. Within two years she gave birth to our daughter Danielle, three years later Tom Jr. She was the perfect wife and mother, standing at my side at political events, the loving wife and mother.
The press loved her, almost as much as she loved the attention from them.
One day I got a phone call that my old friend and mentor, John, had died. He was the elder statesman of the state's Democratic Party. They were doing a tribute to him on prime time television. All the important Democrats were asked to speak. The Republican Party was also asked to provide a speaker. They asked me.
The night of the tribute I was slated to speak at the end of all the Democratic speakers and just before the Governor. My party had some of their best speech writers draft a spectacular tribute to John.
All of which amounted to about 10% of my total speech. The rest was pure politics.
When my turn to speak came, I walked on stage and up to the podium; it was a very elaborate set up. It had multiple microphones and two state of the art projection systems, so that I could read "my" speech without my eyes ever leaving the television cameras.
I guess the powers to be had forgotten the deceased was my best friend, because they almost fainted when I walked up to the stand, removed one of the mikes, walked to the edge of the stage and sat down.
The spotlight guys were fast, they illuminated me as if it was all planned. The television guys were a little slower. The stage manager was pleading with me to stand up and get on the mark, but I refused.
I started the speech by introducing myself and said,
"John was my best friend. And I sure will miss him. I'm a Republican and he was a Democrat, but we never let that get in the way of us being friends".
The audience started applauding and didn't stop for the next few minutes. When they settled back down, I went on to explain our friendship. How he helped me be a better person, helped me to understand the political process, and most importantly how he introduced me to my beautiful wife.
My allotted 15 minutes stretched out to an hour, and the tears were running freely down my face toward the end.
I finally ended my eulogy by looking to the heavens and saying,
"John, when my time comes, I hope you will allow me to continue being your friend. And if they allow it up there, I'd like to continue our after dinner brandy and cigars".
I ended by saying, "I'm going to miss you a lot old friend".
At that point I lost it and broke down crying. My lovely wife ran on stage wrapped her arms around me and walked me off stage.
They told me later that there wasn't a dry eye in the house and even some of the hardnosed television anchors had lumps in their throats.
The Governor then spoke for his allotted time. It was your typical "Chicken in every Pot" speech. He wasn't exactly booed off stage, but it was deathly quiet as he walked off.
One year later I was elected Governor.
In 1992, I was just completing my first term and getting ready to run for re-election. My last four years in office was a real learning experience. I'd never thought I would ever get this high in the political process. And I had my work cut out for me. I pissed some people off, and moderately angered a few more, but generally succeeded in making the state a little better place in which to live.
I didn't let the power and glory go to my head. I tried to hold "Town Hall" style meetings every month. My style of sitting on the edge of the stage and just carrying on conversations with the folks still produced open dialog between us. Everyone attending loved the open conversation, the ability to walk up to me and talk. Everyone but my security detail that is. They had kittens every time someone hugged me or walk up and just shook hands.
About one month before Election Day, my re-election committee decided that my wife should hold a news conference extolling the virtues of one of her favorite charities. So there I stood behind her offering support for her first time behind the microphones. She read a prepared statement explaining the charity, its goals and achievements.
Then she made the biggest mistake of our lives. She opened the floor to any questions from the press.
The first few were soft ball questions asked by reporters who realized she was scared and nervous. Then came the reporter from one of the tabloids, he had a large manila envelope in his hand. I was expecting a hardball question and stepped up behind my wife.
Little did I know how hardball it would turn out to be.
Stepping up to the microphone he began by addressing my wife by her first name,
"Mary, does your husband, the Governor, know that neither one of your children are his? To be more precise, they both have different fathers? I have DNA tests proving this?"
I immediately stepped up to the podium to defend her, when I looked into her face. I could tell by the look of horror and shame on her face, it was all true.
She looked at me and mouthed," I'm sorry." Her eyes filled with tears, and then she turned and ran.
My world turned black and I could feel myself falling.
I awoke later two weeks later in a hospital bed, my son and daughter by my side. It seemed I had been in a coma.
They were both college students by then, but looked like they had been through hell. I smiled at them.
My son jumped up ran to the door and yelled," He's awake". My daughter began crying.
For the next hour or so, I was poked, prodded, and examined by just about every professional in the hospital. Well maybe not the whole building, but at least on this floor. Finally they told me what happened.
I had had a stroke. It seems a small blood vessel in my brain had decided to spring a leak. It resulted in my left side being completely paralyzed.
I was assured that with hard work and physical therapy, I would regain most of the usage in my left side.
I was devastated.
When my children were allowed back in the room, I asked how their mother was holding up under all this stress since she was in the room. They looked at each other and my daughter said,
"We don't know Dad. She ran off the stage when you collapsed and hasn't been seen since."
Then the memories flooded back from that moment two weeks ago. And I cried. The love of my life had gone leaving me, a hole in my heart that she had once occupied, and a nagging question, "Why?"
I'm sitting with my family around the breakfast table, surveying the remains of a very fancy meal. My mind wanders again.