To say that these past nine months had been a bummer for Ken Winters would be a gross understatement. The bad times started when Joyce, his wife of thirty two years who wasn't feeling well was diagnosed with late stage cancer. There was nothing that could be done to treat the disease and she passed away three weeks after she had received that dreaded diagnosis.
Joyce was a loving, beautiful, and popular lady. Her loss was devastating for Ken. The turnout for the wake and funeral was large, which a tribute to her, but it only served to constantly remind Ken of what he had lost with her passing. She told Ken before she passed that she wanted him to be happy and in her final days told him not to mourn for her but to get on with his life.
He tried to do what she wanted but it was difficult. Disposing of her clothes and personal items were constant reminders of her and kept Ken in a somber mood. His two daughters and their families tried to help him overcome this loss but the constant memories he had of Joyce made getting on with his life very difficult. His two daughters lived in other states and while their offers of help and encouraging him to move closer to them were nice, he didn't want to burden them and affect their lives. He told them he would consider moving to where they lived to end their requests but he knew that he wouldn't be moving. They had their own lives to live and he didn't want to hinder or impinge on them with him living by them.
Where to now live was a decision that needed to be made. He had a townhome in Arlington Heights, a northern Chicago suburb, and a condo in Bonita Springs, Florida. The condo in Florida was a luxury item made possible by the income from Joyce's teacher pension that was reduced by fifty percent with her death.
Ken was receiving a pension from a large chemical company where he had worked as a district sales manager. He didn't like what he saw happening when upper management started tightening expenses and reducing employees. There was a buyout offer which contained good retirement benefits which had him become a retiree at age fifty eight.
The good retirement benefits didn't last when upper management thought they could save some money there. The retiree medical plan was abandoned and they gave the retirees a stipend of one third of what they had been paying to them to purchase to their own medical insurance instead. Management later decided that the paid up life insurance policy all the retirees received had in some magical way become a term life policy and the retiree could pay the premium if they wanted to keep it.
Ken thought that the company share values would have a steep plunge if the stockholders were aware of the incompetency of upper management and not just as it pertained to employee benefits. They were cutting back on the number of employees that provided customer service while increasing upper management employees which was going to translate into a no growth situation. He was glad he retired when he did.
It would be a little tight financially, but it was still possible for Ken to own both properties if he wanted to. He didn't like the idea of watching his pennies too closely which made him decide to sell the Florida condo and rent when he visited Florida in the winter time. This was his cost effective decision as renting would be less expensive.
Ken liked visiting Florida in the winter because of the warmer weather and the activities it afforded. Golfing and fishing were things that he liked doing but those activities were done during the day. The nights however made for some lonely times. He knew a few people who lived there full time and he had made friends with some snowbirds like himself. There was a golf association he had joined that played at various courses twice a week. He was never a good golfer and now had a twenty one handicap but it was a sport he enjoyed participating in. The social aspect of golf that it offered was something that very few sports offered for someone in his age group. It was as it was advertised 'A game for a lifetime'.
Golf, was in fact a 'game' for him but he became a little disturbed when he watched a PGA tournament on television and heard the announcers refer to golf as a 'game'. A 'game' hell, it was a multi-million dollar business for them and the players. His feelings were that this business comment applied to all professional sports. Ken just cringed when he heard million dollar salaried players talked about the 'game'.
Ken had gone down to Florida for the winter and he put his unit up for sale after some cleaning and disposing of Joyce's personal items. The realtor gave Ken her opinion on what the value of the condo was but he thought she was low in her valuation in order for her to make a quick sale and commission. He told her the price he wanted and said that he would only slightly come off of his price.
The second couple the realtor brought to look at the condo made an offer that was ten percent under Ken's asking price. He countered with a one percent drop in his asking price and said he would go no lower as his price included the furnishings and emphasized the covered parking. The buyers accepted his price and agreed to Ken's condition of letting him stay in the condo until the end of March.
Coming back to northern Illinois gave Ken a sense of relief. Florida was nice and he probably would go back to spend his winters there but maybe he would also spend some time with his two daughters' families since Texas and New Mexico weren't bad places to winter in.
Ken tried to resume his life and activities now that he was back north. He started golfing with a group of his men friends that played every Wednesday. He was also member of a golf club that played once a month and this group consisted of both men and women.
His men friends, knowing that Ken was a widower, made some remarks that Ken should start dating and suggested he ask out Kate, who was a member of the group that golf on Sunday. He thanked them for their suggestion but said he would decide if and when he would ask anyone out. He did admit to them that he thought Kate was a nice looking woman. She was the only single woman in this golf club or among his acquaintances who he thought was attractive.
Ken had been golfing buddies with Bob Burns, who was Kate's husband, before he passed away from a sudden heart attack. While he knew Kate had been a widow for six years, Joyce had told him things about Kate to include things Kate had said since Bob's passing. Kate had once said to Joyce that she wasn't looking to get re-married and wasn't interested in dating. Ken knew that Jim Grace, one of the older members of the golf club had asked her out once but Kate had come up with a reason to turn him down. She later told Joyce that she wasn't interested in going out with someone who was sixteen years older than her at this stage of her life. Joyce said that Kate had some strong opinions and wasn't afraid to voice them.
It was Ken's observation that Kate was about five foot nine inches tall and around one hundred and thirty five pounds. She had a thin frame with a small waist and butt, but her breasts, which she didn't emphasize in the way she dressed, were large and probably a D or double D cup. She was facially attractive with her short dark hair. He had thought she would rank probably number two in attractiveness and desirability of all the women in this golf club. Joyce had ranked number one and he knew he could honestly say that without any prejudice on his part.
The people encouraging Ken to ask Kate out were apparently not limited to men only. Ken found himself paired up with Kate in a two person best ball tournament format at a Sunday golf outing. Barbra Kinsall the tournament director had made this pairing. He wasn't against this pairing since he enjoyed being with an attractive woman but he knew his male friends would ask how things with Kate went when the tournament was over. Whether or not he asked her out was one question he expected he would be asked.
Golfing with Kate admittedly was enjoyable. With a thirty eight handicap, she wasn't that good of a golfer, but she played fast and was pleasant company. He especially enjoyed watching the wind blow against the loose blouse she was wearing which confirmed the sizeable rack she had.
As they were riding in the golf cart Ken said, "I don't know about you, but my friends are saying that I should ask you out on a date. I'm sure this pairing is part of their grand scheme for me to do that."
"Oh, I'm hearing the same thing from my friends as well. I know they mean well but I would just wish they would quit worrying about me and stop trying to play matchmaker."
"Joyce once said that you said you weren't interested in dating."
"I know that I didn't have any interest in doing so for a while after Bob passed, but I am not against it."
"You turned Jim down when he asked you out."
She laughingly said, "I'd still would turn down a date from someone who is sixteen years older than me."
"Would you turn down an invitation to go out from someone who is three years older than you?"
Moving her head back a little as she looked at him she said, "Are you asking?"
He hesitantly said, "Yes I am."
"Okay, as from what Joyce said about you, I think you're a nice guy. We can go out but let's not advertise that we are. That is something our friends don't need to know. Where do you want to go?"
"Do you like baseball?"
"I can take it or leave it, why?
"The minor league team out here has some night games and they treat baseball as a game and not so much as a business. Would you like to go with me to the game? It should be a fun time. We could get something to eat before the game starts."
.... There is more of this story ...