Lemons or Lemonade

by woodmanone

Copyright© 2010 by woodmanone

Romantic Story: Tragedy in man's life, can he overcome it?

Tags: Ma/Fa   Heterosexual  

If you have read any of my other stories you know that they have no explicit sex scenes; this story is no exception.

Constructive comments or critiques are solicited and welcome. If you like or even dislike the story please take the time to comment on it or send me an email. It would be nice if you could rate or vote on the story too. Your comments and ratings help me to learn and grow as a writer.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story and please enjoy.

There are some people who say "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". I say "where the hell is the water and sugar to go with these damn lemons?" I'm not a pessimist, just a realist. It's all well and good to look for a silver lining in the storm but don't forget you have to get through the damn storm to get to it.

Life handed me lemons 21 years ago. I was 25 when life or fate or the gods decided to punch me in the stomach and when I bent over to kick me in the ass and bury me in lemons. This is the story of how I tried to make lemonade for all those years.

By the way, my name is Ray Kelly. For a Computer Science major I keep in good shape by running for a few miles almost every morning to keep my weight under 200.

I was alone and on my own since I was 17. My parents had been killed when I was a senior in high school so I had to work my way through college. I guess I'm not your stereotypical IT nerd.

I had several different jobs during my four years at college. I worked at whatever job was available that paid the most; from a loading dock at UPS to working on the "kill" floor of a slaughter house.

Between my classes and my jobs I didn't have much time for dating but I don't think I would have had too much problem getting dates. I'm not a movie star but at 6 feet with brown hair and blue eyes I was more than presentable. I've been told my best feature was my crazy eyes that seemed to become more piercing, depending on my mood.

Even if I would have had the time, I don't think I would have spent the money for dating; I had to work too hard for it. I guess I became a little shy around women because of my lack of interaction with them.

I was 22 and fresh out of college with a brand new Computer Science degree. The first interview for employment was also my last interview. ABC Construction offered me a position with the company during that meeting.

Maybe I could have found another job but ABC offered a good salary with room for advancement in a company with divisions all over the United States, so I accepted the position in their IT support office located in Clayton, a suburb of St. Louis.

My first day on the job I was very lucky, twice. First my new boss was a really good guy; he wanted me to do well and helped me in every way he could. The second piece of luck was meeting Elizabeth Ann Bailey. She was friendly and very helpful to the new guy too. All in all it was a very good first day.

I saw "Beth" several times a week as our areas of responsibility overlapped. There were no flirting or romantic little asides or lines with double meanings or anything like that. It was just two colleagues working together and enjoying doing so.

One of the reasons that I never thought about "putting a move" on Beth was that I felt she was out of my league. I'm not a bad looking guy but Beth was stunning. She was so beautiful that when she entered room men and some women would stop talking and stare at her. Beth was a brown eyed blond from Amarillo, Texas with long legs and a body just this side of voluptuous.

Her parents had moved from Texas to Missouri when she was twelve. She had been living "up north" for ten years but she still had that Texas drawl in her voice. Words and sayings such as: y'all, hissy fit, walking in tall cotton, and all hat no cattle among others would slip into her conversations. I also used a few "country" sayings as I had grown up in southern Missouri.

Lots of times Beth or I would have to explain what was meant when she or I used one of our down home sayings. It was really funny, some of these "city folk" didn't understand the little girl from Texas or the young man from southern Missouri.

After two months of working together, Beth surprised me one day by joining me at lunch in the company cafeteria. She came into the eating area, looked around, spotted me and headed my way. Beth sat down, looked at me for a long time and then smiled and shook her head.

"You're not going to do it are you? You're going to make me do all the work," she said with a smile.

"I'm sorry Beth, was there something I forget to do?" The last thing I wanted to do was to disappoint her. I was already half ass in love with her.

She shook her head and said, "Well if y'all won't do it, I guess I have to." The look she gave me with her big brown eyes made my heart start beating a little faster.

"What are you talking about?" I was at a loss as to what she was talking about.

"If you won't ask me for a date, I'll just have to ask you. Ray would you like to take me to dinner tomorrow night?" Now Beth was grinning at me as I tried to answer her. "Well would you?"

"I ... I ... I... ," my voice stuttered. It took a few seconds for me to gain control. "Yes I would, very much Beth." I was still surprised at the invitation.

That dinner was the beginning of a romance that built in depth and intensity every time we were together. We learned a lot about each other on our dates; I guess that's what dating is for after all. Politically Beth was a little right of center and I thought she was a little too liberal. Neither of us liked or believed in the politicians in Washington; we thought that the ones on the state level were just as bad.

We liked the same music and the same type of movies; John Wayne and Clint Eastwood were our favorites. Our taste in food was very similar, we both preferred good simple food as opposed to artsy fartsy cuisine. Our tenth date was a weekend trip to my farm in south central Missouri. Well actually it belongs to my older brother Thomas and me. The trip from St. Louis to the farm took about 4 hours.

My parents had left the 600 acres and huge house to us as equal partners. Thomas and his wife, Julie, and their kids Brian and Sally lived on and worked the farm. Beth was a hit with all of my family. My brother told me after our first evening with them that if I let her get away he would shoot me to put me out of my misery.

That first evening, Beth and I were set up in separate rooms. That was my idea because I didn't want Beth to think that I had invited her to the farm just to get her into bed. Everyone went to bed around 11:00 but around midnight Beth tip toed into my room and into my bed. That was the first time that we were intimate. In other words we went at it like bunnies. Beth was enthusiastic and I couldn't have been more excited.

I thought she would sneak back to her room before morning, but she stayed put and said, "Who are we trying to kid?"

The next morning when we awoke in each other's arms, I asked Beth to marry me. I guess the fact that we didn't get out of bed until almost noon was the way that she said yes.

We finally strolled into the kitchen just as Julie was putting lunch on the table for Thomas. They both started to laugh at the look on our faces. I think it embarrassed Beth a little but I was strutting around like a peacock.

Thomas couldn't help himself; he just had to tease me a little. "Y'all might want to oil those squeaky springs on the bed before tonight. I would like to get a little sleep because the noise kept me up most of last night. Oops, bad choice of words I guess."

"Thomas, behave yourself," Julie scolded him laughing as she did.

"Just trying to keep up with you big brother," I teased him back. Beth and Julie giggled and I grabbed Beth in a bear hug. "We are going to get married as soon as possible," I told them.

Our wedding was put together in a hurry for no reason except that we didn't want to wait any longer than necessary. I had only been at ABC for a few months so I couldn't take any time off. If I could have taken a week off and if we had the money to spare we would have gone to Las Vegas and been married there.

We were married at a little church close to the downtown area where we worked. Neither of us had any real deep religious beliefs so we let the minister at the church perform the ceremony. Thomas was my best man and my boss acted as an usher for us. He was as close to a friend as I had at work or otherwise.

Beth's maid of honor was Julie and her kids were the ring bearer and flower girl. The guest list was very small, twenty people at most. Beth walked down the aisle by herself, because her parents were on an extended vacation in Europe and either couldn't or wouldn't come back for her wedding. That surprised and pissed me off.

I think I was more upset about it than Beth. I spent the last six years of my life without parents and I couldn't believe that her folks wouldn't come to their daughter's wedding. They did send a large check as a wedding present. Beth was apparently more upset than she let on.

"If they think they can pay me off like some damn ranch hand, their drilling a dry well." she said. Her eyes were like a cold laser as she looked at the check and then tore it into several pieces. Turning to Julie, she said, "Send the pieces back to them for me please. I'm going to be busy for the next few days."

I realized that as much as I loved her, Beth had depths to her that I hadn't discovered yet. It was the first time I had seen her angry. I hope I never see her anger directed at me, I thought. She would be a handful if she was mad.

We had planned to spend a weekend in a modest motel for our honeymoon because I had no time off available as yet. ABC and my boss wouldn't hear of it. My boss arranged for me to take off Thursday and Friday and the company gave us the use of the suite they kept for visitors at the finest hotel in St. Louis. It was a nice thing for them to do.

The first day back at work we heard all the jokes that newlyweds usually had to put up with. Did you see any of the hotel except for your room and maybe now you two will get some sleep or glad you're back at work so you can get some rest? We heard these and more but didn't care, we smiled and went on doing our jobs.

The first weekend that we could get away after the aftermath of the wedding, we made a return trip to the farm. Beth was the only woman I had ever met that liked to hunt, fish, and camp as much as I did. To her a good time was camping out on a river bank so we could fish all day and make love under the stars.

According to Beth we were happier than a puppy with two peters or pigs in mud; her phrases not mine. But I knew what she meant; I didn't think I could be any happier or more satisfied with my life. We had a few spats and confrontations like all newlyweds. It wasn't all sweetness and light, but mostly it was. And Beth and I never went to bed mad.

One example of the less than wine and roses times was the night of the special dinner. I had seen a recipe for a beef dish in the food section of our daily paper. I cut it out and suggested that it would be something to try. What I didn't realize was that there was a recipe on each side of the piece that I had cut out of the paper.

Beth took an afternoon off, went shopping for the ingredients, and fixed the special dinner for me. She spent over two hours prepping and cooking the meal and set up the dining room table with candles and everything. It was a very nice thing for her to do. Unfortunately she made the wrong dish. She served the dinner and being a stupid male, I asked her, "What's this?"

"That's the dish you pointed out in the paper last week," Beth said, very pleased that she had surprised me and showed me the clipping from the paper.

I must have had a brain fart, because instead of saying thank you, I turned the clipping over, pointed out the other dish, and said, "No, this is the one I wanted."

Now I have no excuse for being so stupid and inconsiderate. My day at work had been, well really bad, but that's no reason to be such an ass, especially where your wife is concerned.

Beth's face got red, not a blush, but an angry red. She picked up the serving plate with the special dish on it, went to our back door, and threw the dinner, plate and all, into the back yard. Beth stomped out of the room and I heard the front door slam.

Maybe it was the dinner being thrown out the back door that clued me in. I had really screwed the pooch this time. Guys use a little common sense before you open your month; if someone, especially your wife, does something nice for you just say thank you. Even if it's not what you wanted or expected, just say thank you. Save yourself a lot of grief. End of sermon.

I went outside to look for Beth but I didn't see her; her car was still there so I knew she hadn't gone far. About an hour later, she came back. She went into the bedroom and slammed the door ignoring me when I tried to apologize and asked her if she was okay.

The smart thing to do is to let her calm down a little before I go talk to her, I thought. I waited for about 30 minutes and then entered the "killing fields" of the bedroom. Beth was still pissed and with a death wish showing in her eyes, she started on me as soon as I walked in.

I apologized and she reamed me some more. Another apology and more reaming. Then I got mad, I guess because she was mad, and I started yelling back at her. This verbal battle lasted for some time. But we had promised never to go to bed angry and we did keep that promise that night. However it took until 2AM before we both said sorry, hugged and kissed, and went to bed. I don't know if we weren't mad anymore or if we were just tired, but we finally got to bed.

This event was the worst argument that we ever had and taught us both a valuable lesson. We never again let our anger override our respect and love for each other. There were still a few little spats but we would take a time out until we could discuss the problem sensibly. A few months later we could talk about that night and laugh at ourselves. But it wasn't funny while it was going on.

One year and eight months after our wedding I found out that there was another level of happiness. Beth and I had a daughter. I think my happiness gland went on the fritz from overwork. Alyssa June, named after my mom and Beth's grandmother, may have been the most beautiful baby ever. I know all parents think that but in this case it was true.

I wasn't one of those husbands that wanted to be in the delivery room with their wife, in fact I would have rather been in an old fashion waiting room. But not to be, I stood by Beth's side as she did her job. I did draw the line at cutting the cord; I told the nurse that I was feeling a little woozy as an excuse and got out of it. Beth and the baby were fine without my participation.

One of the nurses cleaned up the baby, wrapped her in a blanket, and handed her to me. I was supposed to hand her to Beth and then play proud papa. After several minutes the nurse had to remind me to give the baby to Beth; I didn't want to let her go.

I know that if you put your finger in a baby's hand that the baby will grasp your finger, it's a natural reflex for babies. But when Alyssa held on to my finger, I was hooked. That inconsequential little reflex bound me to her for the rest of my life. My heart swelled, I got tears in my eyes, and I lost my voice. Beth beamed at my reaction to our daughter.

Two days later I brought Beth and Alyssa home. Alyssa was a very good baby, her feedings and diaper changes were routine with no unpleasant surprises or drama. She even slept most of the night so that nether Beth or I walked around like zombies due to lack of sleep.

It was a good thing that Alyssa was such a good baby, because I spoiled her rotten. She would be sleeping when I got home from work and I would pick her up. Beth warned me that she had just gotten Alyssa to sleep and that she didn't need to be held. Maybe the baby didn't need to be held but I needed to hold her. After all I had been away from her all day.

Beth understood my feelings and didn't get upset or jealous. She understood that the loss of my parents had something to do with my, well obsession, with Alyssa. Taking care of the baby in the evenings was a good thing, it gave Beth a chance to relax and have some time for herself instead of being a mother on call all the time.

We had called Beth's parents when Alyssa was born but had to leave a message because they were on another long trip. I don't think either one of them were too excited about being known as grandparents.

They sent another large check with a note saying that they would try to fit in a visit sometime in the near future. Beth sent the check back in pieces with her own note telling them not to bother coming because our family didn't need them. They never did come to visit but they did call; however I couldn't get Beth to even talk to them.

The next three years were a nearly perfect period. I had gotten a couple of promotions at work and our financial world was good. Beth worked out of our home doing medical billing so that she could be there for Alyssa. While Alyssa napped Beth would be on her computer slaving away.

I would get home, play with Alyssa and put her to bed. After wards Beth and I would have dinner and spend some quality time together. Every evening we took the time to talk, snuggle, or make love. Life was good.

Then a whole orchard of lemons got tossed at me.

Thomas and Julie had come to the city for a visit and were staying with us having left their children with a neighbor. Beth had to drop off some hard copies of her work at the home office and left Alyssa with them while she ran her errand. It was only supposed to take about 45 minutes and since Thomas was taking a nap, Julie stayed at the house to take care of Alyssa.

On Beth's way home a drunk driver made sure that I would never have my wife with me again. He ran a red light and T-boned our car; hitting the driver's side and killing Beth. The para medics and the ER staff at the hospital did everything possible but she never made it out of the trauma room. Beth died before the staff could get her stabilized.

I rushed from my office after the police notified me of the accident but she was gone before I could get there. On the way to the hospital I called my brother and he met me in the ER waiting room shortly after I arrived. It was a good thing he was there because I basically shut down when I found out that Beth had left us.

The next few days were a total nightmare for me. I don't think I would have been able to handle everything without Thomas and Julie. Thomas helped me with making the funeral arrangements and Julie helped me take care of Alyssa.

Julie sat with me as I tried to explain to Alyssa that her mommy wouldn't be with us anymore. How do you explain to a three year old that some drunken asshole took the most important person in our lives away? I finally told Alyssa that although Mommy loved us both very much that she had to go on to heaven and would wait for us there.

Thomas suggested that I call Beth's parents and let them know about her death. I didn't want to; they hadn't cared enough about her when she was alive to come to her wedding or to come see their granddaughter. Why would they care enough to come to the funeral? I had never met them but I disliked them immensely because of the way they treated Beth.

I called and wonder of wonders, Mr. Bailey wasn't on another trip and actually answered the phone. Identifying myself, I explained what had happened to Beth and gave him the time and place for the funeral. He started to ask some questions but I didn't have the compassion to answer them and hung up.

My brother was sitting at the table with me when I made the call and when I hung up. He climbed on my case pretty good about my spiteful treatment of Mr. Bailey. I tried to defend my position but he reminded me that no matter how they had acted in the past that they were still Beth's parents.

A thousand things were done, all the arrangements made, and the day of the funeral arrived. We had a closed casket at the "viewing" in the funeral home and at the funeral service. The closed casket was a necessity because of the damage inflicted on Beth. In addition I didn't want Alyssa to see her mommy lying in the casket, still and lifeless.

Beth's parents came to the funeral and I finally met them for the first time. At best I was polite to them. I introduced them to Alyssa and let them have a little time alone with her. In spite of how I felt about them, I knew that they were hurting and would always regret their lack of attention to Beth and Alyssa.

Thomas stayed for two days after the funeral and then had to get back home. Their children were staying with a neighbor and the farm needed attention. Julie remained with Alyssa and me to help with the transition to our new life. Again, I don't know how I would have managed without their help.

For two weeks Julie and I interviewed candidates for a combination nanny/housekeeper/cook; in other words a wife but without emotional attachment or the sex. I planned to go back to work and Julie promised to stay for a while longer, but she was anxious to get back home to her own children and husband.

I had been in my office for about three hours when I received a call from a concerned Julie. Alyssa had been asleep when I left for work and when she woke up and found me gone she began to cry.

Julie tried to calm her and explain that I would be home after work but Alyssa continued to be upset. She sat in a corner of her room with tears running down her cheeks saying "Where's my Daddy? I want my Daddy" over and over as she rocked back and forth. Nothing Julie said could calm her down.

I left work and came home immediately, probably driving faster than I should have. When I got home, Alyssa heard me talking to Julie and came running out of her room and into my arms.

"Daddy you came back. Don't leave me again, please Daddy. I'll be a good girl, I promise," Alyssa said as she was crying and hugging me.

I held her on my lap and she stopped crying after a few minutes. The whole time that I held her I kept telling her that I would always come for her and that she was a good girl and that I loved her more than anything. I was having a little trouble talking plainly because I was almost crying too.

Alyssa wouldn't let me out of her sight for the rest of the day. I can do a lot of my work from home and I went into my den to work on the computer; Alyssa followed me and sat in a chair and watched me. I tried to get her to go play in her room but she said she didn't want me to leave again.

I explained to her that I had to go to work the next day but that I would be home that afternoon. I didn't think at three and half Alyssa understood work but I tried to impress on her that I would always come home at the end of the day. That evening between Julie and I, we got Alyssa fed, bathed and put to bed. I had to sit on the bed with her until she fell asleep.

"I think you're going to have the same problem tomorrow Ray," Julie said.

"Maybe I should wait until she gets up before I leave for work. You know, to say good bye. Maybe that way it won't seem like I'm running off." I was grasping at straws here.

The next morning I waited for an hour until Alyssa woke up. I hugged her and kissed her and told her not to worry that I would be back later. She looked very sad as I left but at least she wasn't crying.

Two hours later I checked in with Julie to see how Alyssa was doing. Julie told me that Alyssa was sitting at the window and when asked what she was doing, Alyssa said she was waiting for her Daddy to come home. No amount of coaxing could get her to move away from the window. Alyssa wasn't crying but she wasn't behaving like a normal little girl.

The rest of the week was the same thing. Alyssa wasn't crying but all she would do was sit at the window waiting for me. Once I got home she wouldn't let me out of her sight.

I talked to Alyssa's doctor and explained what was happening. He said that Alyssa was too young to understand death and that all she knew was that her mother had left her and she was afraid that her father would leave her too.

Nothing changed for the next week. Alyssa just wasn't behaving like a normal little girl. This can't go on, I thought. I had to find some way to make Alyssa's life better and I did. If she had a problem with me going to work, then I would work at home. But I couldn't do it without help.

I talked to Thomas and Julie, outlining my idea and they not only agreed but they thought it was a great solution. Being an I T manager I could work anywhere that I had access to a computer and a high speed internet connection. I needed help with the house and tending to Alyssa while I was working so the solution was for Alyssa and me to move to the farm.

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