Time moves on…imagine a wavy screen that in movies and television often signal a time change…now journey ahead about 40 years…

Last year…after a four-hour session in the dental chair…I had a small stroke and a few months after that…I had a massive seizure…

This nonsense was followed by the not completely unexpected exit of Chuck,  a rather dull and narcissistic husband who couldn’t quite see his way to dealing with either…not that there was much for him to do…or not do.  I have always been rather self-sufficient.

But still…one does expect something during times like these.  Apparently “in sickness and in health” was a marriage vow to which he hadn’t paid much attention.

It is relevant here to also mention the tennis lessons Chuck had started taking a few months  before my stroke.  It is incredibly amusing that I had never known…after all these years of marriage…that Chuck was interested in learning how to play tennis…but apparently it was a “life-long” dream of his.

Enter Sally Merriweather…young, blonde and sporting a cute little pony-tail…was the new tennis instructor at North Shore Country Club.

This is the same club that Chuck had insisted we join a few years ago.  “I need the contacts I’ll make there for my job!” he had explained.  Chuck worked for Lake Superior Luxury Autos in Duluth…so I guess he had a point.

I wasn’t much into the “country club” scene…but I did enjoy the reciprocal play that allowed us to play other private golf courses in the state.  Chuck and I used to play together a lot…until I started beating him on a regular basis.   He soon decided he didn’t have that much free time anymore to spend on a golf course.

Apparently “playing tennis” was not such a time-consuming sport…whatever.

Now enter Rollie Moore, my devoted, long-time friend and brilliant lawyer, who had amazingly secured for me a financial settlement that ensured me more than half of our assets, a hefty monthly alimony check (which I didn’t really need, but which seemed appropriate nonetheless).

He also secured a clear deed to our home and also the luxury cabin further up the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota…both of which I had inherited from my parents…so that was essentially fair.

In a foolish hurry to move on with his ‘new and exciting life’…ding-bat husband Chuck quickly signed the divorce papers…dreaming only of the freedom and joys of a single life.

Remember Sally…the tennis instructor?  She was gone in less than four month…along with the keys and the title to a brand-new Mercedes Benz and several very glitzy and expensive jewelry items…all courtesy of the love-struck Chuck.

I had heard from Nancy, the owner of  “The Sweet Shop”…the best bakery you will ever walk into and the penultimate source for the latest gossip in Rocky Point… that Sally’s  “diamond tennis bracelet” was truly “blinding”.

Karma can be such a bitch…

Annabelle

Just like Henry…I was also seventeen back in 1960…but for me there were no sandy beaches in my hometown of Rocky Point, Minnesota.  (Yes…the same one…)

Nor were there any  beachy-sand volleyball games in the summer sun.

If my friends and I had foolishly tried to surf the great waves of Lake Superior…the lake that defined our little town…we probably would have been cut to shreds by the huge, craggy boulders that hugged its shore.

But it didn’t really matter.  I didn’t need to have a golden tan to accentuate a beautiful  prom dress I had not needed to buy for my senior prom because…

On my prom night the year I was seventeen…I sadly had  no date.

Instead, I was at home in my parent’s massive Colonial that sat on a precipice overlooking the magnificent Lake Superior.

The back of our property ended in a sharp drop-off…maybe a hundred feet.   Every time I walked over and looked down…I got dizzy…and was glad there was a fence onto which I could hold.

My dad had built the fence years ago to keep my brother and me and all our friends from soaring over the edge as we raced around the yard playing whatever games kids played that involved “racing around while not thinking.”

I vaguely remember my parents having heated discussions about what kind of fence was needed to keep her beloved children from imminent death.

My mom wanted something similar to the impressive walls that surrounded Alcatraz prison…but she was willing to take a pass on the ‘gun towers’.

My dad was looking for something a little less intense and one that didn’t block the impressive lake view.

They compromised on a green chain-link fence with little spiky wires on top.  Perhaps it was a little over-kill with the wires but nonetheless… no I knew died in my backyard..

So there I sat…dressed in my favorite flannel pajamas because May in northern Minnesota is always chilly.

I was looking out the huge bay windows from our 4-season porch but the dense fog kept me from seeing further than a few feet.  This was typical Rocky Point weather and I loved it.

I was waving my hands in the air so my newly purchased nail polish, “Pink Lady”, could dry.

I was also listening to my favorite song “In the Still of the Night”…and trying desperately…yet failing…to be not too miserable.

 

More Henry…

Henry’s inheritance and previous wise investments, now afforded him the freedom to travel down whatever paths he chose.

He had no family.  Neither of his parents had brothers or sisters.  And Henry’s grandparents had long since departed from this world.

Five years ago, he and his wife had parted on friendly terms after twelve years of a pleasant marriage. Even though Henry had wanted children…that never seemed to happen.  So now, any decisions were his and his alone.

He bought the rental cabin he had been living in and spent several months trying to be that “DIY” guy he always thought he could be…if ever there was an opportunity and he had the time. He had always lived in apartments in California.

However…after several costly plumbing mishaps and a small electrical fire that Henry quickly controlled…he soon found himself reaching out for professional help.

It was then he decided to become the next Ernest Hemingway but when his stories were either swiftly rejected or simply ignored by literally everyone, he abandoned that idea.

Apparently, Henry’s stories were not as captivating in print as they had been when he, himself, was recounting them on the radio.

So…when the small radio station in Rocky Point had an opening for a late-night host…Henry applied for the job.  He figured this would be a slam dunk…Henry was always very positive.  However, this time he figured wrong.

Even though he had a killer resume and a voice that melted butter…he was politely and very nicely told that they thought he was just a little too old for the job.

(Of course, that is not exactly what the owner had said…but that is exactly what the owner had meant.)

That didn’t stop Henry. He knew what he wanted and he wanted to be back on the radio air waves again…in Rocky Point.

Henry bought the little radio station with an offer the owner could not refuse.

(He also could not refuse nor could he afford a possible age-discrimination lawsuit either.)

Soon…Henry’s self-effacing charm and wit grew a devoted following.

As he had hoped, there was again an eager audience for his stories and observations on life..

Everyone loved Henry…except perhaps the owners of the bigger Duluth radio stations.

Because of the way the radio towers were placed, Henry’s melodic voice was reaching a lot of late-night Duluth listeners…and they began to follow him regularly.

The residents of Rocky Point soon treated him like he had lived there forever and that was just fine with Henry…he felt the same way.

He and Cisco couldn’t have been happier…and he hadn’t even met Annabelle…yet.