All along the kids have seen virtually everything that has gone on in my new life in North Carolina. As they’ve seen and been told, and in many cases you, too, my nearly five years here have had roughly equal shares of some good and some bad, although I think the good has nosed ahead of the bad as of late by a comfortable margin.
Last week’s letter is a recent example of how the good has extended its lead. It is all part of simply picking up the pieces and moving on. It is as we all do. We all have a past but hopefully a future, too. Ellen and Reid have had bits and pieces of the new situation sent their way but this is their first inside look at the larger picture. As I have fumbled my way down this road, it’s been quite a path of trial and much error to reach this juncture, but here I am.
April 4, 2011
Ellen/Reid: By the time you have opened this letter, we will know of Butler’s Monday night fate. I’ve wondered, aloud sometimes, how they’ve managed to get this far, but they have slain their share of Goliaths along the way, and what’s one more in UConn? I may be AWOL on the telecast because I’m just too nervous to watch.
Well, it’s about time you guys got to know a little more about Felicia. You’ve been on the periphery about this for some time – an allusion here, another allusion there.
She’s a North Carolina girl, from Shelby, which is about 50 miles west of Charlotte just north of I-85. About the size of Ames, I would guess. But she’s lived in CLT for quite some time, and has two kids just about your ages (Suefan, 26) and Kenneth (23). Felicia is a nurse by training (RN) and she works in the specialized psych unit of the big local hospital system. I don’t see how she does it, working with people who just stepped out of an alien spacecraft or see themselves as Napoleon incarnate. And those are just the easy-to-handle cases. In some ways it’s fitting that she works with nut cases because that makes it a little easier for her to deal with the likes of me.
We’ve been together on and off for almost three years, and virtually all of the past 20 months. I’ve got 10 years on her, and whenever she mentions how hard it is to grow old, she gets the evil eye. She’s very fit and health conscious, none of which has rubbed off on me, and we spend a lot of time together, at least on the weekends. To her credit, she’s not a golfer, yet, and the thing that she really enjoys is just sitting on the back of the bike. I wouldn’t be riding nearly as much if she wasn’t taking up the back seat. We’ve been all over the place on jaunts of 150 – 500 miles at a crack. Last year I’d guess we put 7,500 miles on the rig.
I have to hand it to her in that she’s quite low maintenance (knock on wood), and although she’s been known to have a short fuse, she rarely exercises her right to complain about my bone headedness or other guy faults. Thank goodness she doesn’t pay per text message because if she did, she’d be bankrupt. I’ve never seen anyway who texts more than she does. If she could text me during dinner, she would. She’s very attractive, and I am amazed at her staying power when it comes to sticking around. In the past nine months, she’s had every reason to jump ship but has been with me every step of your grandfather’s situation, my job hurdles last summer, and most recently this bladder thing. She could’ve bolted for greener male pastures but didn’t, and for that I am very grateful.
Even more amazing is how she has done all that in the face of what she has going on in her own life. Her daughter lives in Baltimore with her boyfriend and that’s all well and good, but it is her son, Kenneth, who is in Asheville fighting his own set of demons which have afflicted him since he was a teenager. It causes Felicia no end of worry and heartache, and keeps her on high alert almost every day. Since I’ve known her, it’s almost like clockwork for him: four good months then wham, some period of time when he’s fallen off the ledge. He’s been hospitalized and has frequented institutions, and she still has the motherly support for him. Neither of us is certain how it ultimately will play out, but it absorbs a lot of her waking time and mental stores. I worry for her, and for him, but it is just how life continues to unfold.
But I wanted you to know at least some of the details because it would be accurate to call her my significant other. She’s stuck with me through thick and thin, and the least I can do is return the favor. You’ll have your chance to meet her soon enough.