“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way." C.S.Lewis
It was a perfect winter day in New Hampshire.
The quarter mile road that made our driveway was neatly manicured by snow blowers creating a sort of wall on either side.
I always wondered if our early conception of architecture came from the natural elements being tidied up by man’s ability to move snow. Snow is the only natural element that we can cut such sharp detail and after all, the Eskimos had it right.
From every window in our little house in Piermont, you can see the open plain prairie in our back yard and the mountains from the front. The prairie was deceptively alluring after a blizzard. The snow, untouched by boots and skis, with scattering paw prints beckoned one to come and take a closer look. But should you decide to do so, you had better be prepared. Most folks had snow shoes, those tennis rackets for your feet. They are the best option, because walking in 3 feet of snow is impossible. Each step takes minutes to accomplish and the further you go the more in danger of not being able to get back. I had been a victim of such folly and learned my lesson well.
In Chicago suburb of Wheeling, New Year’s Eve 1978, my husband and I went to a party at an adjacent apartment complex. We walked, since it was only less than a four or five block distance across an open field. When we left our place it was a relatively nice evening. It always is before a fluffy snow fall. Fluffy because as you pick it up it is like feathers in a pillow. We arrived at our destination safely, partied hardy and after the New Year rang in, we decided to walk home. You can only envisage the scene before our eyes. I guess we had all been too preoccupied with festivities to pay attention to what was happening. Isn't there a law about walking under the influence? Well...there should be. Somewhere between the time we arrived, which was around 5:30pm, and the time we left, 2am on January 1st, 1979, approximately 8 inches of snow had hit the ground.
To give you some sort of idea, this was the snowstorm that got Michael Bilandic ousted and Jane Byrne elected as Mayor of Chicago because Bilandic did not act fast enough in clearing the snow and it paralyzed the city and its surrounding suburbs.
The entire area was crippled, people could not get to work, the only place to park your car, if you could even get to it, to keep it off the street so the equipment could get through, was local playgrounds and school recess areas. But the city had been dumping all the snow there, so…well, you get the idea.
Bill and I left the party, thinking everything was hunky dory. It was a beautiful crystal clear night, the stars shown on the newly fallen snow and that field we traversed looked safe with the untouched snowfall.
Bill led the way, but I immediately knew things serious. I suggested we ask someone for a ride, or take a cab, but Bill jibed at me, “Oh, c’mon! It is just a short distance".
You could see the front window of our apartment clearly. So I just conceded with a prayer. I had a long skirt on with boots to my knees. Bill bored his leg into the snow as it seemed to actually rise to his upper thigh. Holding my hand, he guided me along his path. It took us 2 hours to get home. The worst part is when you are almost halfway there. You are exhausted, scared, not a soul in sight and juggling the decision of whether you should continue or turn back. I wanted to cry, but that would be a disaster since it was pretty cold out there and I definitely would get freezer burn.
That is the beautiful horror of snow.
The night Mel trekked out in such madness was worse than that.
Mel had asked if it was OK to go and see her sister Candee. She had been seeing her every day as her coworkers had mentioned to me. I don’t know if she worked nearby, but I was aware that this was a potential threat to our relationship. Candee and I at one time had been good friends.
Early on in Mel’s and my relationship she had been an ally. I would drive the 3 hours to her house in Hallettsville to help her with computers or assist her in craft ideas. I spent the night at her and Morris' home. At times her closeness was uncomfortable and I worried that I might be misreading things. So I stopped going to see her. But she relied heavily on me as a friend, asking advice about everything she was doing. I had taken her side against her mother over a trivial lamp that Candee wanted and her mother refused to give her. Betty, their mom, did not like her daughter very much. It made me sad for Candee. I eventually got the lamp for Candee. Sadly, a few years after, Candee would accuse me of stealing the lamp. Yes, suddenly, the relationship changed.
It was after I advised her to NOT go and see her son Michael. He was doing so well. He was clean and sober 5 years, working as a law assistant and involved with a wonderful man. But she insisted that she was moving to Long Island to be with him. And the worst happened, Michael fell off the wagon.
Candee had become involved with Michael’s lover John who rented Candee a house. Candee called us and told us she was going to marry John. I was dismayed, Mel was disgusted and Michael…was gone!
After 3 years and her second son coming to visit her, and he too slipped back into drugs and booze, she left and went to Alabama where she hooked up with her dead husband’s brother Leroy.
She and I did not get along as well any longer, and she started undermining me in front of Mel. She would fabricate situations that did not exist, accusing me of being a drug addict and lazy. She would come to our house and I wanted to stay clear of her, so I stayed in the bedroom. If she had seen our everyday life, she would’ve been hard pressed to make such an allegation. But I wasn't performing for her. After all Mel knew the truth.
When I met Mel and we first dated I thought "What a strong, altruistic, principled person this was". It was sad to watch her fold under Candee's presence. I can only imagine how fulfilling it would have been to watch her stand tall and committed to the relationship she chose with me and herself as opposed to the cowardly way she let her sister determine her life. Not a good character building moment
Just to hear her say "Candee, not only is this not true, but frankly, it is none of your business".
Something she saw me do time and again with my family when they tried to take Mel down in front of me. And I didn't do it for her, but for myself.
Sometimes people deserve a high five, in the face, with a chair.
I worked 60 to 80 hours a week. I had a daughter in debate that took every minute of my weekends. And it was I who had to tend to the house and to our meals. Candee's sister Mel was living the high life, a lifestyle she could nary afford on her own. The few bills Mel had she couldn’t keep up with and many times I had to run to the Western Union and wire 3 to 4 car payments to keep her vehicle from being repossessed.
Mel can shop and any trip to Wal*mart would be $200 or more, several times a month. She loved to eat out and did at least twice a week. We would travel for the most inane of situations. Yes, we enjoyed little vacations to New Orleans or Mexico. But she had to go and see her parents at least twice a year, as well as every and any funeral. Once to her Uncle’s wake in Alabama. When we got there, she didn’t even want to see him! No, her sister showed up and that is where she spent her time. It turned out, that particular uncle had molested Mel as a child. Who goes to that sort of memorial?
Mel would call Candee for long stretches and not hear from her. When Candee finally called she would put on this most obnoxious disquieting baby voice. And it was high pitched and whiney. Every time she called in this fashion, it was so weird it made me shudder as I could hear it over the phone from another room. She wanted something.
Candee played Mel terribly. I was embarrassed at times. If Mel went shopping with Candee and me, Mel could not buy me something unless she bought the identical item for Candee. And Candee was 14 years older thanMel.
After one exceptionally long stretch, Mel insisted we go see Candee in Alabama and true to form she pulled her “I need to straighten Dianne up” talk. I had asked her for some lidocaine for Mel to inject in my neck. Now how would I even know about that? Mel had introduced me to it when I told her I didn’t like being on all those narcotics and wanted something “topical”.
After I asked Candee she went into a shrieking fit:
“I have had it! Dianne this needs to stop.”
Mel would stand there pathetically, acting like the damaged one, as if I needed an intervention.
"Candee, who do you think put me on those drugs?” I asked tentatively “I knew NOTHING about any of this stuff. It is your sister who advises the doctors as to WHAT SHE thinks I can have and because she goes each and every time with me, she wears her Methodist scrubs and looks all important and they take her word for it! And besides you are an RN. Do you NOT KNOW that lidocaine is not an opiate, narcotic or addicting in any way?”
Candee and I spoke very little after that. And then Betty and Puz, their parents became ill and we had to make the decision to either put them in a nursing home or bring them into our homes. The decision was made; Mel and I would take dad, Candee would take mom.
Dad died in our home from his many strokes. Betty declined quickly inCandee’s care. She was alert and had not suffered dementia in any way, but because she was almost paralyzed from arthritis, she developed a bed sore. Candee was a nurse in a nursing home, had been for many years, many nursing homes (over 50 in her career). How was it possible that Betty developed this malady? Eventually Candee just didn’t return home leaving her boyfriend Leroy to take care of her mother. Of course he couldn’t do so and so Betty moved in with us.
Everyone was of course shocked at Candee’s behavior and of course,Mel wrote her off saying never again.
When Betty lived with us she wanted nothing to do with Candee, putting me in the middle of any altercations. We never heard from Candee over the several months we had Betty, until Betty was put in Hospice. Candee lurked around every corner. I felt my dream of home and family in New Hampshire was being assaulted and now everyone I didn’t want was moving there. Ex-girlfriends, crazy sister in law and her unpleasant child Susan. I should have noticed things were not right. Of course we know Betty died, Candee came to the funeral to announce her wedding and since Mel has begged me to let her be part of her sister’s life again. I gave in, but truly, all I wanted was for her to get a backbone. Mel often complained she wanted to move, but I loved New Hampshire. I should’ve listened to her.
So this snow ridden day, Mel headed over to her sister’s house and ended up in a snow bank.
“Mel got in an accident” Candee was rather smug when she called me “And she doesn’t want to speak to you.”
The sinking, scared and sad moment when everything changed in your life. I didn’t have a vehicle. No, I let Mel use mine as a trade in, with her, so she could get a KIA SUV. It looked more like a Barbie car. But that’s what she wanted.
So there I was. In a backass town with no car, no way to get to her andCandee had the control.
The last time I saw Candee was when I got up one morning and she, again, was sleeping on my couch, a family heirloom. I asked her to sleep in the spare bedroom, Mel ’s office. She stormed out of the house and that was that. And that woman can hold a grudge. I had told Mel that if the two of them ever reunited, it would be the end of our relationship. Mel always promised that our history was far too deep to allow such a situation to occur, but I knew better and in my heart, this day was coming. It is said once you are on top, you are useless, but Candee was breaking that rule. As much as I loved Mel , I hated Candee. The similarity between loving and hating is that they both involve lots of emotions.
That night was the longest in my relationship with Mel. We were so tied to each other; neither of us would go a half day without calling the other.Mel didn’t answer her cell phone.
Finally at 8 am the next morning she came trudging through the door.
I didn’t know what to say. It was the first time I couldn’t start a conversation with her. I knew that even if her phone wasn’t available, she at least should’ve had it in her possession on the ride home. I was sitting on the couch, the TV was on, but I couldn’t tell you what they were saying or doing.
“Di, I’m sorry, something happened to me and I ran into a ditch.”
“Are you ok” I asked for want of a better question.
“Yes, Candee took care of me...”
She said that as if I wouldn’t. She told of passing out at her sister’s and waking in the morning unaware of the night before. I wasn’t convinced. She said her sister had her phone. She didn’t want her disturbed.
“What?” I was incensed “Is this how our relationship is now? I was worried sick about you, and worse, do you have any idea how helpless a person feels when their loved one will not even speak to them? And further, I have no car! No way to get to you. No way to get anywhere.” I cried.
“Oh, it’s all about you.”
And there it is folks, that moment where you can be certain a third party has entered your relationship. When they open their mouth and someone else’s words come out. This retort was followed by accusations of my not giving her breathing room. She needed to be with her OWN friends.
You see, that is the glory of being gay. You are in the most intimate relationship with someone who is also your friend and all your friends are mutual. No, that was something a straight person would say. But she never even asked me to have time alone with friends. The only friend I even knew of that I didn’t spend time with was Lori. And she said Lori was odd, weird and ran hot and cold. I was told Lori refused to speak to Mel since that long ago party at our house when I was out of town measuring the Hawthorne hotel.
This was a bad moment in time. My head said this relationship is in trouble, but my heart said, no. I had taken care of her entire family. Her sister through many marriage and health problems. Her niece when she was strung out on crack, I brought her into my home, and she brought her two small children with her. I took care of her father in our home, incapacitated, with diapers and a feeding tube until his death, her mother for five months until she finally succumbed, staying up all hours getting only a few moments rest un between. I took care of all of her friends when they had problems and needed me to tend to their family members when they couldn’t. I quit my job, gave up my car. I hadn’t seen my children in a long time because Melbristled every time I brought them up. Add to that, Mel had been dragging me to doctors and now I allegedly had heart problems.
No human being on earth would abandon someone who has put so much into a relationship. Especially if they were having health issues themselves. Which Mel announced to everyone. “Dianne has, etc…”
It was unconditional to me. But I was losing Mel and I was terrified.
Beginning of Book
Yes, this is absolutely positively true. If you lived this wouldn't you write about it? Some of the names of characters in this blog are fictitious. This is an account of actual events. Some of the events have been compiled together for the flow of the story. Even when I read my own work, I wonder how it could be so. But if you study your own life and compartmentalize it into less than 200 pages, you would be surprised how interesting it really is!
TRUTH HAS WITNESSES (Dianne Lindsey) This material is the copyright Dianne Schuch Lindsey and cannot be duplicated in any fashion without the express permission of the Author. All rights reserved ©