by Elaine Miller


Chapter 21

Things seemed to settle down. Mary called Sean every day to talk to him. He went to see her on his weekends. It was quiet for awhile. Gradually Mary talked to me more often and I encouraged her to come over here. She didnít want to be around Marie or Seth. At times Seth would aggravate her until she was out of control. Marie would lose patience like I do at times and scream at her and get her going. I had a talk with both Seth and Marie. I told them I wanted it to be nice and I wanted them to treat her like they would a friend. Seth is harder headed and at times now he aggravates her. I told Mary that I wanted her to walk away and not answer them. I promised her that they would not bother her. I told Marie and Seth I expected them not to stir her up. Sean was after her to come here so that when she was visiting, he could continue to play on the computer part of the time. He said he still would go over there part of the time.

Mary started coming over to the house. She would just come on Saturdays at first. She started finding fault with the way the other cleaning girl cleaned the house and she was always asking me if she could do some things to earn a little money. The other cleaning girl called off a couple of times and so I finally told her that I was going to give Mary back her job. I had picked Mary up and had her clean when the other girl could not come. Everything was slowly getting back to normal, except that Mary lived with Archie.

I found that when Mary wasnít here every day we really got along much better. I would have her over more often. I asked her to go places with me. Sometimes I took her to lunch. Marie started letting her clean for her too. Mary seemed much calmer and was a lot happier. We were able to have a better relationship. We started talking about things like other mothers and daughters talk about.

Mom became morbidly ill and finally went to the nursing home after a stroke. It was apparent she no longer could live alone. When Mom was sick Mary came and with Marie, Bill, Don and I we dismantled Momís apartment. I found I depended a lot on my girls. Marie and I went and got Mary whenever we went to see Mom at the nursing home. We included her in many things.

Mary shared with me that at times Archie is hard to live with. He gets mad at her and yells. When he is mad he tells her that he is going to kick her out at the end of the month. Archie has a dog that is old and he has had him for many years. The dog naturally has decided that he likes Mary best, since she has a way with animals. Whenever Archie says "youíre out of here at the end of the month," Mary says to him, "what about Bullet?"

One day everyone was either at school or at work and I had thought I was alone in the house except for the dogs. Suddenly I heard footsteps coming down from upstairs. It was Mary. She had had a row with Archie and she had called the police on him. The police suggested she leave for the rest of the night and had driven her here to stay. While she was gone, the dog Bullet growled at Archie, would not sleep the rest of the night next to him, and had nothing to do with him the next day. Archie called Mary by suppertime and wanted her to come home. He told Mary he was sorry. He came and picked her up and off they went.

Mary also told me that each time he yells at her that Bullet comes right over and stands in front of her and growls at Archie. He told her that the dog had never ever made up with any other of his previous girlfriends. I told Mary that she was very clever and we laughed about her asking him what he would do with the dog if he threw her out. Talking about throwing her out is the way he seems to handle his anger with her. He generally tells her later how sorry he is. She told me he has told her that he loves her. They have been living with each other now for over two years and known each other for three years. Archie will never find another woman like her who will wait on him hand and foot or take care of him like she does. They have talked about marriage, but Mary is afraid of losing her medical card. They keep the arrangement just as is. Everyone needs somebody to share his or her life, to share hopes and dreams.

Mary loves the wildlife and the birds. She is outside every day putting out feed and water. In the summertime it is serene and lovely in their back yard. She has called and asked me to come over so that she can show me their flowers and wildlife preserve. We have sat in her living room and shared tea. That house is a cozy little place. She has decorated with her touches making it real homey. Mary no longer drinks alcohol. She no longer smokes cigarettes. It is apparent that she knows how to handle her partner and live with his personality in relative contentment. Mary has come a long way.

Mary decided she wanted to come to family gatherings again. I told her she could come. Marie and I have encouraged her to bring Archie, but he dislikes all of us and refuses to come. We always send a plate of food home. Maybe someday he will come with her and find it in his heart to accept us the way we are.

I made sure that when Sean got awards at school I let her know and she could come. He got awards each year for his grades and this past two years for his creative writing. He has a talent for writing and Mary always has too. It seemed that the family was settling down into a more peaceful existence.

Sean gets along with his Mom much better too. This year he turns fourteen. They enjoy doing things together. Mary has always taken him to the zoo and to the museum and planetarium when they had programs, from the time he was three or four. They play board games, walk the dogs that we have now and go to the park down the street. They still fight and come running to me part of the time. Mary can still be aggravating.

I find jobs for her to do for extra money. She always needs money. We have an understanding that she asks me for what she needs and doesnít just take things. I give her many leftovers to take home for their meals. Her father and I gave them a microwave, stand and microwave dishes for Christmas this past year. She and Archie love to cook in the microwave.

I had a total hip replacement earlier this year and have retired from nursing. I had to stay two weeks at Marieís after surgery. Marie and the girls were wonderful taking care of me until I could go home. After I got home Mary came every day to help me. She got a raise since now I depend on her a lot. She not only does my housework, but also the laundry for the whole family.

My ex and his wife like Archie. They think he is the best thing that ever happened to Mary. She and Archie go and visit at my exís house all the time now. My ex is not as uncomfortable around her any more. Archie and he have a lot in common. Archie really is good for Mary. No one is perfect. He does things I donít approve of many times, but I donít live with him. I find that shaking my head and laughing about some of the things that he does is a healthy way to deal with my feelings for him. I donít dislike him. I can accept him part of the time. Our relationship with Mary has improved immensely. She is a happy person now. She is in love and loved in return.

I no longer think about asking why? There is no longer a burning drive for answers. I have come to accept things. It has been twenty-five years since the accident. I can laugh about things that happen. I can look back on many things and feel sadness now instead of rage and anger. I have a decent relationship with my ex husband. It is almost as if it was another lifetime ago.

Through the programs of Al-Anon I have changed my outlook on life. I no longer have the urge to try to change others. I find I am thanking God for all the good things in my life. It is much more effortless to let Mary be just like she is. There are still problems with her reactions and behavior from time to time, but that also is part of Mary. If she starts getting out of hand, I just tell her to quit or she has to go home. Marie and I are Maryís "rock" It feels good to take things one day at a time and be able to decide how important is it? If there is no pain in life, there is no gain. The path has been long and hard. Everyone has come a long ways from that fateful night when the lights went out at the top of the hill, and changed our lives forever.




Elaine Miller is a retired registered nurse whose specialty is geriatric and rehab nursing. She has lived most of her life in the Peoria/ E. Peoria, Ill. area. She is a writer, an artist and a seamstress. She is dedicated to her family and friends. She tries to touch others by living her life with hope, enthusiasm and love. You may write to her at 207 Schulzki La. E. Peoria, Ill. 61611.