General Fiction posted August 1, 2022 Chapters:  ...158 159 -160- 161... 


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Bits and pieces of life with the Shelby in 1996

A chapter in the book Remembering Yesterday

A Wedding On The Horizon

by BethShelby


For new readers, who may not have read my author notes, this is written in a conversational way as I talk to my deceased husband. When I refer to someone just as "you" this means I am addressing my husband, Evan.

Once Charlie had made up his mind he was ready to get married, Connie couldn’t wait to get started making wedding plans. They began by shopping for rings and ended up buying the rings without the stone, because Charlie had a cousin who worked with rings and could get the diamond for a lot less money than it would cost at the local jewelry stores. They made another trip to Mississippi to tell Charlie’s family about the fact they were getting married. Charlie’s family liked Connie and were excited about the news. Connie had gone back home with him so many times, they already felt like family to her.

When Connie and Charlie were around us, they argued constantly. They disagreed about the size of the diamond, where they would live, and where they would go on their honeymoon. Connie wanted to go out of the country, and Charlie thought they should go on a back-packing trip. With all their differences, you and I wondered how long this marriage could last. Connie claimed they didn’t fight as much when it was just them. They did agree to get counseling from a pastor since our church advised it.

Connie was spending a good portion of her time at his apartment in Chattanooga, and she wanted to go ahead and move in and not have to pay any more rent at Carol’s apartment, since she was seldom there. I don’t know what happened with that, because she didn’t tell us. She knew you would be upset.

Ever since Carol had spent time at The Bridge in Kentucky, which was supposed to help her with co-dependency problems and dealing with the divorce, she was constantly going to co-dependency and 12-step programs trying to work on “gaining her power back,” as she put it. She seemed to be forcing herself to be more sociable with people her age. She was obsessed with Roy, a young divorced Spanish guy, who said he only wanted to be friends and wasn’t interested in marrying again.

She had convinced herself that her life went off-track because of something you and I had done or not done when she was very young. Carol had an introverted personality type which caused her to be constantly obsessing about herself. She called it living in her head.

She had been overly religious before and during her marriage, but now she was starting to believe you and I as well as the church had harmed her. She always disagreed when I told her we had a good marriage and we were happy and I felt we had a more stable home than most. She claimed I’d ruined your life by not wanting to live in the country. Since you’d retired you seemed happier than ever, other than dealing with heart and blood pressure problems. I’d always been content with my life, so neither of us understood why she seemed to have so many problems.

I continued to write poems and stories when I wasn’t too busy with Dad. A letter arrived from a magazine in Washington state saying they wanted to print a story I’d sent in for consideration. They wanted a picture to illustrate it if I had any. The story involved a beach on a lake where Carol had lost a watch as a young child. I decided to do a drawing to illustrate the story, and I was pleased when the magazine liked my illustration as well. I also won a couple of contests with a southern literary association on two of my poems.  

As Connie’s college semester neared an end in April, she had gotten so far behind in work which needed to be turned in, she begged for my help. I realized doing the work for her wasn’t helping her, but on the other hand, I’d once begged my own mother for help when I was in college. If I helped her make it through college, maybe we could stop so much money from going out. When I was typing and doing research for her, she was often spending time with Charlie and doing fun things. It felt like I was being used. I was starting to feel as co-dependent as Carol. I couldn’t understand why the kids liked to say I was negative, when I had so much trouble telling my family 'no'  when they asked for help. Maybe my first reaction was 'no,' but I usually caved in.

One of Connie’s friends called to tell her that her old boyfriend, Lenny’s, father had died from Aids. We were shocked, but it explained some things, like why a high school principal suddenly retired so young, why Lenny’s adopted parent’s marriage had ended in divorce, and why Lenny’s personality seemed to change almost overnight and he stopped seeing many of his longtime friends. It might have even explained why he broke up with Connie. We had all loved Lenny. Of course, we liked Charlie as well, but he seemed more confrontational and less mellow than Lenny had been.  

Christi’s landlady was giving her problems. She was threatening to evict her from the basement apartment because she claimed there was an odor coming up from below due to Christi having cats in the apartment. She also complained about some of Christi’s boyfriends coming around. You and I were determined she couldn’t come back to live here, because she didn’t respect our rules and kept you upset with her late hours.

Don had passed the Georgia Chiropractic board and was thinking about going to work with a Chiropractor in Ringgold, GA which was only a few miles from Chattanooga. Two brothers were running the clinic, but one was an alcoholic and his brother wanted him out. It sounded like an ‘iffy’ situation to us. We hoped something would work out for Don soon so he could work at his chosen profession.

Connie and Charlie set their wedding date for June. She ordered her wedding invitations and bought the dress, all of which we paid for. The wedding flowers and her bouquet would be daisies and sunflowers, as would all the decorations for the reception. The wedding would be in south Mississippi near Hattiesburg. Charlie’s family and friends would provide the food. The church and place for the reception would be free as long as it was left clean.

Kimberly would be the pianist. You would walk Connie down the aisle. Charlie’s little three-year-old nephew would be the ring bearer and Lauren who wasn’t quite two would be a flower girl. Connie asked her best friend, Lesley, from New Orleans to be the maid of honor. She and Charlie started buying pieces of furniture and I bought them a bed and table as a wedding gift.

Nothing ever goes smoothly at these kinds of celebrations, so we wondered what calamities we would be dealing with for this wedding. With only a month to go, we would soon find out.

THIS IS US:
Evan is 67 and a retired drafting supervisor from Chevron Oil.
Beth is 58 and has given up working in the printing field and is home taking care of disabled father.
Carol is 33, recently divorced, and a nurse, working at a hospital in Chattanooga and living in an apartment.  
Don is a twin. He is 31, a recent graduate of Life Chiropractic College
Christi is Don’s twin. She is working as a receptionist at a chemical company and doing massages on the side.
Kimberly is Don’s wife. She is a nurse working at Chattanooga hospital
Lauren Elizabeth Jane Shelby is Don and Kimberly's baby in nearly two..
Connie is our youngest daughter. She is twenty-two. She is a senior in college. 

Charlie is Connie's boyfriend who has recently moved to Chattanooga from South Mississippi.
 



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I'm continuing to recall memories of life with my deceased husband, Evan, as if I am talking aloud to him. I'm doing this because I want my children to know us as we knew each other and not just as their parents.
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