by Del Starr, a pseudonym, all rights reserved. Submitted June 3, 2015

Life is not a Bowl of Cherries

Alex and Dianne moved into their new home and Dianne was delighted. She now had a yard to work in and a freezer to store food in and she could cook real meals for her new husband. He worked the swing shift at Boeing and it was perfect for them. He would come home after midnight and when he got up, they would go shopping or do other things together until time for him to go to work again. Dianne would wait up for him and when she heard his car, her heart would leap for joy.

Grace now felt that it was time to move from her sister’s home and since Alex and Dianne had an extra bedroom, she determined to move in with them. Dianne didn’t really oppose it but she had wanted to have her privacy with Alex. However, Grace was, after all, her mother…and so Grace came to live with Alex and Dianne.

Not too much time had passed when again Dianne began to have feelings of insecurity. Grace was doing things and making comments that made Dianne uncomfortable. When she spoke of them to Alex, he suggested that it was “just Grace’s way” and that things would settle down soon.

The situation became worse rather than better, and one day Dianne approached Grace saying, “If I didn’t know better, I would think that you are trying to destroy my marriage.”

Grace got a sly grin on her face and replied, “There’s something that I know, that if you knew, would destroy your marriage.” Dianne’s heart sank. Whatever could it be? Horrible thoughts crossed her mind but she could not put the pieces together. From what Grace had said, it almost seemed that perhaps Alex was having an affair but Dianne knew better. She was with him every day wherever he went, except to work, and he always left for work within the required time and not a moment too early and returned from work at the same time every night, within a half hour from the time he got off.

Dianne once more began to feel sick.

There was now friction between Grace and Dianne, and Dianne would frequently question Grace as to what it was that Grace knew that Dianne did not. Grace intimated that it might be an affair and with that statement, Dianne approached Alex. She did not accuse him, for she could not understand, if he was having an affair, how or when it could be taking place. She posed her questions in such a way that Alex would not feel that she was accusing him of anything but she wanted him to understand that she was aware that there were problems in their life.

Alex didn’t say much but did not deny that there were problems. Dianne went back to Grace with the statements that Alex had made. Grace spoke more, giving Dianne a bit more to go on and she went back again to Alex.

Back and forth she went until the entire sordid story came out.

When Dianne had gone to George and Ruth’s home to prepare for the wedding, Alex and Grace had begun an affair and it continued now, in their own home while Dianne was sleeping.

Dianne’s life and dreams had now fallen apart. She was seventeen years old with a marriage on the rocks and a mother whom she could not trust. George and Ruth had been quite adamant when Dianne had gone to live with Grace, that Grace was Dianne’s mother and that they were only her grandparents, and Dianne did not feel as though she could run to them with her new problem. She, like her mother before her, did not want them to know that she had failed.

She called Lorraine and told her the story with tears streaming down her face. Lorraine was aghast but rather than help Dianne sort things out, suggested that Dianne turn it over to the Lord and told her that they would pray for her.

Prayer is wonderful but Dianne needed human support at that time, and she found none. Because Grace was active in the church, Dianne would not approach anyone in church with her problems and she was virtually alone now, living in the house where her mother and her husband continued to have their affair.

Dianne’s frustration revealed itself in arguments with Grace and Grace would become angry with Dianne, telling her that she had no right to feel, act or talk in that manner and telling her that if she did not straighten up, Grace was going to commit suicide. This added to Dianne’s terror.

Dianne wanted very badly to retain her marriage. She still loved Alex with all her heart but realized that changes would have to be made in order for the marriage to continue.

Alex began to look for work away from Washington State and found an opening in a construction firm in Greenfield, Indiana where he would be able to teach construction.

Dianne was eager for him to take the position and so Alex began making plans. Together, they told Grace that they were hoping to move. Grace said to them, “If you move to Indiana, I will come along.”

Dianne was caught, seemingly with no way out. Alex would not discourage Grace and Grace was determined to be near Alex.

Dianne was saved by a letter addressed to Alex, which arrived one day. The heading of the letter said, “Greetings”…

Alex had been called to military duty.

Dianne thought that this might be a way to break loose from Grace and hailed the day that Alex boarded the plane for Fort Ord, California where he took his basic training. As she stood in the airport watching Alex board the plane, tears streamed down her face. A gentleman nearby, seeing the tears, came to her, and reassured her that Alex would be fine and they would be together soon. Little did he know the real reasons for Dianne’s tears.

Grace continued to live in the same house with Dianne. About half way through Alex’s basic training, Grace took vacation time and insisted that Dianne and she drive to Fort Ord together to see Alex. By this time Dianne was no longer able to think for herself. She missed Alex terribly and finally agreed to drive to California.

When they arrived, Grace and Dianne got a motel. They spent a little time with Alex both that

evening and the next morning. Then Grace suggested that she and Dianne find employment near Fort Ord and stay until Alex was out of boot camp.

Dianne’s only security at this point was her home and fortunately for her, she was strong enough to refuse to stay in California and told Grace that if she wished to stay, she could, but that she, Dianne, would return to Washington State.

When they returned to Seattle, Grace obtained a good job in a dental lab, making more money than she ever had in her life and she settled down a bit and decided to stay in Seattle.

When Alex finished boot camp, he came home on leave before heading for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for his AIT (Advanced Individual Training). He and Dianne talked and decided that Dianne would accompany him to Missouri but Dianne told him that she would not go if Grace went. Alex agreed and they packed for the move, leaving Grace in their home.

It was a terribly hot summer in Missouri. Dianne had never encountered such humid heat. Most of the time she was alone in her little apartment about 30 miles from the base. Alex came on the weekends most of the time but not every weekend, and Dianne became more and more insecure as she lived alone and took showers to attempt to keep cool. She sometimes drove to the base to spend some time with Alex. One time when she went, Alex was not there and nobody seemed to know where he was. They thought that he had gone home but Dianne had not seen him nor had she heard from him. This became common on the weekends and Alex rarely came to the apartment anymore. Dianne discovered that he was going to the red light district a little way off the base and spending his weekends there, telling Dianne that he was not allowed off the base.

Dianne was still determined to save her marriage.

 

After AIT, Alex was transferred to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. He went down on the bus and Dianne drove their car down there alone.

When she arrived, Alex told her that he was unable to leave the base and that she needed to find a place to live. Dianne was so insecure by this time that she was afraid to go looking for a place by herself. She lived in her car for nearly a month before Alex took the time to help her find a place to live.

Life was not all that good for the young couple now. Things that might seem minor in a good marriage, appeared enormous in a marriage that had suffered what Alex and Dianne’s marriage had already suffered. Dianne was not happy and it showed, making Alex unhappy and he did not want to be with her. They had stopped attending church when Dianne had discovered the affair with Grace and Dianne had no support system upon which to lean now that she was so far away from home and family.

Arguments became normal for Alex and Dianne and the last straw came for Dianne when Alex told her that he needed her to get his uniforms ready for an inspection. She was to wash, dry, and iron each and every uniform so that it would be fresh, whereupon she was to pack them in his duffle bag so that they would be ready for the inspection. Alex then joined some of his buddies. As he was leaving, Dianne asked where he was going and he replied that he was headed for Moffatt, Oklahoma, just over the border, where the guys were going to do a little drinking. Dianne was supposed to carry the duffle bag from their home, about eight blocks to the Laundromat, wash and dry them, and carry them home again, where she was to starch and iron them.

Dianne died inside that day. She finally gave up on her marriage. It was late in the evening, the thunderclouds were gathering and Dianne sat on a bench at a bus stop just contemplating life. She did not do the laundry. She never left the house with the duffle bag. She sat on the bench for nearly two hours, sick at heart. A friend of theirs drove by and saw her. He turned around and came back to her, invited her to join him and they just drove around and talked. That night Dianne took a lover. She was so lonely for arms to comfort her, for words of love to be spoken, and though she knew it was not right, she grabbed on to the opportunity to feel some security even if it was misplaced.

Alex was, of course, extremely angry when he returned home half drunk. Dianne ignored him.

It was about three weeks later that Alex learned that Dianne had a lover. That night they had company, as they most often had during their married life. This was a fellow from the base and he was sleeping on the couch in the living room while Alex and Dianne argued in the kitchen. When Alex learned about Dianne’s lover, he grabbed her by the throat and began choking the life out of her. The scuffle awakened the friend in the living room who came to Dianne’s rescue and pulled Alex away from her.

Alex returned to the base and did not sleep at the home again. Dianne once more packed her belongings and Alex agreed, since he had some leave time coming, to take her back to Seattle.

Dianne was now nearly 19 years old.