It was here more than thirty years ago at a family outing to
the lake that I met the woman
who loved me, although at the time
she was closer to being a girl. Well, in point of fact, she was
a girl as I understand the word now, but to my then oh so much younger
eyes she was very much a young woman.
After milling around at the outing with the others for a decent interval,
she and her cousin Wayne, or as his family knew him, Eben,
and I escaped from the grownups,
who were wasting their time fishing or something,
and we had ourselves an expedition along the top of a bluff overlooking
the lake. As I recall, Wayne and I, Debbie being too
sensible though by
a couple of years the youngest of us three, spent a good part of that time
chucking this and that over the side of the bluff and taking
unnecessary chances. I suppose by some adolescent leap of fancy
I thought I might impress Debbie that way; so I had that excuse,
feeble as it was,
but I can't imagine what on earth Wayne could have been thinking,
which I guess leaves him no excuse but youth and stupidity.
At day's end when the outing broke up and Debbie left with her family,
I didn't know if I would ever see her again. As it turned out, that was
just the first of many outings that spring and summer, and the beginning of
my life with Debbie, which was the time of my life.
These get-togethers lapsed in the fall when the three of us went back
to school and weren't resumed in the spring
because Wayne's cancer had recurred.
All that summer he was away receiving treatments.
Wayne was one of those people who had his life mapped out by the time
he was 16.
He would join the Air Force and become a jet pilot, serve his time,
then parlay his skills into a job as a commercial airline pilot.
When bone cancer took his right arm and scuttled that plan, he simply
came up with a plan B and decided to be a lawyer. Judging by how we
spent much of our time together, I figure that was because he loved to
argue for the sake of argument. He died
of cancer during what would have been
his first semester of college.
Debbie never quite figured out what
it was she wanted to do with life. She went through several majors
in college and finally dropped out after a couple of years, though
when she died she had been preparing for a career as a flight attendant.
A life in the sky, like her cousin Eben. Maybe she still would have
been trying to figure it all out if she had lived. I know I am.
I don't expect I'll ever solve it, though.