Betty met Dean when the shock of widowhood gave way to the steadiness of a new life without Roy. It was true, in the weeks after her husband’s death, Betty ruthlessly purged her life of Roy’s possessions, erasing him from her life, or so she thought. There was an absence in the void that was once Roy’s life that Betty was at a loss to reconcile.
So with a surge of industry, Betty shoved shirts and suits into a boxes. Suits that hung on Roy’s side of the closet for five decades until his retirement went. Shoes polished and tucked away into their own special bags went too, along with hunting boots, and bowling trophies. Books on bats and How to Compost went. Betty sifted through the layers of Roy’s life day after day, a kind of domestic archeology, looking for something to salvage, but she found nothing. So in the end she tossed all that was Roy’s, filling the back of her Toyota seven times, hauling the stuff to the Goodwill and Hospice donation center at King Town Center.
Before the end, before the smell of death settled into the carpets, staying long after Roy’s departure, Betty followed Roy wheeling his oxygen bottle through the open foyer of their home. They stopped. He struggled to readjust the tubes, and she asked, “What am I supposed to do?” Her hand swept around their home now outfitted with a portable commode and a hospital bed in the living room. Roy lifted his blues eyes to hers, his life ebbing inexorably and said, “What do I care what you do. I’ll be dead.”
Then there was Dean. Dean who was everything Roy was not, came dancing into Betty’s life one evening at Ellington Hall. He swung her around the dance floor to Glen Miller’s Basin Street Blues, releasing her out to one hand, her skirt swirling around her knees, then pulling her close. Dean wore Roy’s old suit he bought at the Hospice thrift store.