Epilogue: Jade


When the two of them started spending a weekend here and there at the quiet Massachusetts lake where a friend had a tiny cottage, they had both often been bogged down by work in the week and needed to relax. And often they wouldn't get there until midnight on a Friday.

Years passed and the kids grew up. They had more weekends to themselves and they began to spend more time at their cedar house on the water that they had purchased. One summer, he bought an old motorboat and they rode along the shoreline, taking in the breathtaking sights. The place was surrounded by big, old trees and the land sloped gently down to the shore. It was perfect.

They never knew that summers could be so good. He would get up before light to go fishing and she'd sleep until the birds woke her up. And he'd make breakfast and they would sit on the deck eating omelets.

They got to know the grocer and the butcher who smoked his own bacon. And the chipmunks and squirrels that resided close by and a woodpecker that took over their biggest tree.

She loved sunsets. It was the best part of the day. They'd always be ready to watch the sun go down, changing the color of the lake from blue to purple, to silver and black.

She didn't like October very much. Even with all the beautiful colors and warmth from the fireplace, she was a summer person at heart. The cold wind wasn't her friend. So in November they would take the hammock down, lock everything up and drive back to the city. But the minute the ice on the lake melted, spelling the start of spring, they would be right back. She'd throw open the windows to let in the fresh air and greet the birds, chipmunks and squirrels.

With each summer gone, the sunsets seemed more spectacular and beautiful. And more precious. Then one weekend, he went down alone to close the place down for the winter.

He worked quickly, trying not to think that this particular chair had been her favorite. He tried not to remember as he took down the hammock that she had given to him one Christmas. And most of all, he tried to forget that the house on the lake had been his gift to her.

He didn't work quickly enough and he was still there at sunset. It was just perfect, the color of orange that she loved. He tried but he couldn't watch it. Not alone. Not through tears. So he turned his back on it, went inside, drew the draperies, locked the door and drove away.

Later there would be a "for sale" sign out front. Maybe a couple who loved to watch sunsets would buy the house. He hoped so.

I came across a memorial entitled "House On The Lake" in "Reader's Digest" longtime Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko, wrote and dedicated to his first wife, Carol, who died in 1979. Mike Royko himself died in 1997. I was completely touched and blown away by the simplicity and yet, depth of it. The epilogue above was inspired by what I read and re-read, over and over again.

You have arrived at the end of the trilogy which spanned three series, "Long Ago…", "This Is When It All Began" and "The Story of Us". Thank you for reading.


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