Contest RecapMidlife Collage sponsors a weekly contest of midlife short stories. U.S. citizens and legal residents age 40 and older may enter. The Editor selects five stories for publication on our website each week. Readers leave comments and Facebook thumbs-up likes urging the panel of Judges to choose a contest winner. Readers also send the Judges their opinions of the best story on our Closing Arguments page. The contest period is Monday through Sunday noon PT. The first-place story enters the Winner’s Circle and receives a cash prize of $50. Winners of a $50 cash prize are eliglble for a $100 contest, which we run quarterly. See the Submissions Page for the Contest Rules for details. ANYONE, worldwide, age 18 or older can comment on the stories in a contest.
When Ivan’s wife divorced him, she left him nothing but his recliner and a 19” TV. She forced him to move out of the big beautiful home the two of them had shared and move into a rented apartment. After working his real estate job all day, Ivan went home, sat in his recliner and watched TV until he fell asleep. He had little contact with his only son and felt as if his life was over.
I met Ivan when I was hired to work for the same real estate company. When the office manager introduced us, she said we’d be sharing the office that had formerly been his alone. Poor Ivan must have felt uprooted once again by a woman. But if he felt that way, he never let it show.
We hit it off from day one. When business was slow and it was only the two of us, sitting in the office, we had time to get acquainted. We liked each other and had a lot in common. We liked the same music, read the same books and saw the same movies. We talked about our children and their plans as well as our hopes and plans for the rest of our lives. We became good friends.
One day he said, “You know, Peggy, a young boy is taught to love his mother, his grandmother, his sisters, his aunts, and any other woman in his life that he deems lovable, but when he grows up and chooses that one special woman, he discovers abruptly that she is the only woman he is allowed to love for the rest of his life. What a contradiction!”
“I never thought about that,” I said. I’d never asked Ivan why his wife divorced him, but I suppose this remark provided a clue.
Please understand that ours was only a friendship. Ivan knew I was happily married for many years, and thankfully, my husband is not a jealous man. He was acquainted with Ivan, too, and understood our friendship.
However, as all things, good and bad, eventually come to a grinding halt, so did this enjoyable time of my life. Because it was a challenging time for my family, I was needed at home and therefore, quit my job. Ivan and I stayed in touch. A year or so later, finding that he could no longer survive in the real estate business, Ivan took a job in another state and moved away. But our friendship continued by telephone and letters. It was before the days when everyone had a PC, before email, Facebook and Twitter.
Ivan wasn’t a big letter writer, but he sent cards for every occasion and sometimes, for no occasion other than he was thinking about me. He scribbled notes on the cards. He loved getting my letters. He wrote, “Please keep writing. You write such nice letters.”
The last phone call from him came in June. He said he’d been in the hospital; he’d had a stroke, but was much better. He told me to take good care of myself because what he’d been through wasn’t much fun. I sensed his deep sadness.
“I will,” I promised.
Then the cards stopped. Some instinct told me Ivan had passed away. So, I searched my cards from him. The last one had come on my birthday. On it, he’d scrawled:
“Good Morning, Peggy. Thank you for always remembering me. I think of you often because I know how special you are. I remember the first time I saw you, and the last. I felt a connection of some sort. Please stay in touch. Getting a letter from you makes my day. Love, Ivan.”
Ivan will remain in my heart forever.