Introduction

This book is a semi-autobiographical tale that is very much true to actual events in my life as well as my dad's. It is proof that although there are those amongst us that may be seen as 'unusual', 'unique', or even, cruelly, as 'freaks', there are golden souls that will accept us and love us for who we are, proving that love indeed, is the most powerful element in our entire Galaxy.

Chapter 1—Bachelor Inherant

Harold Alvin Gates had been single for as long as he had been breathing. It wasn't unusual for him to be seen with his fraternity brothers talking about his recent achievements in college or socializing with random people that happened to like Harry because of his agreeable character and adept ability at wielding hilarious jokes. Harry was a socialite, and one who enjoyed going to events simply to savor the cammeradery.

Sure, there were women in his life, but none of them lasted long. The only five ladies he had ever dated had been after his money and used him for his intelligence and he was tired of being tossed aside like garbage. It did little to boost his self-esteem, let alone his ego. Even his faith, sadly, was beginning to waver a bit. All of this had happened since his idol and best friend, his father, Wallace, died due to lung cancer. Wanting to emulate dad, but not realizing the dangers of drink and cigarettes combined, Harry started to go into a downward spiral and he wasn't even knowlegable of where it would lead him. Eventually, he committed himself to an asylum to rid himself of the hold that alcohol had over him. Even after being released, he was still smoking, but not much else had changed.

One day, while walking along the typical pathways of his Alma Mater, Indiana University, Harry met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her name was Victoria Marie Turnstead. He knew that somehow, this was the woman he was destined to marry, but in spite of his outgoing, dramatic personality, he couldn't find the nerve to ask her out. He did, however, give her his fraternity pin, which was the only object he had to bequeath to her to solidify his affection for her. Unfortunately, by the time he had gotten around to asking her out on a date, she broke his heart by announcing,

"I'm getting married in May to Alex Crewman. We've been dating for a while. I was almost afraid to tell you...", but the remainder of Vicky's words were garbled. Harry had stopped his ears. Any faith or hope he had left seemed squelched, but in his secret heart, he prayed somehow that he wouldn't be lonely forever. Vicky had been the only woman that had seen him as an equal and liked him for who he was. The only other people who had done this in Harry's life were Wallace, his beloved mother, Rose, and his closest brother, Rodney.

Chapter 2—Tragic Web of Fate

For the remainder of what seemed to be Harry's adult life, he remained a bachelor, working hard first as an English teacher until one day he had come to the shocking reality that teaching was simply not for him. In the beginning, he had wanted to be, with all best intentions, a doctor, but he could never quite wrap his head around the math that was required. Teaching had been his sole reason for existing until he had gotten a call from his mother Rose, about Vicky.

"What seems to be the trouble ? Why are you sobbing, mom ?", he asked, feeling his gut tightening, having a sense that something atrocious had just occurred.

"Alex Crewman and his sons were killed in an airplane crash today. Vicky's brother, Zach, had been the one flying the plane. He and everyone onboard...", Rose stopped herself before breaking down into soul-shaking sobs.

"How awful. Is there anything I can do mom ?", Harry questioned, feeling the sting of tears in his eyes as well, wondering how Vicky could possibly cope with such a devistating event as this one.

"Call her. Comfort her in her time of need. Who knows, there may just be hope for you two yet.", Rose added with some sweetness to her tone. He didn't need much more convincing than that.

Chapter 3—Reconnected

Following his mother's lead, Harold called Vicky and they began to talk. He did his utmost to comfort her and through some sort of miracle, Vicky actually began coversing with him after about an hour of pregnant silence over the phone.

"Why would you want to see me again ?", Harold asked, completely floored at her honesty, wondering where this could possibly lead.

"You're my best friend, Harry. Who better to comfort me at this time of loss ?", Vicky confessed. Harry laughed in surprise lightly. They talked for what seemed to be hours and Harry knew he had to see Vicky in person once more. He let her get away once, he wasn't about to let her escape the second time.

Eventually, Harry and Vicky started dating before she had been 'taken away' from him by Alex. Harry was beginning to feel even more strongly about his love for her, and in a bold move one afternoon in a local park during a lovely, sunny April day, he asked her to become his wife. Vicky was hesitant at first, but strangely enough, she had Harry had 'dated' briefly before she had ever met Alex.

"I let you slip once, Victoria. Do you think I'm giving you that chance again ? You'd better believe this when I say that I know this is an opportunity I simply cannot bypass.", Harry confessed openly. Victoria was bewildered by his conviction and smitten by his passion. Without deliberating, the two were married and started living their lives together as husband and wife.

Chapter 4—Miracle Child

Since Victoria had experienced such devistating, ground-shaking tragedy before in married as well as motherly life, she wasn't quite sure whether she wanted to bring another life into the world. Yet, with constant, persistent persuasion, Victoria decided to try having another child at the age of 44.

The doctors were anything but supportive, seeing that Vicky was a woman advanced in years to even consider bearing a child, but despite the doctor's warnings of Down's Syndrome and other complications, the couple carried the pregnancy to full term and a beautiful, perfectly formed girl was born. She was named after Harry's best friend, who had become a curtousy aunt to all of them. Little Ann was beloved by all, but the parents were concerned that what the doctors had warned about their daughter not doing anything notable until she was in her late twenties and thirties. Despite all their naysaying, Ann Marie was a beautiful baby. She had almost been a twin, but the twin became nothing more than a tumor that had to be cut off when sweet Ann was only a few months old. So far, the precious girl, wrapped around her daddy's little finger, and the joy of her mom's existence, seemed incredibly normal.

Chapter 5—Difficult Childhood

As Ann grew, she was misunderstood by many people and often ridiculed for being unique. Often, Ann saw the world in a way that no one else did, and being an only child, she had an intensely and extraordinarly active imagination. She had a few close friends growing up but sometimes preferred being by herself because kids in gradeschool were often unkind to her. In order to cope, she withdrew and began drawing, singing, dancing, writing, anything that would keep her mind occupied from the hurt of the perrinial school bullies.

Ann made her first best friend at the end of elementary school with a fun-loving girl named Natalie, who had a Native American background. Natalie came from the poor side of town and it wasn't clear to her that Natalie was using her so she could have her taste of the 'good life'. It didn't matter to Ann anyhow, since Ann loved everyone, even if they violated her trust, which Natalie inevitably did later. Then, to add insult to injury, the two surrogate sisters were separated by one conniving Preacher's Kid. Ann didn't have any real desire to date in middle school, and the Preacher's Kid, Carly, did. Needless to say, Nat was cruel in the way she broke the news to Ann, leaving her behind like she was nothing more than a meal ticket and an amusement. Ann felt as if she had lost her only sister, and her only true friend. Fortunately, her mom and dad stood by her, as well as her pets, and helped her overcome this horrid grief. But for most of the remainder of her life she became a loner; never really 'belonging' to any group of people. She always thought 'outside of the box' and was definitely not a cookie cutter variety of young woman.

Chapter 6—Losing Mother, Sister, Friend, Confidante

Throughout her life, Ann had grown incredibly close to her mother. She and her mother were the best of friends and had many happy, unforgettable times together. There were often times that they would laugh about an inside joke they had made amongst themselves and it was only amusing to them as well as Harry.

Ann and Harry saw the woman they loved and admire perservere through uterine cancer once, going through internal radiation therapy and bearing the exhaustion that chemotherapy often took on its recipients. The whole family was so certain that Vicky had overcome the cancer that she had even rang the bell at IU Clarian Health to signify this victory. Yet, two years later, she announced much to the dismay of Harry and Ann that she was bleeding. Ann, who was connected to her mother mentally and emotionally, knew immediately that this was wrong. She felt knots tying up in her stomach. Despite all that and what she knew were possible results of this blatant red flag of warning, she continued to be optimistic.

From the moment Vicky had been diagnosed with uterine cancer a second time, she began to show signs of failing and everything started to hit a downward spiral. Ann and Harry began receiving Monday meals from the church's outreach program, The Lord's Supper, which fed people in need who would normally not have a hot meal otherwise.

In January to April, the decline became even more pronounced. At this time, Vicky had lost a kidney and had an entire hysterectomy. The doctor could've gone through with with a colostomy as well as the urostomy, but he didn't think that doing both would've been beneficial and that the urostomy would be enough. The cancer had already matastizised and was slowly eating away at Vicky's organs. Yet, never once did her family hear defeat in her voice. There were only words of love for her caregivers. Certainly she had times of frustration due to the fact that she wanted to move and perform and live, but despite her resillience, she continued to fail. It became so hard for the two caregivers that they had to put Vicky into a nursing home. It wasn't the best idea, but hospice was already tending to her needs and Vicky lived for a week after being admitted to Pleasant View Convalescent Center.

Chapter 7—Symbiosis

Ann had accomplished many achievements in her mother's short life, and her mother had always been there to comfort her when her relationships ended. Now whenever she was dumped by a man whom she thought loved her, she had to comfort herself. She had come to accept being single and had found herself perfectly happy helping her dad around the house with chores he could no longer complete on his own.

Like with her mom, Ann continued her symbiotic relationship with her dad. There were times that the daughter and father team didn't see eye to eye but the two would always reconcile their differences by talking to each other, making amends and reiterating to one another that they still loved each other even though they had argued.

Each day, as Harry watched his daughter blossom more and more, a strange epiphany dawned on him.

His daughter had been going through the same misunderstandings from society as he had growing up. She hadn't made nearly so many mistakes as he had in the past. She still had a few 'rough edges' to file down every day, but he had seen that her interest in yoga, tai chi, meditation and exercise had helped her immensely, especially in the management of her temper. No longer did she become irritated at the drop of a hat, and her patience had increased. He could only wish the best for her as he watched her continue schooling for the second time in order to gain employement and leap headfirst into the current delapidated economy.

Chapter 8—Venturing Out On Her Own

Ann had always been a hard worker who strived to do the best she could, but going to community college the second time seemed to have become a dead end for her. She thought she had chosen a lucrative field, but the requirements simply didn't fit her personality. Not receiving help from anyone at the community college which she was attending, she had decided to take matters into her own hands. She began looking for work and gaining interviews. It certainly seemed like doors were opening up for her, especially since she had decided to take a course that was offered for free through a medical manufacturing company. If it was one thing she had learned from her parents' lecturing it was to 'strike while the iron was hot', and she knew she was taking full advantage of the opportunities that had been finally presented to her at this time.

Ann had always felt that she was starting her life a bit later than her friends, but in all honesty, she was happy she didn't have the troubles that they did. Many of her acquaintences had already gone through divorce since they had married early or decided to have children out of wedlock. They hadn't realized that children were an immense responsibility and also very expensive to take care of. Ann was still unmarried and a virgin, which was rare at this day and age, especially considering that she was of childbearing age. In spite of all the statistics, she had decided to become independent financially and when love came, which it would inevitably, she would be ready to support herself, her husband, and children once they came into the picture.

Epilogue

Ann's story is a tale that is still in progress. The pages are written day by day and she feels the puzzle pieces of her life are beginning to fit and make sense. She is content and has extended family and friends who love and support her. Every day, she helps Harry with household chores and errands that he can't do on his own due to age and the excrutiating pain of a pinched ciatic nerve. Even so, Harry pushes himself to walk and move although it can be agonizing but he keeps a positive attitude. Often, he admits that his daughter and her faye spirit and humor are what keep him going. He's intriegued to see where she will go and what she will do in the days to come, but for the moment, they savor every second they have together as father and daughter and best of friends.

The End