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SUSAN JOHNSTON OWEN-JAZZ / SITE OWNER/MUSICIAN, WRITER,ARTIST, ELEMENTARY AND SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER (RETIRED)
“Breaking up with me on my birthday, isn’t he a prince?” Sue thought as she started gathering her things.”What the hell should I do now, my sister will be thrilled when I knock on her door, and “she was now talking to herself, madder than a hornet. Jack was such a putz sometimes, she didn’t put him down. In fact she’d
been more than forgiving of his disposition which shifted on a daily
basis. Sometimes he would call her so often it got tiring. Other times
he appeared to be oblivious to anything she would need.
This last fight had been a doozie she would never forget. “What the hell does he mean, I’m too needy? I was just thinking the same thing about him.”
Sue had been trying to reach him the entire day; he’d made a promise he hadn’t kept and she couldn’t handle it herself.
“So I left 20 or more voicemails, I was desperate. You don’t split over voicemails.” Apparently you do, according to Jack.
He had promised to drive her to the hospital. When it
was time to go; no Jack. Sue had to call a cab which made her feel all
alone. “So it was false labor and I didn’t have the baby. I’m just a terrible selfish bitch. I guess it’s my fault. I answer all of his calls, I was pretty stupid to think he’d pay attention to me this time, “she mumbled to herself.
She grabbed her bag, broke his favorite trophy when
she accidentally knocked it over, and walked out the door. Sue smiled as
she left thinking, “Accident my foot? He’ll call tonight, he always does.”
With the morning sun slowly shining on her face, Kelly
realized that she didn't know how she ever found her way to bed. Last night was
a doozie, she thought as the realization of her shower being on struck her as
With that, panic struck what had she done? Never once had a stranger been
allowed to come to her home, she wasn't that type of woman. "Did someone
spike my drink?” she cringed.
Abruptly the water went off, her heart started to pound: Kelly pulled the covers
over her head as she listened to the bathroom door crack open. Horrified that
it was only Jack, her on again off again boyfriend, Kelly rolled towards the
window. Now she knew what had happened, they had shared a drink and a dance at
their old hangout. Jack was a force field she couldn't refuse, and he knew it
too damn well. Smiling as he walked toward the bed, Kelly held out her arm as
if to say, ugh uh, no way! He'd been instructed to keep his distance, but his
smile got her every stinking time. His curly hair, big blue eyes and a
body she couldn't resist did nothing to help.
In her mind she kept thinking, "I will never drink another Mojito."
Sober now, he looked so pretty; she wanted him. Jack told her constantly that
he loved her, Kelly had been holding back. The man started walking toward the
door, sad and forlorn. "Wait!" Kelly said. Jack turned and flashed
his ornery smile. "Could you stay for coffee?” she said. He started to
walk toward the kitchen while she rushed to pretty herself up.
Kelly took awhile as she realized that they had always been the perfect couple.
After that morning she replaced her Mojitos with Jack.
Kelly knew they'd be happy, she finally knew.
Her emotions were about to visit themselves upon anyone who crossed her path
and life sucked. She was beginning to question whether or not she could pull
out of the wreck, called her life and win back the happiness she had earned.
Her husband had turned indifferent and snotty and she was getting anxious to
This time she was angry and she wasn’t
about to go it alone in keeping her marriage working. Her ex of twenty five
years wouldn’t leave her
alone. His so called arranged marriage" had proven unsuccessful and of
course he blamed the entire loss on her.
One Christmas her aunt was angry with her husband and out of spite gave Shah
her phone number. Aunt Helen didn't have a clue about what she was going to
cause; it would be serious and heartbreaking. Katie refused to see him but he
would not leave her alone causing stress and anxiety in her marriage. She'd
been working overtime on her upcoming book and the exhaustion was not helping
things. Depending on Joe to do more than his normal share was nothing she could
change; Shah or no, she had a life of her own and he was not a part of it.
The irony was her upcoming trip; she had to go to Chicago for her book
promotion. Of all the cities in the world why was she going to this man's
hometown? Excitement and dread were settling in. Their relationship had had a
sad ending and she had moved forward more than he. Katie married for love which
gave each of their points of view a different memory. He had become obsessed
with getting her back, she was curious about whether or not she had married the
right man, and everything needed fixing or closing.
The day finally arrived and Katie bolstered herself for the worst and waited
for Frank. Frank was Katie's assistant and best friend. She didn't think it
possible but they could talk about anything and remain buddies. She needed a
male friend with a good point of view and Frank's love for his wife was
completely clear. He was like a mother hen and protected Katie at all costs.
The flight went well and they were soon in Chicago. The day was beautiful and
the air was just brisk enough to be comfortable. Katie's petite little figure
looked sharp in her navy blue suit and soft white blouse. It outlined her
short, pretty red hair and her still present freckles. Katie was stunning
but she didn't have a clue.
While waiting for the light, Frank tapped her gently on the shoulder and
pointed to a man on the corner. He was curious and suspicious about the stares
being thrown her way. Katie suddenly froze and then slowly started to turn.
"Katie", she heard as she frantically tried to think. His accent from
India had softened but she couldn’t
deny that voice; she turned and walked in his direction. "Shah", she
said, "you look exactly the same." He just stood there looking at
her; making Katie feels very awkward. She politely introduced him to Frank and
asked the typical, "how are you?" questions.
Without warning he grabbed Katie and kissed her so hard she thought she'd
faint. Shocked, she abruptly called for a taxi while Frank tried to keep up.
"I knew this would happen one day, the man never loved me, he's confused
and only wants what he can't have." She was disheartened and would have no
part of this power hungry man.
Katie and Frank decided to stop for lunch and a drink. The contracts for her
book had been signed and there was no reason not to go home.
Katie sat for a long time without saying a word. Finally she started to open
up. "Frank, am I a difficult person?" He answered politely, "We
can all get that way Katie. Why the question?"
"Well, I've been pretty wicked lately. Poor Joe, I've been downright
oblivious to everything he says. He's constantly hugging and kissing me and I
show him no signs of being happy. It only stands to give him good reason to be
cranky; I deserve it. We've been through so much together and he never fails to
be my support. I don't know what's the matter with me, but it's time to find
Frank asked, "Do you love Joe?" She didn't have to think, she said
"Yes" and smiled. "Does he love you?" She didn't have to
think for even a second. "It's time for me to get past this, what has been
wrong with me? All of these years I've been mad at Daddy for chasing Shah away
and Daddy was right; I was too stubborn to admit it. Joe has taken care of me,
loved me and cherished me for thirty years. Why has it taken me so long to
realize how deep our love is?"
"Back on that corner, tired, confused and in pain, when he kissed me I
felt nothing but disgust. The only thing that I could think about was Joe; I
wanted to be with him, hold him, kiss him and never let him go. I know what I
want Frank and I already have it."
Katie's big wide smile and freckles began to glow; it had taken long enough,
Joe would always have her heart. One little trip for business gave her the
perspective she had been searching. Joe was her life; she threw her silly
thoughts that had arrived with her fiftieth birthday away. Frank understood and
handed her a phone, "Call Joe, NOW!"
When she finally tracked him down she asked him to juggle his plans and meet
her in Chicago. He was confused but didn't argue. When he arrived at their room
he opened the door to a vision he often dreamed of. There she stood looking radiant; he gasped. Their love would never be questioned again; her towel quickly fell to the floor.
Joe and Kay
Their Wedding Day-Atlantic City, New Jersey
Joe was known as the best catch in town; tall, handsome, kind, intelligent and strong. His younger brother Charlie would say that the girls followed him everywhere but he was oblivious, just not interested. He liked the girls; he just couldn’t find the right match. Delta is a small town in Penna. next to Cardiff, Md. on the Mason Dixon Line. Everybody knows everybody’s business and when I go back to visit nothing ever changes. Katie was born in Phila. the daughter of Hugh and Maud Jones. Maud was the sister of Aida, Ava, and Effie. My brother always said that sounded like a mule team. Ava had kept the family home in Fawn Grove, Pa. (put the three towns together you get one small town) and Katie would visit frequently. Her cousin Emily and she were very close and would repeatedly double date. Emily was also a little interested in Joe and wanted Katie to go to the town festival to meet him. She didn’t know that any chance she had with him would soon end. Katie was my mama so I’ve memorized their story which always makes me smile.
Katie was 4’11’ tall and very tiny; Joe was tall, six feet and strapping. They didn’t look like they belonged together, but they were perfect. Katie tended to make most men nervous, she was very pretty and by the age of seventeen she was a junior in college. She was constantly reading and very smart, but also humble; never thought of herself as anyone special.
Back to their meeting-
Joe was usually working in his father’s movie house or studying, He had big plans for himself. He wasn’t going to go to the town festival but Emily talked him into it. During the day Emily tracked him down and introduced him to Katie. They talked a bit. He said, “I’m a junior, what year are you?” She responded, “I’m a junior too, in college.” His response was not typical, he was impressed. This made a huge impact on Katie. Always saying that she was blessed with opportunities and in those days it was common to skip a grade or three. The more they talked the more she realized how bright and nice he was. Emily was perhaps a bit jealous, but pleased to see Joe take an interest. They parted ways and I’m not sure but things were left up in the air.
Each Saturday Joe made bakery deliveries to Emily’s. This day was no different and Katie was in town. Daddy later said he was always interested but she was too dang short. Mama said he was hooked, but didn’t know it. Joe knocked on the door and was invited in to visit. Katie, who was always reading, was curled up in a chair with her nose in a book. She greeted him politely and he went speechless. The curtains were blowing in the breeze and there sat the sweetest looking woman in the world. He was done alright and there the romance began.
If two people were meant to be together it was my parents. The war and circumstances kept them from marrying earlier, but obviously they did. Nine years after they met they were married on Christmas Day. They were wonderful together which made my brother and me happy.
I’ll never understand why death separated them way too soon. Daddy was never sick a day in his life, Mama had survived cancer and lived to be an old lady. She mourned him every day.
With the arrival of Father’s Day I can’t help but think about my
parents and their wonderful love story. In 2001 my brother published a book about Daddy called,
Letters From Joe, a compilation of letters sent to my mother and his parents during WWII. It’s a beautiful book which captures the spirit of my Dad who was lovingly referred to as Santa Claus. He was a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army and never once in my life did I picture Daddy with a gun, nor did I hear foul language from his mouth, He was a good man who was devoted to his family and took care of the lives of everyone in his charge. His memorial service was so overwhelming people lined up around the block. My parents were crazy about each other and I thought I’d lose her too when he died. He was mowing the lawn, had a heart attack and died at the age of sixty eight. I’ve never gotten over that loss and never will.
Forty years of love, family and commitment should make this a happy story. Love of this intensity, which lasts a life time does happen. I was so lucky.
"Mary, did you forget to empty the garbage before we
left, something really stinks?" said Joe. "You know better Joe, I'd
never do that.” Joe abruptly opened the door as Mary put her hand over her
mouth and went running for the bathroom. She had never smelled anything like
this before. Instantly she tried to get herself together. Where was Joe? She
saw him, in shock, staring speechless at the couch,
what the hell was a strange man doing on their couch, dead?
"Oh my God, Oh my God," she bellowed as she went screaming in terror.
She'd figured out the smell.
Mary crept over toward the couch and tapped Joe, " Do you know this man??," she asked. " Nah,
he must have wandered in and just died," said Joe. " Honey, I don’t think so, what’s
that red stain??" she said.
With that Joe went to the phone and dialed 911. "Don’t touch a thing." He yelled. "Are you
nuts, I’m out of here??" Mary ran for the porch unable to bear the stench any
She started to think back to her argument with Jason the contractor. He’d lied
so many times she’d threatened him with a lawsuit. His helper, John was a bit
older and dependable. She didn’t really take a good look at the man, she was
Placing a tissue over her nose, she ventured back in. Sure enough, it was John.
He’d come to put the new storm door on the back of the house. Jason never
checked on anything. She said to Joe, "I think he hurt himself and came in to
rest, that has to be it,"
The police arrived along with the coroner. They IDed John and
verified who it was. Mary explained what she thought had happened, but the
police looked wary. "Mrs. Williams, we’ve had several reports from Jason
reporting your threats to cause him bodily harm," said the officer. ? But,
I was just angry, I didn’t mean it, and that’s not Jason. " Perhaps you made a
mistake in the dark," said the officer.
"How, we were on vacation, would you live with that smell?" said Joe. Soon Mary
was in handcuffs and being driven to the station.
"I have such a big mouth," she said as she shook her head and cried.
When I wrote this, there was a rl Jason. He and John are alive.
Mary and Joe-semi biographical
Mary and Joe
Mary, born and raised in Connecticut had just returned
from her studies in a convent school on Lucca, Italy. She was the baby
daughter of two very strict Italian parents and sister to Julius,
Dominic and Joe (Payday) as they called him. Not one under six feet tall
they were their sister’s protector. Mary was quiet, shy and demure and
her parent’s move to Red Lodge, Montana was quite a shock to her eastern
upbringing. Once settled in her new surroundings she was expected to
work in her parent’s bakery. Mary was a good girl who did as told and
At seventeen, she was noticing the boys in town, but
her three huge, overly protective brothers didn’t give her the
opportunity to meet a nice young man. She followed her studies and
worked all the while feeling restless inside.
The Johnson family lived nearby. Dr. Johnson was well
respected in the town. He and his wife had two daughters and a son named
Joe. The girls went to college and finished their education. Joe
however was incorrigible and took off to be a cowboy and ride the range.
This occurred much to the chagrin of his father. Joe was “off limits”
to Mary which made him even more enticing. He was handsome, charming and
wild, perfect crossed her mind.
All the time Mary had spent cooped away in a convent
school had done no good in settling down Mary. Instead she began to plot
ways to see Joe. He would come into town twice a week for confections
from her parent’s bakery. They were the wealthiest family in town and
could afford the luxury of store bought.
Mary didn’t have to pretend to be shy; Joe’s presence
left her dumbstruck. Her hands shook just waiting on the man. Her hair
was pitch black and so long that she was able to sit on it. Her eyes
were emerald green, and her skin was smooth, radiant and flawless. Joe
couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. Mary had the same problem; Joe had
huge blue eyes, blonde hair and a devilish smile which left her weak in
the knees. It was love at first sight and forbidden.
Mary would spend the night in her room sad and weepy.
Her mother could see Mary’s plight and heartache. It was time for her to
intercede. Weeks and months passed with Mary and Joe falling more and
more in love. Her mother not wanting to cross her husband had been
playing lookout. Joe and Mary would go on typical dates for the early
1900s; long walks and buggy rides. Their love grew and they wanted to be
Of course her father would never agree; they needed
help and a plan. Julius, Mary’s baby brother decided that Joe was okay
and came to their aide. Mary’s mother wanted her child happy and went
along with the plan. Late one evening under the cover of darkness, Mary
began to get ready. She packed a small bag, just enough to take care
until her father’s shock wore off. Julius borrowed a carriage and placed
a blanket in the back for Mary to hide under. Grandmama had never been
one to lie, but her heart told her to go. She told me that she was sure
that her thumping heart would give her away. Her mother told her to go,
God would take care, and he did. With the help of her mother and brother
they were on their way to the train.
Her heart pounded as she headed out to meet Joe. In
her pocket she found a small box which contained one hundred dollars.
This was huge in those days and gave Mary a dowry assuring that they
would have a decent place to live. Happily, Mary boarded the train when
her eye caught the image on three angry men approaching the train. Just
as her father was about to board the train it took off. Mary had
escaped and waiting for her was her future husband, my grandfather. They
married, her father settled down and nine months later my father was
born. There was a lot of finger counting.
My grandmother told me this story over and over; it
was the true story of my father’s parents. They adored each other until
separated by death seventy years later. She never got over him and was
still in love when she passed. Now, that’s a love story.
THEIR CHILDREN REMAINED HAPPILY MARRIED AND THEY HAD FIVE GRANDCHILDREN.
WE SHOULD ALL BE SO FORTUNATE.
Trying to Tackle the Wind
When my husband and I went to see “Dirty Dancing”, which he
referred to as a total chick flick, he did have something to say on the way
out. “That song, She’s like the wind, I
get it.” Looking at him rather confused, I asked him to explain. He went on to
tell me that I was pretty much like the wind; pausing to ponder I asked him to
proceed. He explained that the wind is very much needed, but no one can control
it, it does and chooses to do as it pleases. I told him that I didn’t think
that I was that horrid, so he continued. On most days a slight breezy wind is
pleasant, comforting, you enjoy it. Other days it might be a little stronger,
but it’s really no bother, you get along with it. He was getting perilously
close to sleeping on the couch, so I warned him. The wind at its worse rams
through everything in its path, leaving residual damage and people are
recovering for days. The wind was about to blow. Whether or not he wished to get back in my
good graces or really meant it he said, “I love the wind.” My shackles went
down a bit and he continued. “With you,
it’s an adventure, most of the time you’re a pleasant gentle breeze, but
getting comfortable with that is rather boring,” Asking him to continue he
carefully stated that to him same old, same old was no fun at all and my
stirring up a breeze was stimulating and interesting. Okay, how much worse can
this get, went through my mind. You never know where, when or what the wind might
do. Sometimes the curtains blow and it feels good, other times it‘s stimulating
and it gets you moving, helps you to work and gives you energy. I shook my head
and just looked at him, the man was about to have a near death experience and
was totally unaware. “Okay”, I said feeling a bit of ill will and in need of a paddle.
He continued, he’s never been intimidated by me, so that’s good, I figured,
this will be okay. We’d been married for quite awhile and it was good to let
him say this; not good, but necessary for me to hear. The thing about the wind
is you never know what to expect and that’s good, ninety per cent of the time,
it’s interesting and fun. The other ten percent exhausts the best of men. It’s
the couch for him was going through my head.
Sitting there, wanting more of an explanation; it was not pretty and the
wind was about to start blowing hard.
When you’ve got your ruffles in a tizzy, the wind is not fun anymore.
Definitely the couch, I thought. Actually, I was totally unable to speak, this
man had me pegged, and I knew it. You’re upset or angry, you insist that
someone listen and you take out everything in your path. He was right, but
listening to it was not going to happen. The description of the pleasant breeze
was more to my liking. It would be of no use to lose my temper, I’d just make
his point, so I listened some more. He was right, I was like the wind and
thirty years later, he still can’t catch it. We’ve done some lousy stuff to
each other because I liken him sometimes to a hurricane. We are sometimes
pulled apart, but basically inseparable, because the wind and a hurricane make
for a rather interesting pair.