The Catt Box

'Bittersweet'

 

I really wanted you to come here to this section...for you to not miss this. I have a very 'bittersweet' story I'd like to share with you. I wish for you to have all the wonderful things I experienced in it...and I pray for none of the bad to ever touch you. Please go on this journey with me.....

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I'll begin with a friendship I've had with two great people. We have been close friends for 25 years now. Robin and her brother Johnny. I love them. They are more than friends to me, they are like family. We've been through just about everything together. This is a picture taken of Robin on July 11, 1982. She and I had attended a wedding together this day and took pictures of each other. 

me_billy_and_bambie.jpg (14122 bytes)december_catt_and_bambie.jpg (14753 bytes)The year of 1982 was a happy year, and also a very difficult year for the three of us. I'll try to concentrate on the summer of 1982. But first, a little background information.  In November of 1981 I left an abusive relationship with a man I refer to as 'Brute', and never looked back. I have that story on my site, as well...it's called The Secret Story. I moved in with my parents with my daughter Bambie when I left him. These are pictures of me and my kids the month after I left their daddy. I barely weighed over 90 pounds, at best. The stress of that relationship had taken it's toll on me.

In February of 1982 my friend Johnny was in a life-altering car accident and I was told that he might not live. He had suffered a coma and had what was called a 'closed head injury'....meaning, he would have to learn to do everything all over again. We're talking about eating, dressing himself, walking, everything...if he lived through it. Those were very trying times...waiting to see how he progressed.

Meanwhile, his sister Robin and I grew even closer. We made our trips to Baltimore to the Shock Trauma Unit and visited Johnny all we could. My daughter was having her first leg amputations and my mother had just had a brain tumor removed a few months before. Can we say 'stress'? I had to be there for everyone but myself. 

Robin and Johnny and I had been friends for several years, but had lost touch and were re-kindling our friendship. I lost a lot of friends when I was with 'Brute', and now I was able to get some of them back into my life.

I was still trying to recover from a bad five year relationship. I did not trust men. I was not going to fall in love. I was not in a hurry to get involved with anyone. I wanted to take time to get to know who 'Cathy Palmer' was. I wanted my life back. Robin was in the same situation....we were not in any hurry to settle down with anyone. 

Robin and I, after visits with Johnny during the day on Saturdays, would frequent our favorite night spot 'The Lighthouse Inn'. I would spend the weekends with her when I could. During the week I had visited the hospital where my mom was staying, spent some nights with my daughter at Johns Hopkins, and when everyone was back home, I would spend a night a week with Robin and visit with her brother in the hospital. 

I needed a break...some fun. I was 27 years old, free, single and ready to start my life over. Robin was in the same position, both of us having our bad marriages behind us. While most of our friends were bogged down with their kids and marriages, Robin and I held the world in our hands. It seemed as though Johnny, Robin, and I had been starting our lives over that year, in one way or another, good and bad.

Johnny progressed and after six weeks in the Shock Trauma unit, he was allowed to return home, where he and Robin shared an apartment. I loved my weekends with them. I lived for the weekends. Pretty soon Johnny went to a rehab center and Robin and I built our weekends around that, as well. We would still go to the Lighthouse Inn on Saturday nights, then spend Sundays nursing our little hang-overs and visiting Johnny. We had such fun with him.

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Johnny started coming home on weekends and on Sundays we would go to Robin and Johnny's mom's house for a cook out. She made the best roast beef you ever put in your mouth. Robin always called it 'roast beast'.  This is a picture of 'Liz'....the 'beast-mistress'....I really loved her. She died a couple of years ago. In the 1990's she ended up having one of her own legs amputated. 

catt_and_johnny.jpg (30401 bytes)This is a picture of Johnny and I at his mom's picnic table. He was still in the very beginning of the healing stage and he had lost a considerable amount of weight. This picture was taken on May 16, 1982. I was looking and feeling the healthiest I had felt in years. We were all pretty much on top of the world.  Robin and I were the life of the party at the Lighthouse Inn. We sat right in front of the band and before the night was over we would have a crowd at our table buying drinks. We didn't have to spend much money at all when we went out. And this actually went on for a couple of years. 

catt_at_party.jpg (14498 bytes)catt_at_party_2.jpg (11431 bytes)Summer was setting in and we were going strong. I made many of the clothes Robin and I wore. We loved wearing new clothes all the time and we wore them as fast as I could make them. I also did our hair in curly perms. Robin and I attained more freedom and stepped up our visits with each other and going to the Lighthouse, when possible. We loved riding around in her car, listening to music, and trolling through the Havre de Grace park. I had an attraction for Johnny and Robin's cousin Ron Burkentine. He was one 'fine looking' man. Gorgeous! And I asked Robin to kind of 'push us together'. I wanted to go out with him. These are pictures from right around this time....I was at a party at the time. (shown at the beginning of this paragraph)

Well, one night Robin and I were at the Lighthouse Inn, it was on a Saturday, and her cousin Ron Burkentine was there, as well. He had a friend with him, but I was busy plotting my charm with Ron. He sat next to me and we struck up some conversation and eventually he told me about this girl named Linda that he had been dating for about three weeks. He told me that things were going very well between them and he didn't want to mess it up....and if they didn't make it, he'd go out with me. Meanwhile, he said he'd be glad to introduce me to his best friend Ron Price. How about that....I get to go out with a 'Ron' after all! 

ron_price.jpg (8108 bytes)And my, but how handsome he was. I hadn't even looked at him all evening because I was too busy looking at the 'other Ron'.  I loved his smile. He had dark hair, and I've always been attracted to dark-haired men... and he had the whitest teeth. He was such a gentleman, too. He sat down next to me and I could 'feel' the electricity between us. It was magical! I leaned over and asked Robin about him....she had known him for years and said that he actually lived in an apartment building down behind her. Robin filled me in on him....like his age, which was 27 ....same age as me.... Everyone else faded into the background when our eyes met. We spent the entire evening just talking...sometimes going outside for some fresh air, and more talking....and doing a lot of laughing. We had such powerful chemistry. We were very relaxed and comfortable around one another. We couldn't quit smiling at one another.

Later on that night, when the Lighthouse Inn was closing, we all went back to Robin's apartment. We did not want the night to end. Ron and I went out on the staircase landing for some privacy, and there is where he kissed me for the first time. After that we couldn't stop....we kissed and talked all night.....and I giggled....a lot.... 

This does not happen with me....not me.  He gave me a ride home and we began steady dating that week. He called me every day, sometimes several times a day. He was a truck driver. I had never dated a truck driver before. I worked at a diner for years and knew how so many of them were, so, I was never interested in dating one....until Ron. He would call me on the phone just to hear my voice...or just to tell me, from 700 miles away, that he would be right on time to pick me up for our next date. Does it get better than this?

 

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August and September 1982 and January 22, 2001 Copyright Cathy Palmer - Scruggs / Catt Alexander

 

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