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Rated: E · Poetry · Biographical · #2226966
A deep regret that won't go away, not even after a quarter century.
Patricia Keith was a Good Girl
when I met her
in that small Kansas town
so very long ago.
She was a Nurses' Aide,
I was a Soldier
stationed at Ft. Riley,
twenty seven miles away.
I rode my beloved bicycle
to and from her house
for a long time,
just so I could spend a few hours
with her
before I had to hop on Wraith
and bicycle back to post
in the wee hours of the December mornings.
We fell in love,
very quickly,
and were married
less than a month after meeting.
Nobody thought it would work,
but it ended up lasting
some seventeen plus YEARS.
She was by my side,
through some of the roughest times
in my young,
turbulent life,
never ONCE threatening to leave,
raising her voice,
or EVER getting violent
with me. . . .
Patty was rather plain,
more than a little overweight,
and very innocent
in a thousand ways. . . .
but she had a rod of steel
in her spine,
a strength I've seen in few others
before or since,
and in her own way
she loved me dearly.

I'm not the easiest man
to live with,
or love,
and for seventeen years
I put poor Patty
through a living hell
with my unchecked vagaries
as I battled Life
and an undiagnosed
or treated
mental illness;
each day
was another fight,
it seemed
for me,
and I never really
loved Patty back. . .

we struggled on;
through Kansas,
Washington State,
Kansas again
for many years,
and finally Arizona. . . .

In the spring of '97
my eye wandered,
as did the rest of me,
and I had an affair
that Patty forgave me for
but her family swore
they'd hold against me
until my dying day. . .

It killed our marriage,
and one February morning
in 1998,
we parted company
for the last time;
her final words were
"I'll always love you,
but you can't come back
if things don't work out
where you're going.
I'm sorry!"

Ten months later
in Dillon Montana,
I got a short notice
from a divorce court
in Sierra Vista Arizona,
that required a visit
to the county courthouse,
and three hundred dollars
I had to borrow;
it didn't last an hour,
but when I walked out those doors
Patty was free,
and the ONLY thing she asked
was that her maiden name
be given back to her,
which was done on the spot.

I've never heard from her since,
but not a day goes by
that the agony in my soul
doesn't manifest itself
and I wish to hell
I could see her
just for a few minutes,
to tell her
how VERY VERY sorry I am
to have hurt her so badly,
that I hope she's had
the kind of life she deserved
with another man
who gave her everything
I never could.

For Patty Keith,
wherever you are,
for whatever it's worth,
I'm sorry!
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