Rhett and I decided to plan a trip into New Orleans for her to meet my Mom & Tudye, my Grandma, Aunt & Uncle and a few of my friends. I know she was a bit nervous due to some of the comments she overheard mainly from my Mom about Rhett being 14 1/2 years older than me, while I was on the phone. Needless to say, the initial meeting went better than I expected. Rhett was a very kind person and had a mild disposition. She was not confrontational at all. As a matter of fact, after about an hour, you could sense the tension going away. I knew my Mom was not going to make a scene nor was anyone else in my family. We finally left after about a 2 hour visit and decided to go to dinner with my Mom and Tudye the following night. After we left my Mom’s house, we spent time at my Aunt Pat’s and Uncle Austin’s home, which was literally around the corner. At the time, my grandma also lived with my Aunt and Uncle. Immediately, my grandma took a liking to Rhett. Actually, Grandma liked just about everyone. We had a nice visit and after some time we left that evening to pick up my daughter Karen from her mother’s home to go to dinner. Rhett had already met Karen on a few other occasions when I worked for Schwegmann Giant Supermarkets as Director of Bakery Operations. Karen was very polite to Rhett, but you could see down deep she was stirring with anger at me underneath those fake smiles. The topic of conversation was very strained. I guess I wanted everything to be normal, but it was cordial at best. We did spend a few more days with Karen, mainly going out to dinner and then the obvious, going shopping to buy her clothes and shoes or basically anything she wanted. If nothing else, it made me feel better and less guilty about moving to Charlotte, NC. A norm that lasted for almost 20+ years after divorcing her mother.
After our visits with my family, I introduced Rhett to several of my close friends. My best friend John liked Rhett from the start. He would always say to me, if you happy, that’s all that matters to me. John was able to get along with Rhett pretty easy due to her background in bakery. It was easy to sit around and talk shop, because that is what we all basically knew. John was actually the first person I told about Rhett. He never questioned me about the age difference. We always talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly in just about any situation. I remember John pulling me on the side and as a loving brother would say, ” what’s going on with your weight. You are getting to be Big Pat again, which I know you hate down deep when anyone calls you that??” John was right. I was eating my ass off due to the worry I had on how my family was going to treat Rhett. It was my own inner destruction. The only thing I can truly say, is Rhett never said anything to me about my eating or drinking. Sometimes I don’t really know if that was good thing or a bad thing. I was in that self destructive mode, even though I was happy being with Rhett. I guess it felt good that she never cared or at least harped on me about my size!!
After a couple of days, we said our goodbyes to family and friends and headed back to Charlotte, NC. That following November of 1997, our relationship took another turn. Rhett and I were getting more involved and serious about our love for one another. We actually started talking about getting married. The funny part of this story is I wasn’t even fully divorced from my first wife Jane. I had an engagement ring made for Rhett and gave it to her the Thanksgiving of 1997. Of course, everything I did since I had a great paying job was very massive. I purchased a very nice size 2 1/2 Carat Diamond Engagement Ring for Rhett. Needless to say, she was absolutely thrilled and excited with the Marquis Shaped Diamond. It was the largest Diamond Ring I had ever purchased. My pride was in full swing, needing to give the largest that I could afford without going into tremendous debt. I guess down deep, I was trying to impress Rhett on one hand while making Jane jealous on the other. This was my own ego that was getting in the way. As a Compulsive Overeater and someone that was battling the 7 Deadly Sins of Mankind, everything needed to be on a grandioso scale. As time went on, I started living way beyond my financial means. It just got out of control. I was slowly going into financial debt, which was kept a secret from Rhett.
Will to Live – Gluttony, Envy, Anger & Greed – Part 35