After checking out of the hotel on March 15th, I decided to go check out the apartment. I was excited to be moving back to Saint Petersburg. In the back of my mind, I knew down deep I needed to clean up my life once again. I had gone through an incredible amount of money over the past 2 years. I cashed in several bonds and tapped into my 401K pretty good plus I had most of my credit cards at high limits. While I was still waiting on the moving truck to arrive, I decided to make a grocery list and head to the store. I spoke with my friend early that morning and asked her if she wanted to come over for dinner. She was so kind to me the first night back. We had an understanding on the very first night. She told me she did not want to date me, but she did want to be friends and we could hang out together. At first, I honestly thought it was the way I looked. Please keep in mind, I was extremely heavy and she was not used to seeing me this overweight. After a few nights talking, I realized it had nothing to do with my weight gain. She was more concerned that with me being so heavy, she didn’t want to get seriously involved with someone that could possibly die in the very near future. Wow, her words hit home. Over time, we started hanging out more and more. She had her own apartment home in Isla, but after work she would come by my apartment before going home to eat dinner, spend some time with me and brought her workout clothes to exercise in the Gym. In the beginning, I let her go do her own thing and eventually I asked to join her in the gym at the Azure. When I first started walking on the treadmill, I could barely walk a mile without being out of breath. She kept telling me it was going to take some time, but I also needed to cut back on the drinking as well as the amount of starches. If anyone knows my wife today, she has always been a health fanatic. She has done everything from Body Pump, Combat, Zumba and Pilates. She was physically fit and absolutely beautiful. Over the next few months. we were becoming closer. I had begun to lose weight by eating less and exercising. She was reluctant about her past statements. The two of us were always together. I respected our boundaries. I was starting to really like her a lot. I knew things were getting more serious when she joined me for Church on Easter Sunday. The one thing I didn’t know about her is she was very religious and believed in God. I decided to look up a church I could feel comfortable with and I found Sacred Heart Church in downtown Tampa. It been several years since I attended the Catholic Church. I met with the Father, A Franciscan Friar. I told Father I had been away from the Church for a while and wanted to schedule an open confession with him so I could receive communion on Easter Sunday. He gave me his business card and I called his secretary for an appointment. When she answered she told me I could have the Wednesday before Easter form 1:00 to 1:15. I kind of chuckled and I said, “Excuse me mam, but it has been over 20 years since my last confession and I will need about 2 hours.” For a minute the phone went dead and she told me she would get back to me after she spoke with Father regarding this long of an appointment. Needless to say I was nervous to start off with, but I did get a call about 2 hours later confirming my appointment from 1:00 -3:00 PM on that Wednesday before Easter. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I also asked her if she wanted to join me at Capital Grille for Easter Brunch. She said yes and we also invited one of the residents and the head maintenance guy at the complex to join us for Church and Brunch. Before meeting with Father, I wanted to be very grateful to him for taking so much of his time to hear my confession. I decided to bake him one of my Heavenly Almond Sour Cream Pound Cakes, some of my famous Brownies both plain and peanut butter as well as 3 dozen cookies. We both joked about this being overkill, but I was nervous. She said to me are you trying to bake your way into Heaven. I basically was just being me, doing everything in grandiose style. I knew I had a lot to get off my chest once I became face to face with Father. Needless to say. my confession went actually better than I ever thought. I did spend over 2 hours with Father and confessed my past sins. I cried a lot during my confession as some of this had been weighing heavy on my chest for many years. I never left anything out. When I was finally done with confession. I told Father I was willing and prepared to do anything to make my past wrongs right again. He looked me dead in the eye and said, “Bear, we have a very Loving and Forgiving God. You came before God with an Open Heart and very sorry for your past sins. Let’s say your penance today will be 3 Our Father’s and we can call it even. He gave me absolution and I left out the Church with a brand new attitude. I was not a bad person at all. I just went down the wrong yellow brick road too many different times. I think since my divorce from my 2nd wife and my separation from my 3rd wife, I was just starving for someone to love me for me. When I got home from confession, I met her at my apartment and we decided to go out that night to celebrate. She always made me feel important and was very adamant about me working on getting me better. I actually was on the road to recovery from binge eating, drinking, and gambling. I was becoming a better person due to her influence in my life. After about 4 months, we were becoming a couple. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I had made in the past, so we decided to take matters much slower than I had in the past. I was always a generous person so I decided to purchase her a beautiful promise ring. It was 10 Perfect Diamonds that represented the 10 Commandments. I told her that I didn’t know where our relationship was going, but I wanted to be very thankful for the kindness she had shown me over the past 4 months returning to Saint Petersburg.
Will to Live – Pride & Envy – Part 75