We met wife to be #3 (or was that #4?) the December before.

We had a grand time meeting her and her pre-middle school daughters. Gathered around a fondue Christmas dinner we laughed and told stories. The following summer she took me garage-sale shopping. We were nearly best buds.

So when we traveled to the midwest for the next Thanksgiving I anticipated nothing but friendliness. We had gotten in late the evening before so as we pitched in for the Thanksgiving meal preparations I asked, “Where’s Donna? I haven’t seen her yet this morning.”

“She’s not feeling well,” said her daughter.

“Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. Can we bring her something?”

“No. She’ll be fine.”

Around the Thanksgiving table we meet to eat. No Donna.

We clean up. No Donna.
We sleep and rise again. No Donna.
We wander around town to reconvene again Friday night. No Donna.
Saturday morning we leave. No Donna.

There is no drama. There is no explanation from my father-in-law about Donna’s health. Nothing is said.

For the remainder of my father-in-law Ben’s life, Donna is as cold as ice and that’s her friendliest.

I wonder what went wrong. I have no idea. When we visit with him, he is oddly alone and she is busy. My husband’s siblings joke about this mystery for years to come. No Donna.

Years later, we were told by her daughter that she was so miffed at her new husband about his invitation to his adult children to share the holiday that she chose to stay in her room the entire Thanksgiving day. Wanting the challenge of Black Friday shopping she climbed out (and back in) the first floor bedroom window so as not to be seen by her guests.

At Ben’s funeral his first marriage children are set to the side. My husband and his siblings were the legitimate bastards in the corner. Turns out Donna chose to create a family with Ben, herself and her daughters eradicating the notion of his previous loves. My father-in-law never confronted her on this matter. So, in a nutshell, no Ben.