Priscilla Good Henley, Episode 1 - By Howard Schneider

Priscilla Good Henley, known to her friends as Goody, had spent a year and two months mourning the death of Clarence, her beloved husband of fifty-three years. With impressive fortitude, she successfully made it through the usual shock and then the denial stage of grief, helped by staunch inner strength she'd relied on to survive other catastrophic events in life, like losing two young children and her first husband in a horrific boating accident. But it had been very difficult for her to move past the intense anger that followed denial, especially since his premature demise could have been avoided. If only she's been able to overcome Clarence's stubborn insistence that shortness of breath and occasional heart-burn was nothing to worry about. Difficult also because their marriage of fifty three years had been as perfect as she could have imagined, full of love and adventure. She hated the loss of that perfect union, of sharing the joys of living with the person she loved so deeply. 

But as time passed, and she had to accommodate the pressing day-to-day ups and downs of life, she gradually progressed to grief's bargaining stage and the horror of his absence lessened as the possibility of life without him emerged. After all, she was still alive, her health was excellent, her mind was intact, and she had no family encumbrances. And for frosting on the cake, Clarence's life insurance settlement was exceedingly generous, and when combined with their joint investment accounts, her own monthly PERS payments and social security survivors' benefit, a big, mortgage-free house in a highly desirable neighborhood and vacation cottage at the coast, she realized she was quite well-off. But also, more than just well off, she was single, attractive, and still had her wits about her. The fruits of wealthy widowhood were there for her to puck. 

But, as we all know so well, sometimes life can deliver big surprises. For had it not been for a chance encounter at her local farmers' market one summer Saturday morning, Goody might very well have passed from the bargaining stage of her grief on to depression before then finally attaining a state of acceptance, as is usually the case for people facing great loss. But instead, this chance encounter abruptly interrupted Goody's predictable completion of the five stages of grief and diverted her into a whirlwind adventure so bizarre that even the most imaginative fiction writers would have been at a loss to invent what followed. 

To be continued.

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