It's a little hard to believe, but we are nearing the end of our journey. We're visiting Walt and Terry in Freehold, New Jersey, and this is the final stop before we return to Oz. Then it's two nights in Sydney, one night in Canberra to catch up with Jason and Laura, and then a drive down the Hume to the ferry taking us to our new home.
We've been to so many places and spent time with so many old friends and family on this trip, and finishing it off with a visit to Walt and Terry is the perfect ending. They were our dearest friends when we moved to Oz 22 years ago, and they've remained dear friends through the distance and time since then.
One of the great things about getting together with them is that they never fail to entertain us with great stories. Whether it's family, friends, work or the neighborhood, something interesting - and usually quite funny - is always happening to them. Like this tale about Terry's brother Joey and his wife Dorothy.
In their late 50's and after decades of marriage and with five adult children, Dorothy - whom the family has always called Dee - decided that it was time for a change. She told Joey she thought it would be a good idea if they led separate lives but continued to share the family home. Kind of a quasi-divorce with the benefit that you can now date other people but without any of the nuisance of actually having to find somewhere else to live or take responsibility for your own bills.
Not surprisingly, Joey disagreed and the slow process of getting a divorce began. They had to sell their home, and, despite the fact that most of the world thought he was getting the raw end of the deal, Joey initially agreed to let Dee have the proceeds of the sale.
At some point Joey cleared his stuff out of the house and stashed it in boxes. Except it turns out it wasn't just his stuff. Unaware of what he had done, Joey had packed a couple of audio tapes when he was collecting his belongings. And, as most of us would assume, these were tapes Dee made, in which she talks with a psychic and discusses, among other things, the affair she's been having while she and Joey were married.
OK, maybe some of you didn't assume that these were tapes of Dee talking with a psychic. If so, you are probably the sort of person who also wonders why anyone in their right mind would ever make such tapes. And, if for whatever reason they did make them, why they would ever keep them. And, if for whatever reason they kept them, why they would just leave them around for their soon-to-be-ex-husband to find.
To which I can only say, "Go figure."
No matter. Having discovered the truth, Joey changed his mind about being so generous with the terms of the divorce. And that led to some fairly charged moments when Joey and Dee and their lawyers met to hammer out the final terms of the divorce.
Joey now demanded half the proceeds from the sale of the house. Dee countered by demanding her tapes back. As a two-time ex-husband, I have to tell you that seems like a very fair swap. Apparently, though, the harsh reality of the situation came as a bit of a surprise to Dee.
Her lawyer tried to play on everyone's sympathy, talking about how she would have to reduce her lifestyle if she didn't get more out of the settlement. Remembering that she had started this ball rolling in the first place, this didn't have a lot of impact on Joey. Partly, I assume, because he was still angry over her deception. But mostly, I suspect, because it was fairly easy to ignore her lawyer who, much like a minister at a funeral who has never met the deceased, kept calling her "Poor Dotsy", a name Joey had never heard in all the decades he had known her.
But hey, it's a new life for all concerned. I say if she wants to be Poor Dotsy from now on, then that is her right.
Now the real reason for sharing this tale with you is not to warn you of the dire consequences that may arise if you make a recording in which you talk with your psychic about how you are cheating on your spouse and then leave the tapes around where he can find it. No, I am assuming most of us have that one figured out already. Especially those of us who have left mobile phones around with text messages from our girlfriends - and you know who you are, too!
No, the real lesson to learn from this tale is how unexpected consequences can flow from not being happy with your chosen lot in life. After decades of married life, perhaps you feel you can understand the allure of a little variety. But if you are tempted, just keep this picture in your mind:
As the negotiations wrapped up, Poor Dotsy began weeping. Realizing how much she had lost and how poor her future prospects now looked, she sobbed, "All I wanted to do was date!"