Mattie couldn’t have kids and that put a strain on the two of them. She was a gardener, a planter, and the fact that she couldn’t have children depressed her tremendously and slowly things between the two of them began to unwind. She began drinking and that was the beginning of the end for the two of them.
In the meantime, Sarah fell in love, married and moved into her own home with her new husband, Jake, who was also a doctor. Sarah was a pediatrician and Jake was a dermatologist. As Sarah turned thirty-three, she became pregnant with their first child. They were following the millennial adage, baby free until thirty-three. Within three years she had their second son. Kurt was over the moon in love with his grandsons and spent as much time with them as he could while their parents worked.
Things were not good with Mattie and her drinking continued to be a problem. Kurt would pour out the bottles but she replaced them and hid them well. Kurt gave up trying to help her since she didn’t want help. Another marriage had gone sour and Kurt was beside himself as he began spending more time at work and at Sarah’s house with his grandsons at the end of the day and on weekends.
The night of the fire began like any other evening. Kurt would come home after picking up his grandsons and delivering them home. He would make dinner for Mattie and himself. Rarely did Mattie actually eat with him since she was either not hungry or too drunk to eat. By this time, Hope was living alone after her mom died. Hope had lost all of her hope for life and was a mess. She was financially ruined and faced eviction from her home. Whatever happened to her trust fund was a mystery. She barged in on Kurt and a semi passed out Mattie while Kurt was cooking dinner. Hope was in need of money and figured Kurt owed it to her since he hadn’t paid her money for child support. Kurt reminded her that she didn’t cash his checks and that he wasn’t going to give her money now. She demanded the money and Mattie in a sudden fit of anger threw her glass of whiskey at Hope, but instead of hitting her she hit the stove with the open flames. There was an explosion that knocked everyone down and Kurt was able to get Mattie out while Hope crawled out on her own. The house was a total loss. Mattie went to the hospital and Hope went home. Kurt went to Sarah’s house. Kurt put Mattie into a recovery program and Hope moved into a smaller apartment in town, not too far from where she lived when she first met Kurt as a lithe dancer in college, the flowering dogwood. There was irony in there some place, but Kurt left it alone. Kurt divorced Mattie and provided her with adequate financial support. He didn’t feel any obligation to Hope, but did provide her with a small, a very small stipend to help her through each month. He was done with the two of them and was now back in his rebuilt house living alone and happier for it. While lying on the couch in the living room after his grandsons had gone home, he slowly fell asleep in the quiet except for the tick tock of the clock and thinking about his long term plans to take his grandsons to the national parks camping that summer and then to their return at the end of the summer to the boys’ new little sister.