It had been a painful divorce. Fran had discovered that her husband's business trips had necessitated his secretary's services and that did not include taking dictation. Her
friends had warned her that the wealthy young CEO was a "player" but she had ignored
them, even when he had insisted on a prenuptial agreement which left her little, should
the marriage end.
For the first year, life had seemed blissful to her. David worked hard but he was very
attentive. Their life was a round of social events, parties, season's tickets to the opera,
symphony, theatre, sports events. They often got away with friends for long weekends
to Mexico, Hawaii, and Canada but, slowly, that began to change. David pleaded
increasingly demanding international clientele and, if they managed dinner together
twice a week, it was a major happening.
The night of their second anniversary, they had reservations for the weekend at Napa's
Silverado Country Club. David had their driver take her early on Friday, explaining he had
a business meeting at 5PM but would join her in the dining room at 7PM. She took great
care to dress exquisitely, in a new gown she had gotten at Neiman Marcus the week
before. The waiter had a bottle of Kristal champagne chilling and, as the maître d'hôtel,
walked her to her seat, he quickly opened it and poured her a glass. She smiled as he
handed her the menu, inquiring if she was dining alone. Fran exlained that Mr. Devries
should be arriving in ten minutes.
Half an hour later, as she was quietly seething, the maître d'hôtel returned and handed her
an envelope with the country club letter head. "It was delivered by your husband's driver,"
he explained. Fran took it and walked out of the dining room and back to their suite.
Inside the envelope, David had written a terse note, stating only that he no longer wished
to remain married to her, had filed for divorce and was enclosing a check for $50,000
to help her begin life on her own. He expected her to vacate the house in a week. She
could keep her clothing and personal belongings and all the jewelry he had given her, and
her car, but nothing more.
In between fits of tears, Fran plunged into a frenzy of house hunting. Her $50,000
wouldn't go far, even augmented by her savings of $25,000. When her realtor finally
called with a little cottage in the Sierra foothills, "a bit rundown but with potential", she
agreed to make the 130 mile drive. It was love at first sight. Armed with her camera,
Fran took a hundred photos.
The cottage was seventy years old, with a magnificent view of the mountains. A porch
wrapped around the entire front of the house and an awning kept out the bright evening
sun. A brook gurgled on part of the two acres of land belonging to the house. There was
a huge living room and kitchen, two bedrooms and a large bathroom and a screened
porch on the back of the house. Daisies and poppies grew in profusion and tangles
of rambling rose bushes grew in disarray all along the drive leading up to the house.
The yard was bone dry, desperately in need of water, and large planters of shriveled
vegetation filled the back porch and yard. An old rusted watering can sat near the steps.
Her mother was horrified when she drove up to see it but Fran had already put $25,000
down on the house. She explained that the quiet and solitude were just what she needed
right now and she planned to finish the novel she had begun right before she met David.
She found a handyman advertised at the market in town and, within two weeks, the
entire place had been painted inside and out. The blue paint and white shutters gave
the place a cheerful facade and Fran was busily at work on window planters and flowers.
In the back, she found some boxes full of bulbs. She had no idea what they were so
she planted them in the yard along the back porch. There was no faucet back there so
she cleaned up the old watering can, painted it with dark green paint, and used it to
water her bulbs. It served its purpose very well! In April, before Easter, she was
rewarded with a glorious display of tulips of yellows, pinks, and reds. As they poked
their heads heavenward, her heart began to open up to the sun as well.