She was sitting on the balcony when she asked me to write her story. I was visiting her in Lake Tahoe so our little girls could see each other. They were best friends before Alison moved from Newport Beach. I like Alison for some reason. Not normally anyone I would seek out as a friend, but there is something there. Enough for me to make the 9 hour car ride so our girls can stay in touch. I do keep my distance though. I can’t put my finger on it. Alison is intrigued by my small breasts. Hers are enormous. She doesn’t wear underwear. She finds it constraining. She touches me – people - whenever she can. I am English. Not comfortable with all this touching, wish I didn’t know about the underwear. I tell myself there is nothing in it, it’s just her way of reaffirming the bond we have. There is something though, something maybe based on her past, her unbelievable and sometimes sordid past, her fascination with my breasts, that makes me double check the door at night. Somehow I picture her slipping into my sheets next to me and my man.
She was born in Utah in 1959, into a Mormon family. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her father remarried a diminutive Japanese lady. Mother married a railroader. Union Pacific. He put Alison to work at 14, her and her two brothers. She is beautiful. Luscious with blond hair and blue eyes. Enormous breasts she has maintained with surgery through the years. Her two brothers got into drugs. First glue, then anything they could get their hands on. They were dropped from the railroad. Alison worked her way up. Her step father expected a lot from her. Long days out on the tracks. Promotions. She married at 16. Had a baby boy, Corey. Divorced. Married again 2 years later. Had a baby boy. Dylan. Both boys are half Japanese. Divorced. Had her first tummy tuck. Married for the third time, had a baby girl, Summer. Divorced. “We were Mormons, Nicky,” she explained. “You didn’t have casual sex, you got married.” By 24 she had been married three times, had 3 kids and a hysterectomy.
See what I mean? What a story to write. Ally doesn’t drink coffee. Good mormon girl, but she can put away a bottle of red, no problem. Just occurred to me, where is her sacred underwear? Wish she’d put that on.
The railroad wanted to promote her. Send her to Omaha. She didn’t want to go to Omaha. She didn’t want to work for the railroad. She packed her 3 kids into the car and took off for Lake Tahoe.
It takes Ally a while to tell me her story. She has MS. Her eyes continuously tear and her speech is stuttered. Mornings are difficult. She must wait until her legs can move, then she takes herself to her favorite spot. The love seat near the balcony that overlooks the magnificent view of the lake with snow capped mountains. She sits there and reads and knows her grand daughter Sara is safely at school. Her husband Jim took care of that on his way to work.
Both her brothers killed themselves. Over dosed. She tried to kill herself too in Newport Beach although she doesn’t remember it. She says she’d never do that to her mother. But she called me and I went to be with her. She was cutting her wrists with a butter knife saying she couldn’t find any bullets. She had drunk a bottle of wine. It was ten in the morning. Jim’s car was in the carport but she didn’t know where he was. She begged me to come and lie down with her. “Stay with me Nicky, don’t leave”. I lay on the gun. Pulled it from under the sheet and threw it under the couch. I lay with her. She had vomit on her shoulder. I didn’t want to be there. She didn’t want me to leave her. I told her I was just going to step outside to call work, to say I wouldn’t be back. Instead I called 911. The police arrived quickly and handcuffed her. She was not co operating. She asked if she could kiss one of the policemen. They took her away just as Jim arrived in a taxi. He had just come back from having a spinal tap. He was under strict instruction to lie down for a few hours. He was not coherent. He lay on the couch, Alison was taken to the hospital.
I followed her up there, but was not permitted in to see her. She was to remain there alone until we were given permission to visit. Until she had been evaluated by a shrink and until the alcohol had worked its way out of her system.
She had taken Ambien. Jim told me, “she is always saying she is so tired. That she hasn’t slept, but she slept for 14 hours, she just doesn’t remember it”.
After 3 days we were allowed to see Alison. She agreed to move into some rehabilitation center. She thought it might be interesting. She still had no memory of what happened and was angry with me for calling the police.
Alison can sing. She used to sing in the church choir in Newport. She used to be room Mom in her grand daughter’s class.
Alison’s two sons have done all right for themselves. Her daughter, Summer is a different story. Her testimonial in the One Way program she is now a part of says she became an addict at twelve years old. An addict prostituting herself to get money for her habit. She became pregnant with Sara. Alison won custody of Sara who is my daughter’s best friend. They are now ten years old. Summer has only been clean 7 months. She is now 29. Alison is excited that her daughter is doing better. It sounds like she has been immersed in some kind of cult in my opinion, but better than being dead I guess. Summer has been speaking to Sara on the phone, telling her 10 year old daughter she abandoned “I am going to have another baby, you must come down and help me with your little brother or sister”. I think that if I was Sara my thoughts would be, ‘good for you, but I’ve been here all along’.
After her third marriage Alison left the rail road and moved to Lake Tahoe. She lied and took a job selling timeshares. She lied about her credentials. “you have to fake it till you make it” she told me. She made friends, she made enemies. She did well. She opened the health club and wedding chapel inside the resort. She slept with almost everyone. She went back to school and graduated with her bachelor degree, she relied on anyone or no one to help her with her children. In hindsight she says, she wasn’t there for them. She had no idea Summer was an addict at 12 years old.
The love of her life was husband number 4. He was the one who had anger issues. After intensive therapy he made a point to stop hitting her. Instead, one cold morning he pushed her into a ditch outside their house and covered her with earth. Her five year old Dylan yelled ‘don’t worry Mommy I’ll get you out”.
Her best friend slept with this husband and then with her teenage son. Alison grabbed a baseball bat and attacked them in her bed.
“I left him Nicky, but he was the love of my life”. She then had an affair with her doctor. Then with her colleague’s husband and then Jim. Jim looks like Kenny Rogers. Big and gruff but a gentle giant it seems. They married. Marriage number 5 for both of them. Just after their marriage Jim was sent to a two year boot camp for tax evasion. A trust fund kid who owed more than 2 million. Alison carried on working to support them both while simultaneously nursing Jim’s sickly father.
This short synopsis is just the skin on the warm milk of Alison’s life. Like a delta, you go down one path with questions, this just branches out into more.
Her distraught Japanese step mother leaping on to her dead husband, just minutes out of the freezer. His rigid body spinning round and round on the slab, Alison yelling, “Hoki, stop it, he’ll break”.
The bears. Coming home and finding 3 bears in her house. They had ransacked the kitchen, opened the fridge, eaten everything discriminately.
Mother bear suddenly became afraid for her young and chased Alison out. Feeling no pain, once out, she discovered a gash down her left calf from knee to ankle that required stitches.
The night she fell asleep while sewing. She fell onto the needle that disappeared deep inside her body perforating her colon.
The whole court case with her daughter. The evidence Alison had to acquire to win custody. Photos of drug paraphernalia, Summer’s business card “Whisper Sara.”
The day she played strip golf with her best friend Steve.
When Summer became pregnant both Alison and Jim knew they would be raising the baby just as soon as she was born. Sara has been an absolute joy for them both. As soon as Jim was released, they piled in a car and moved to Newport Beach, away from Summer, away from the glut of adulterous affairs, away from the scent of the tax man.
And that is where I met them.
Alison had symptoms of MS in her early 30s although she was not diagnosed until her late 30s. She was typing one night and lost feeling in one hand. They thought she’d had a stroke, she was off work for a few days. Symptoms came and went.
I think she is in denial just how fast the disease is progressing. She contradicts herself. She is forgetful. She is always bumping into things. Always tired, often asleep. Her legs don’t work in the mornings. Her eyes leak. Her speech is stuttered.
She is still a beauty, and much humbled by her life experiences. Easily mortified when she falls and people think she is just another drunk in the Tahoe casinos. I am in awe of the way she interacts with my girls and Sara, and her love for animals. Her obvious pleasure in sitting on her love seat, over looking the lake reading, one hand petting George their new corgi. Tis a peace we all hope to find, tis a surrender and an acceptance we all yearn for.
Biographer wanted, before it’s too late.
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