Late one July afternoon as soon as the evening breeze began to blow off our beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene, and older gentleman checked into our Inn.
Maybe it was because he seemed so tired, that I lingered a little longer, talking to him. He seemed to want a friendly ear, as he had not yet seen his relatives.
As his story unfolded I learned that he had recently recovered from a bout of cancer. He mentioned he had been once married but he had been divorced for six or seven years, and then he fought a long health battle without the benefit of his wife, whom he obviously missed.
Over the next day or two it seemed that he was warming up to Coeur d’Alene. His daughter’s family and life in general. He brought my little girl some flowers one afternoon and some chocolates.
He rented a car and explored the Lake. He took a charter fishing boat and brought back a big salmon which he shared with us for dinner one night.
A few days after his arrival, another single woman checked in. As I greeted her at the door, I noted she had flown in from Miami. Very well dressed, reserved and soft-spoken, I feared that maybe she would not be so comfortable in our family run B and B, and asked how she had come to hear of us. She said her daughter had made arrangements for her to stay with us.
I checked our reservation book. I saw her reservation was made by the same woman who was also the daughter of the older gentleman guest. I paused to think how to handle this. Was this the ex-wife that had been so wistfully described to me? Did she know that he was here? I didn’t have to wait very long for an answer, as the daughter came behind her mother, with her father at the door.
As I stood there watching these two people take in the full meaning of their predicament I watched embarrassment, anger and bewilderment which passed like shadows over their faces. I retreated to the kitchen and awaited a verdict.
After about ½ hour the gentleman came downstairs to ask for ice so he could mix some drinks in his room, he said. That was the last that I saw of either of them for the rest of the day.
The next morning at breakfast, they each appeared and chatted animatedly to our other guests. This routine went on for two days. On the third day the gentleman came down to speak to me in private.
He seemed embarrassed, as he explained he would like to cancel his ex-wife’s room reservation, not because she was leaving, but because she was going to share his room. I explained to him that whatever he did in that regard was fine with me, and not a concern. He muttered something about not being married, and shuffled off.
Five days later, they finally did check out, but not before telling me they made a wedding announcement to their family!
It seems that the desperate plan had worked. They thanked me profusely for our hospitality and promised a wedding picture. I have seen this couple several times since then and hear from them every Christmas. They have fond memories of Coeur d’Alene, and I of them.