TITLE: SWEET GREETINGS FROM CARTHAGE
BY: MICHAEL J. MOLLOY
PUBLISHED BY: Independently published by Amazon, February 7, 2021
Review copy provided by author
Review by Ida Vega-Landow
This is no ordinary romance. It’s set in the present, without the Corona or Covid 19 virus, or whatever the hell they’re calling it now, to spoil the fun. A nice widowed lady named Cassandra Cortez DeMaio, Cassie to her friends, runs into an old high school friend at her uncle’s funeral. Doctor Kevin Berrigan, dentist, with a practice in Long Island, has been divorced long enough to be comfortable with the way his life is now. But meeting Cassie again after all these years makes the strings of his heart go zing!
Cassie, whose late husband left her with enough good memories to make her less than eager to replace him, suddenly sees her old friend in a new light, especially after Claire, one of her female friends, makes a snippy remark about his divorce; obviously she’s on the ex-wife’s side. Cassie, whose own memories of the ex-wife are less than fond, decides Kevin deserves a second chance. So she gives him her email and they end up video chatting each other almost every night. She always begins her emails with “Sweet greetings from Carthage!” (the village in Jefferson County, upstate New York, where she lives) and their long distance romance eventually turns into the real thing, with romantic dates and overnight sleepovers.
Next thing you know, Kevin pops the question in a romantic Italian restaurant, presenting her with a nice diamond ring before the entrée. Cassie accepts happily and agrees to move to Long Island, selling her share of the hobby shop she owns, along with her house, so they can be together. But just when the future is looking so bright, it begins to darken. Shortly after moving into Kevin’s house, Cassie starts getting headaches and forgetting things, like her own brother’s name when it appears on her phone’s screen. Unable to decide whether this is the natural result of aging (both lovers are 50+) or symptoms of a more serious problem, she agrees to see a neurosurgeon. The diagnosis: Cassie is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Panic ensues as Cassie imagines herself deteriorating into a senile old woman, rejected by Kevin, an object of pity to her family and friends. After calling her mother with the news, she collapses into a tearful heap in a closet at Kevin’s house, leaving her mother to call Kevin with the news. Kevin, understandably upset at not getting the news from Cassie first, leaves work early and comes home to find her hiding in the closet, still weeping. After coaxing her out, he tries to comfort her but it turns into an argument over whether they should still get married. He’s still willing, but she’s afraid of becoming a burden on him. It ends with him storming out of the house and driving to a friend’s house in the rain, while she calls her friend Claire, who quickly arrives to comfort her while saying “I told you so” between supportive sentences, believing Kevin to be abandoning her friend the same way he did his ex-wife (who, by the way, has already remarried and had children, so he didn’t exactly ruin her life).
Kevin arrives at his friend Peter’s house, the same guy he invited to be his best man. But instead of being sympathetic to Cassie’s plight, Peter urges him to dump her because she’s damaged goods. He’s only thinking of how Cassie’s Alzheimer’s will affect Kevin, but this insensitive advice almost gets him a knuckle sandwich. Fortunately, Peter’s wife Kate intervenes and manages to calm things down, informing them that a great many medical advances have been made in the last few years so that Alzheimer’s is no longer the slow death sentence it used to be. Peter realizes how insensitive he’s been and apologizes to Kevin, who decides to stick by Cassie no matter what. He returns home to find Cassie being comforted by Claire, who glares at him, expecting him to reject her friend. But he embraces her instead, reassuring both Cassie and Claire that he does love her enough to go through with the wedding.
And so, with a great deal of support from friends and family, as well as prescriptions and dietary suggestions from Cassie’s doctor, the wedding is still on. As the lovers join hands at St. Rose of Lima Church during the Memorial Day weekend, Cassie is relieved and comforted to know that Kevin will always stand by her in the days to come, no matter how dark they get. Isn’t that what every woman hopes for from the man she loves? Even if she doesn’t have a potentially fatal disease. Like I said at the beginning of this review, this is no ordinary romance. Despite the happy ending being shadowed by the prospect of a long, downhill slide into forgetfulness, Cassie can be sure that Kevin will never forget her or cease to love and care for her.