About 20 years ago, Shirley Lidel made a vow: no more men.
Lidel had just escaped her second abusive relationship. She loved the freedom that came with being single and independent: going out when she wanted, not worrying about anything other than family and her job at a market-research firm in a Tacoma mall.
Then, one day, a man came into the office looking for work. His name was Michael, and he had no experience in the field. In fact, he had little of anything since he’d just spent 17 years in prison for robbery.
Michael was determined to start out on the right foot, but that’s not why he stopped at the office that day. He heard a voice while passing by, one that sounded like sunshine being dripped on honey. It just so happened to belong to Shirley.
The two became friends, joked around the office. After a while, Michael even asked Shirley to become his sponsor. That meant driving him home after work, making sure he didn’t get into any trouble, or just talking — which they did a lot.
Soon after, the two to started dating. A couple months later, in the middle of the food court one day at lunch, Michael proposed to Shirley. And so Shirley’s troubles began again, this time in a totally unexpected, surprising way.
“I put the news on and there he was: career bank robber had been arrested,” Shirley said. “I looked at the TV and said you big dummy. I was so mad!”
Less than two weeks into their marriage, Michael was arrested for robbing a couple of banks. At the time, Shirley was already in her 50s. She had a choice to make: walk away, or spend what could be the rest of her life with a man behind bars.
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