Loretta Klein; Cruise Ship Resident

Murray and Loretta Klein lingered at the boarding ramp, surrounded by their family. The moment came when they had to board, so they hugged their children and kissed their grandchildren. Surreptitiously, they slipped each child a ten-dollar-bill and whispered in their ears, “Spend it only on fun, nothing serious.”

The Klein family left the dockside. It would take some time for the older folks to get to their suite on the upper deck. The Klein’s sons and daughters had to get back to their offices. Helen and Bradley had taken over the family business. The company designed, manufactured and marketed religious jewelry. Their products proliferated on the world market.

One Klein son, Daniel, was the designer for the firm. He refused to become in any way involved in the marketing and management of the business. He would just design their various pieces: stars, crosses, mezuzah, crescents and other items of that kind. He did not go to the offices or factory. He had a studio in a country location where he lived with a friend, and delivered his designs by email.

Young Helen and Bradley had managed the company successfully for the past two years, and the growth was gratifying. Another son was a lawyer and another daughter was a doctor. The Klein grandparents felt secure in their retirement. The lawyer and the doctor each had a busy practice, and all the spouses were either homemakers, professionals with careers, or both. All was well with the Klein clan.

The cruise ship bellowed it’s farewell horn and began to move with the help of several tugboats. Murray and Loretta stepped out onto their balcony and looked down at the pier. They had told the family not to wait. They waved happily to the dozens of people waving from dockside until the ship moved away. Eventually they went inside and took a moment to inspect their cabin. It was the kind of place that is usually occupied by royalty, or senior political people, and sometimes movie stars.

The suite was considered POSH, (Port Out, Starboard Home). Apparently there are, or were luxurious preferences for departures and arrivals. The Klein cabin had a small but comfortable bathroom separate from a toilet. There was a comfortable sitting room with television and an entertainment center. There was a small dining table at a large window that faced the sea. A doorway led into comfortable bedroom, also with a window on the sea.

After their cursory inspection, the Kleins went down to the main deck to meet fellow travelers and watch the city skyline diminish on the horizon. They met several likeable passengers. Frequent visiting by the pool or on the shuffleboard courts led to some friendships. Some discomfort is inevitable when thousands of people are sharing the space on a moving island. For the most part, however, the Kleins, the Campbells, the Shermans and the Davises enjoyed their mutual company on their sea journey all over the world.

The ship was three weeks out from home, and approaching Palermo, Sicily, when Murray Klein suddenly clutched at his chest and fell over dead. He was only sixty-two years old and had appeared to be in good health. Loretta dealt with the loss as the strong individual that she had always been. She accepted the captain’s suggestion that he be laid to rest at sea. Murray always loved the sea and had longed for this around the world retirement cruise.

Loretta was surrounded with new friends that gave support when she needed it. With nothing left at her former home, she decided to continue the cruise. As time passed, her cabin began to feel like home, and the staff learned all her preferences. Before long, Loretta’s life was automatically organized. She was well liked by the crew, and they enjoyed being part of her comfortable retirement residency aboard the ship.

Years passed, and many cycles of friends disembarking and new people boarding kept Loretta’s life fresh. She did have a two-month affair with a young man from the crew. She enjoyed this freedom to taste life before it was too late, and resolved to continue. Thereafter, as the variety of passengers came and went, Loretta would indulge in a temporary romance from time to time. Life was good.

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