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After the Divorce, a Different Kind of Family

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“I thought I could save Keith and be something special to him,” she said, adding that he was “thrilling and charismatic.”

To him, she was beautiful and smart, and her style was intriguing. “Tammy had a Wednesday Addams flair: jet-black hair, a biker jacket and Doc Martens with yellow laces,” he said. “Talking together was incredibly easy.”

When did their relationship become serious?

After high school, Ms. Theis-Satterlee attended Mount Ida College in Newton Center, Mass., and Mr. Satterlee moved to Anchorage, where he waited tables and later ran a garage with his uncle. For three years, they were on and off, the off times because of his heavy drinking. In 1994, during a visit home, they got back together. She traveled to see him in Alaska when possible, and after one visit, she became pregnant. In January 1996, with one semester of college left to finish, she left her studies and moved to Alaska to be with him. That May, she gave birth to their son.

“I sometimes wonder if becoming pregnant was a way of escaping the void of life after graduation,” she said.

How were the early times?

Both said they had been good, with intermittent challenges. Money was tight, and he said he had felt pressured to help at home but also work more. He would give up drinking periodically, and during those stints, life went more smoothly. “I knew I was an alcoholic but wasn’t ready to quit,” he said.

Both also loved exploring Alaska — camping in the summers and cross-country skiing in the winters. On skis, they towed their son behind in a custom-built sled. They attended the Iditarod, panned for gold and explored Alaskan wildlife. “We had lots of fun,” she said, and he agreed.

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