Today is the anniversary of my husband’s death and even though it’s been seven years, memories are flooding my mind.
I remember one Birthday he took me out to eat and shortly after we were seated the waiter brought me the phone and said I had a phone call. It was my twin sister saying “Happy Birthday.” Eight more people called. He had contacted family members and close friends and given them the number. What a surprise!
Another time, I had gotten some sad news and he got home from work and saw how upset I was. He suggested I go out on the balcony and relax. He said, “I am cooking dinner.” He told me he was going to the store and would be back shortly. He not only came back with steaks, but brought me a jar of bubbles. As I sat on the balcony blowing them, I had a feeling of letting go of the sadness. When he called me to dinner, he had not only cooked, but he had dressed up like an Italian waiter with Brill Cream in his hair and a dish cloth on his arm and served me with charm!
One day I was watering flowers on one side of our house and he was watering flowers on the other side when all of a sudden I was hit in the back with a gush of water from his hose. The water war was on! We both ended up on the ground soaking wet in laughter. This is one of my favorite memories… he taught me how important laughter is.
There were so many good memories, not to say there were never disagreements, but when they turned up, we learned to take a time out, calm down, and look at why we were getting upset. We would ask ourselves what fears had come up or psychological triggers had gone off and agreed to sit down later and discuss it. Usually, it was about an hour, but as the 29 years passed, the arguments were less and less and we would end up saying, “What are we doing?” and laughing at ourselves. After all, how important was it?
In previous writings I’ve talked about Doug’s alcoholism during the first 2 years of our marriage and him getting sober. When he was six months sober, he came home one day and said, “I am not challenged enough to be doing this job (he was painting and cleaning apartments when people moved out) so I want to go to college and get my degree.” I supported that idea 100%. The first English class he took, he was told to write about his best friend. The following is what he wrote:
If you travel far enough East, the direction eventually becomes west. A rare occurrence for a person to travel that distance, but it does happen. There are people that become close intimate friends and people that become a spouse, but rarely do they become the same.
The first time I saw her, she was directing her employees like a frustrated general. I noticed the red hair and rubenesque figure all molded in under five feet at tiptoe. She turned to face me and the green eyes subsided from quiet, to an intense inspection of who or what stood before her. She asked, “May I help you?” And I answered with my best, (you’re such a lucky woman for me to take notice smile) “Yes, how about drinks and dinner?” The woman-girl lips spoke “No thank you,” but the eyes signaled drop dead.
When I think of her, she’s wearing jeans and a T shirt and smells of wood smoke and pine needles. She smells slightly musky in a tennis dress and playfully smiles as she inquires to another set of tennis, after I’ve just lost the first two, 6-0, 6-0.
I like to watch her sleep. She curls up with one small foot extended from the covers and no amount of diligent protection can keep it covered. Watching her at sleep is a lesson in living. To be able to rest that peacefully, one has to be honest, caring, and able to say to one’s self, I did my best today.
Most days when I’m honest, I feel humbled by her goodness and pure spoken words, and radiated with love which lights up my darkest crisis. She’s steadfast in her values and I know she doesn’t have a price. I understand now what my father was telling me after we married, “Son, you got a damn good deal!”
This is why I say, relationships are gifts and we should nourish and nurture them and be grateful we were put into each- other’s life and I know, you can’t say I love you too much!
Toni True-Wills, Ph.D.