He was born in a blizzard. They had to plow in to get his mother to the hospital. His father drove the truck that cleared the path to the place where his son would be born.
That son would only have his father for nine years. Then death would rob this child of that same father.
He would grow up an only child, who lived with his mother and his elderly grandparents. His mother had to survive on the slightest of funds because she was legally blind. He never had the finest of luxury as a child. He did however have the most important things; love and support.
As a child, he was sickly. He would play radio station on his front porch and as an adult, he made his living in radio and in emergency communications. People who did not know his face, knew him by his voice. He was THE voice of the area.
As a teen, he was lonely and unsure as most of us were at that age. He worked and he went home. He never dated.
He was quiet and shy. He said what he meant and he meant what he said.
Then one day in a local grocery store, he met a young woman. She had just left church. She was wearing a pink floral jacket, a pink skirt, a white blouse, white shoes and starfish earrings; at least he told her that later, and in that moment, he knew that was the woman he was going to marry.
He never said anything to her that day. She would meet him in passing on a regular basis. They would talk but she never thought anything of it. He never let on that there was any interest on his part.
She didn’t realize at the time but he was courting her, pursuing her, waiting for the right time to make his move. She was dating someone who was treating her, well not the best. She was being cheated on, lied to and mistreated. She knew that there had to be someone better out there but because she was made to feel ugly, she stayed.
When she finally had enough and overcame those thoughts being planted in her head, she broke up with the person who called her fat all the time.
The funny thing is she got flowers from both of them the same day. One she was leaving and the other was waiting to sweep her up and begin to try to heal those wounds.
For a year, on every special occasion, she got flowers. If she was sick, flowers were sent to the place where her mother worked. Her mother called the florist and asked about it and she was told not to worry, that it was someone who would love this girl and would never hurt her.
He would show up at her church and her brother in law would poke her in the back and say “there’s your boyfriend”. She would just blow it off. She figured if he was interested in her, he would just say it.
Finally one day, she got brave and sent him a balloon, just on the hunch from a friend.
She waited after she sent the balloon and with in hours, she got 3 red roses with a note that said “Have to be out of town, will be in touch when I return”.
Three days later, he called and asked her out for the next weekend. She said yes.
On their first date, they shook hands.
On their third date, he kissed her.
On the side of a mountain, he told her he was in love with her.
On her birthday, her presented her a heart shaped diamond served on her favorite dessert. In front of the entire serving crew, he asked her to be his. She of course said Yes.
In that same little white church, they said I do. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health, til death do they part. He was 32, she 24.
They settled into a very ordinary life. It wasn’t one of great adventure. It was more of comfort. They worked hard and honestly, loved harder.
They never were given the gift of being parents.
They never really got out of the honeymoon phase because they only had each other.
For eight years, things sailed along smoothly, then sickness crept in. First his back, then his heart, a diabetic ulcer and finally cancer.
Over ten years, she slipped from his wife to his caregiver. She never once regretted it. She never once gave a second thought to being his voice, his feet, his hands, whatever he needed. She was there to supply it.
Many times, he apologized to her for being sick. Knowing that their relationship had changed. He once told her that if she needed her womanly needs met in a way he couldn’t meet, she could go and have those needs met with his blessing. She told him that she loved him and that was not how things were done when you truly, madly, deeply loved someone.
She was by his side when they told him that the cancer was there. She was by his side when they told him that it had spread. She was there when they said there was nothing more they could do. She made the doctor tell him as she explained that their time together would be short.
She was there when he couldn’t feed himself anymore. She was there when hospice came in and asked her to let them stay with him and she left only 30 minutes per day. She was there when that next breath never came.
She was there when the filled church paid respect to the man she loved. She walked from that church numb. She couldn’t let anyone see her cry. She cried a plenty but not in front of anyone. Her heart had been ripped out and thrown into a six foot hole.
She was there for that first night alone, when she prayed for the sun to shine, she knew she would be fine if she just made it through that night.
That was almost 6 years ago.
She was there today at the cemetery. Today would be his 57th birthday. She took him flowers this time. It was all she could do.
She has learned to live again. She has a new normal. She is learning who she is. She has learned to love again.
She knows that she was loved, completely, once in her life and honestly, some people never get that, they look for love everywhere and they never get to experience what they knew.
You see, I know their story very well, for that she is me.