About a month and a half ago, I posted a story my Mom had written after my Father's passing. Today, I'm sharing with you the 2nd part of this story. It's sad, but it's also joyous and loving. When I first began typing, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It's been just under 3 years since my Dad passed away but it still feels like yesterday. I hope you can take the time to read this because it is a wonderful love story and we can all use a little more of that in our day to day lives. From time to time, I will post a new story that my Mom has written over the years, many that were published and/ or appeared in a column she wrote. I will call it "Jane's Corner". Enjoy! Cindy
by Jane H.As we neared the small country church surrounded by the beautiful old trees, silent witnesses through the years to gatherings both happy and sad, I saw a jumble of cars and trucks parked in every available spot. It is a sight I will always remember because who had arrived in those vehicles that morning in March had come to pay their last respects to the man I would have to learn somehow to live without. And for one sweet moment, I felt a great leap of joy. If only Warren could see all these friends and family members who had come to say goodbye to him, he would have been incredulous. "Don't even bother to have services for me when I go," he had always told me. "No one would come anyway; just sprinkle my ashes out along the river and be done with it."
My husband was always a modest, quiet man, not much impressed with pomp and circumstance or affectation. Often, is seemed to me, he covered his shyness with an air of haughtiness and some folks were put off by that, particularly in his younger years. But I was not one of those. I first met him when I was a giggly 16 year-old and he was a highly sophisticated (or so it seemed to me) 25-year-old, fresh out of the Navy,man of the world. He was just what a farm-raised,highly imaginative, girl wanted more than anything, after having just finished Gone with The Wind-----a Rhett Butler all her own. And on that fateful October afternoon so many years ago, when first I laid eyes on this superb, potentially perfect guy, I knew even in my young , inexperienced heart that he and I had some special connection. Call it fate or serendipity or whatever you will, I just knew.
However, it took Mr. Butler a bit longer to believe. It was several years before he was convinced that I was at last grown up enough for him to date. In the meantime I did date lots of other guys and in a few instances even felt a tiny connection to a few, but always, even when a guy began to touch a small place in my heart, there was Warren. And when I was 19, escorted by my father, I walked down the aisle to meet this man, put my arm in his and offered him my entire life for the next 51 years. And he gave me his even though sometimes I think he just hadn't known what a huge, maybe even precarious step he was taking.
Warren was a man of responsibility. I don't think in the beginning of our marriage I appreciated this, wrapped up as I was in those beautiful bedroom eyes and his roguish smile. I think I simply took it for granted that he would always do what he said he would. I never had to worry that he might not show up when I needed him or forget to come home for a family party or other special occasion. He never forgot my birthday or anniversary.
As years passed I began to understand just how important this steadfastness is to the very heart of a relationship. The entire world could falter and break, but like the sunrise, Warren would be there for me. I could count on that truth always. And that may just be what I will miss more painfully than anything. Except for my mother, I think no one has ever or will ever love me as unconditionally as he did.
We were two such different individuals. Long ago we had taken one of those tests ( I think it was the Meyers/Briggs test) and learned that our personalities were as far apart as was possible to be, so far apart that only four percent of these types of marriages ever last. And there was a footnote-----those unions that did survive happened only because there truly was a strong, undying love between the couple. I think that was our forte.
Oh we had our moments. Times when I was nearly certain I couldn't live another day with this man. Times when his Rhett Butlerness just wasn't holding its magic sheen. And I know I gave him many a rough path to navigate, but after the storm passed there we were Scarlett and Rhett once again.
Warren was quick and impatient while I was slowish (this sometimes drove him completely crazy), but more patient. He could flare-up in anger over some small thing ( I often accused him of mountain climbing over molehills ) but be done with the entire sorry event and ready to smile again while I was just beginning to work up to a good stout pout.
Warren was a man of intense loyalties. He loved his family with his entire heart and soul. And for a man who long believed, for reasons known only to him, that he could not father a child, he never ever complained about the small bundles that for many years arrived at our home rather frequently. I had warned him from the beginning that I wanted about a dozen kids. He often told me he hadn't thought I was really serious. One would think after a half dozen or so he might have taken me a little more seriously. I am eternally grateful that he didn't. Our eight children are Warren's legacy and his most precious gift to me.
As a father he was as good at diapering and rocking a baby as anyone I knew. For years he helped me bathe and bed our babies every night, but the lullabies he sang ( I use this word quite loosely) to these little ones could have possibly ruined their ears for music forever. Although he had a rich and compelling spoken voice, he must have been totally tone-deaf. But no matter, our children knew the feel of a father's arms around them and the comfort and security of a loving lap when they needed one.
He couldn't cook and I think he had at sometime or other made a promise to him self not to ever learn, because then someone might expect him to do it-----he was clever that way. He was meticulous about many things, things that never quite took on the same sense of gravity for me. He felt acutely that there was only one proper way to load the dishwasher and after so many years of being awakened early in the morning to the sounds of unloading and reloading of the dishwasher because someone (possibly his wife) had once again done it out of order, I simply let that be his job.
He was much neater than I have ever been and often must have felt like doing physical harm to me as I stumbled about the house searching for the latest lost item. He kept the addresses and phone numbers for family and friends in the little book he carried faithfully in his pocket every day of his life. Without that little book, I would have probably lost contact with many dear friends through the years. But whenever I needed an address or phone number his hand would reach automatically for his pocket and nearly always he had what I needed.
He loved organization and I think he yearned for a more predictable life than what frequently was his plight, although he told me often, that he knew his life without me would have been terribly boring. I must always remember, he told me, that if he went first he wouldn't have changed a thing about his life with me and his children. "You saved me from a drab existence". And whether that was true or not it gives me much comfort to remember his words.
Because of our age difference, I was always Warren's little girl and as time passed, more and more I realized how sweet that situation was. I never fretted about a "younger woman" entering his life. I was that younger woman to him. I believe he always saw me with his heart and not his eyes. During those months when I was "great with child" he often told me I was beautiful and that other unpregnant women just did not look right to him.
And then there was his quirky, very wry, sometimes bizarre, sense of humor. Often he was most witty when he really wasn't trying to be. Those would be the times he would send me into gales of laughter and often I think he wasn't sure just how he had done that. Come to think of it----maybe it was my sense of humor that was bizarre, but whatever''''that man did amuse me!
I will never forget his laid-back reaction when I told him that I had just discovered our small children had pinworms. I was horrified. "where did they get them?", I screamed into the phone at our Pediatrician. "Usually from their friends", the doctor answered casually. That night I lay awake far into the night. I loved those little people so much, but sadly, I knew what I must do. I would have to put them up for adoption.
"Oh, for crying out loud, Janie, it's no big deal", my mate assured me sleepily. "If the kids want to keep pets just let them."
So many times, through the years, he helped put difficult situations into a more manageable perspective with his weird take on things. As my son-in-law said after Warren's passing, "Warren was your straight man. You've lost your straight man." And I realized he was right.
He and our children have always been at the very heart of anything I write. Often, I believe, folks thought I was picking on my husband unfairly. But what they couldn't know was how being able to find the humor in sometimes not so obviously humorous situations is probably what kept our marriage strong. If I couldn't have found comfort in the amusing and often ridiculous happenings I may have been left with just the stark reality of a trying situation and lost heart. And as much as Warren was able to amuse me, so too did I seem able to entertain him.
No matter how many times I told the story he always laughed. When he went with me occasionally to speaking engagements, he always seemed as amused as anyone else in the audience even when the anecdote revolved around something he had done or said.
He always said I made him sound much funnier than he actually was, but I have never seen it that way. However, I think it should be noted that never, ever did I send anything off to a publisher with out first reading it to my husband. He was my sounding board and I will desperately miss that.
But that is just one of the many things I am missing. Sometimes in the dead of night I reach over just to touch his shoulder or feel his arm and there is nothing there but a blank and frightening emptiness.
So much of the time I feel that there is this huge, heavy bag of sobs in my gut just needing to roll out of me sob after sob into one long and painful wail until for a little while at least the bag is a bit lighter.
Our lives have been so entwined these many years, it's as if an entire part of me is left raw, bleeding and dangling and though people tell me that it will get a little less painful it's hard for me to believe.
I miss him so very much, but I thank God for the many years he was my husband. Warren, in case you are reading over my shoulder as you often have-----Thank you for being the father of our wonderful children, thank you for being there for me so many thousand of times when I desperatley needed you and thank you for always believing in me. You truly have been "the wind beneath my wings" and I will always, always love you.
Thank-you Mom. CindyIf you would like to sign up for my give-away, check post below you have until the end of Thursday to do so.