To say that yesterday was rough is putting it mildly. I woke up and dressed to do my chores, stepped outside to the roar of wind high in the trees. Then over the top of that den I hear sirens. Lots of them. This is unusual out here in the country.
Suddenly, while the feeding geese, I see three sheriff’s cars pull into the drive of my neighbor’s yard on the corner. Worried. A bit later a Huntsville Emergency Medical Services (HEMSI) vehicle pulls up into the drive… not too long after the Sheriff’s Truck shows up and out climbs the County Coroner.
I watched horrified realizing the implications of what I was witnessing. Much later the HEMSI personnel come out of the house, they stand quietly at the front of their vehicle, turn out the lights, climb in and quietly leave.
Then the friends and family are pouring into the drive, and the overflow parks at edge of the road. There is hugging all around as they head into the house. My heart breaks to think of what is transpiring inside.
They were a lovely couple.
Then I think about Bob and I, and the sadness begins anew when I really consider what it must be like to lose the love of your life.
Bob and I have known each other off and on (Be patient I promise to explain) since grade school.
We first met when we were about nine. My parents had bought their first home and we moved in. I made fast friends with Kathy and Susan next door. One day they told me about “A really neat tree house!” They then explained that “We’d have to be wary of the boy who lived there because he was really mean!”
So off we went to see the tree house. We crossed an empty field, passed through the corner of an orange grove, and then climbed through a fence board like The Little Rascals. From there we proceeded to go up to a giant weeping pepper tree that housed this awesome wonder. All seemed quiet enough so I, being the intrepid explorer that I am, began the ascent. Suddenly out popped a chubby little face with a deeply dimpled chin who growled “No girls allowed!” We all screamed and ran back the way we’d come.
We next met in high school. One day my friend Andrea and I were sitting on a bench and talking in the ‘central quad.’ I looked up and mentioned to her about the really cute boy in the distance. There he stood talking to his buddies. He was wearing a Greek Fisherman’s cap, Navy Pea coat, and the biggest dimple in his chin. I asked Andrea who he was and she said, “Oh, that’s Bob Swink! I’ll have to introduce you sometime.”
I told her I thought he was cute and loved the dimple in his chin, at which point I stuck my finger in the center of my chin and said, “It looks like God stuck his finger in his mold before he was done.” All the while I was twisting my finger back and forth in my chin.
A bit later I got this strange feeling and looked up. It was him and he was making that same silly motion in his dimple and smiling at me with all those beautiful, perfect teeth! He said, “I knew you were talking about me.” Then he began to laugh. Andrea went on to her next class and we sat and talked.
We dated for a while and in that time I became very good friends with his mother. Eventually, we broke up and I graduated and left for the Navy. Over the next ten years we would run into each other in the strangest places! We would date as friends and then he or I would find someone we were serious about and we drifted apart again.
One day Gloria, an old friend from High school called and told me she was getting married! She said that she had found all of the old gang but could not locate Bob. I told her I would give it a try, and out of the blue I remembered his parent’s phone number. I dialed it… He answered.
And so it was we dated again, he moved in, and all was wonderful. Then one night he said he had to talk to me, “It’s really important” he said. He sat me down, placed a chair in front of me and then he sat and took my hands in his. It was at this precise moment that I began to brace myself for a crushing blow… (bad history with untrustworthy men will do that to you)
Then he said:
“I don’t want you to get away again. Will you marry me?”
I do not recall how long it took for me to reply, but I said:
“I have to think about it.”
I have to think about it? What kind of crazy answer was that?
Over the next week I thought long and hard about marriage and the kind of man Bob was. The truth of it was, and is, that he was dependable, could hold a job, never hurt me (nor would he) and really was all that I could ask for. Not to mention I already got along famously with his mother. We’d known each other almost forever and I couldn’t think of one good reason not to say yes.
So I did. That will have been 30 years ago this June.
I had planned to tell you this story next June, but somehow it needed to come out today.