Alex made a little card one autumn day in 2021. On the front, he drew a man with glasses and a cane. A tissue paper flower was perched atop the card and below was written Grandpa Bob.
On the back of the card was the childlike penmanship of an 8 year old pouring our the thoughts of a poet, far beyond that of a child.
You died when I was just toddler. I knew you were sick, but I thought you had time. I should have savored those moments, for I would never experience that again.
(followed with a small drawing of a broken heart)
I miss you, Bob…
And such were the thoughts on the mind of a child who had only lived a scant eight years at that time. I cherish this little card. Alex is nine now (almost 10 as I would be corrected!). Just imagine what Alex will have to say in 10 years.
You have tears in your eyes right now – don’t you, honey?
I had a canvas of this print made a few years ago. I must have hundreds of photos almost the same. The look you had listening to the musings of one of the kids or grandkids. The look on your face just before the laugh out loud. Beautiful blue eyes with the twinkle under the thick light brown lashes. Your eyes never faded – even in the last days.
I often look up at the canvas when I hear a funny musing that I know you would enjoy or when I feel the intensity of that damn Blacklist tv show you got me hooked on. And every night before sleep, I see that canvas – that look – and I think my heart will just burst open from the pain. Knowing I have faced another day without you here with me is difficult. Knowing that I have to do it all over again the next morning is sometimes just too damn hard to bear. But that is what I do. I know it is what you want me to do – to face life head on just as you always did. And I try.
You have the biggest piece of my heart and soul. You always will. And I will keep trying to make you proud.
It was difficult to imagine as two teenagers entering into adulthood and parenthood. As the years began to number in the double digits, it seemed more possible.
Our 2nd anniversary was celebrated with an evening drive thru Estes Park and a candlelight dinner at the Greenbriar near Boulder. The forest was a mere 30 miles from our apartment in Longmont and made for a beautiful detour. Another 40 miles to the Greenbriar Inn, nestled at the foot of the mountains. We were dressed as though we were headed to prom, and the staff seemed to enjoy pampering these two young marrieds with chateaubriand and baked Alaska served by vested waiters. We were out on the town with an 18 month old at home. So we did what most couples with kids do when they have the opportunity to dash from the normalcy of real life and into a special night of celebration – we talked about baby Cristopher. Even so, it was magical. So perfect.
We always thought we would return to celebrate other anniversaries.
We never did. Life took us on other adventures.
Bob was scheduled to attend a VW parts manager meeting in Albuquerque on our 5th anniversary. Ricky was only a couple of months old, but Mom took charge – “I think after six kids I am more than qualified to watch two kids, so just GO” – in her own not so unassuming way. On the evening of our actual anniversary, we had dinner at a local hotel restaurant; and I honestly cannot say in which hotel we were booked. But I remember it was a dressy, upscale restaurant with luxurious surroundings, white tablecloths, candlelit table settings; and of course, Bob had five long stemmed roses waiting for me, but this time 3 red and two yellow to represent our two sons. After the soup flambe was served, we enjoyed the light piano and the ambience of the entire evening. Just another of the many anniversaries we would celebrate, leaving us with memories to make us smile.
10 years was a real milestone for us. When you are so young, that seems like a lifetime. Bob had a special brown leather cowboy hat he loved and only wore once in a while – so he could keep it nice. I bought him a handmade hatband of beautiful feathers and a few beads. The colors were just as he liked and he oohed and aahed over the gift as I certainly did my 10 long stemmed red roses. We had a sitter for the evening and made our way to dinner at one of our favorite places – the Feed Lot on 2nd and Main. Their steaks were beyond tender and seasoned perfectly. A pianist was entertaining and a complimentary dessert was served, when they found out we were celebrating our anniversary. During dessert, you surprised me with a tiny box. A ring inside with four perfect diamonds to celebrate our family of four. I went to tears. To this day it is one of my favorite rings and I wear it often. I lost it for a few years. After going thru each pocket and drawer and handbag and wallet more than once, I resigned myself that I must have left it in a purse or piece of clothing that I had donated. After two years of searching and giving up, one day Kerri shows up and holds the ring out. “Is this yours?” It had been in some craft things I had given her a few years earlier and she was just going thru it to see what she could use for the kids or her students, and found my ring. I couldn’t hug her enough. My ring is home.
Our 20th anniversary was probably the most eventful of all of our 44 anniversaries. My mother’s death on November 26, 1988 hit me hard. I was left with unanswered questions and disturbing nightmares and feeling as though I was in a complete fog and in a dark depression. I returned to church and needed something traditional like St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Grand Junction, as opposed to the “lighter” guitar masses becoming so popular at that time. I chose St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in our adopted home town of Tucson.
All of this paved the way for our marriage rededication. So, on Friday, April 5, 1991, we renewed our vows and were married in the Catholic faith at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Tucson, Arizona. Fr. O’Flannigan presided. My father walked me down the aisle this time. Robyn was my Maid of Honor and Cris and Ricky were Bob’s Best Men. I carried a very heavy bouquet of 20 long stemmed roses in ivory cascading down the front of my dress. We had a little party with a few guests back at our home and thoroughly enjoyed the company and conversation. Bob and Cristopher and Ricky selected a gold anniversary band of diamonds for the ceremony, which I cherish. At the party, Bob gifted me an amethyst rosary with a gold cross. That man always had good taste in my jewelry! It was a night to remember.
We had many anniversaries. Some big deals. Many quiet with just us. I wanted so many more years with you. But I am so grateful for the years we did have. I would do it all over again, just the way it was. Sweet memories.
We didn’t quite make it to 50 years. You sure tried. And I love you all the more for it.