He had not been ill, at least not from anything acute. Heart troubles ran in the family but mostly they were being managed. The fact that he was 16 years older than me, you know in the back of your mind that it may happen someday but are you really prepared when that day comes? I was an "older man's darling" and one day I knew that it might be my turn to care for him and return the favor for the years he took care of ME. We took care of each other.
He is probably about 21 one in the picture above. I'm guessing about that but I see a wedding band. He was married twice---once as that immature young man and his 2nd marriage brought him two young step-daughters and his son Tracy. I think he is about 44 here. I count 11 candles and think each one stood for 4 years. Tracy's t-shirt says 1980 so that would be about right. He loved his son and I believe a great dad to him as well as the girls. He and Tracy spoke 2 or 3 times a month on the phone as in recent years DJ did not feel up to that long drive up. He was proud that Tracy and LuAnn have a good marriage.
He loved his grandson Josh too and was proud of his endeavors. We left Illinois and missed a lot in doing so. The basketball games, the birthday parties and just watching him grow up. He has grown into a fine young man, a sophomore in college now.
He proposed to me on the local walking trail with "how would like to take a chance on a two time loser?" Well I had at that point for 21 years. We married a week later. Both of us knew what we were getting back in 99. It was just the two of us in Alabama when we married in January but in the spring we went back to visit our family. They surprised us with a little reception so we have the obligatory "cake in the face" picture taken right after this one. They also sent us on a golf resort trip to St. Simon's Island near Brunswick, GA
I thought he was a little weird when I was a 26 yr. old brat really but you know somewhere along the line my opinion changed enough to give him a chance. He had an different sense of humor. He would tell a joke with such a dead pan delivery that I would rarely laugh. Get him going with some story from growing up and then I would find those both entertaining and gave an insight into the person he was. I loved it when he drew his own little stamps on the cards he picked out for me. Or the "hey baby, I'm your Telecable man" cartoon---now THAT did crack me up.
Let me tell you more about my DJ as this is what I have been thinking since this happened. I need to write and clarify my thoughts.
He was a loyal friend once he knew you but not always socially seeking others out. My friends say the same thing about their husbands so that might be a guy thing. He was always welcoming to anyone who came to visit our home. Many of my friends have said how kind he was to them when visited. It was true. Few would make the trip down here to see us but he kept in touch on the phone, always sent out cards at Christmas.
He loved playing golf and studied it, wanting to improve his game. He was still putting in the living room last week. He used to play 9 holes about every other day tapering off more in recent years. He watched it on TV but preferred watching the women golfers. Not excessively so as he was also Cardinals fan but switched cities for the Chicago Bulls and always called the Chicago Bears "my beloved Bears". We moved way out of the market but he followed what games he could.
For college sports? Illini Men's basketball but he cheered on both Alabama and Auburn. We are from out of state so can get by with that until they had to play each other when it was Alabama. How I wished I could have told him that Eddie Lacy of Green Bay was named the NFL Rookie Offensive Lineman of the year. While we were not Packer fans, he was happy when former players did well when they moved up to the professional ranks. He really loved March Madness though mainly watched SEC and Big 10 teams.
He loved old movies, westerns and musicals mostly but every once and while he would be watching Steven Seagal or an old Rambo movie too. His mom used to take him to the movies when he was a kid as his dad wouldn't go with her. It was nothing to hear Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald singing away in the living room. He would take the TV guide out each night at supper and mark which programs sounded good to him and then channel flip. I never understood his watching Lifetime movies and some of those awful holiday movies on Hallmark but whatever, LOL.
He loved music too but could not carry a tune or invented his own version of the song. We often did our own version of the Everly Brothers "Dream" or "I Know a Heartache when I see one" but when I tried the harmony part, he was always singing along with me instead. He knew a lot of lyrics to the 40's-60's songs. Sometimes he would make up his own little ditties. Corny maybe but cute.
He had one dance move but I can't dance either. We probably looked a sight trying to fast dance. Dance with me slow and just hold me, darling.
He made me laugh, he made me aggravated. You can't live with someone without getting a little irritated with them or you aren't human. In some ways he was a far more patient person that I am. He rarely used curse words. I think he only really yelled at me two or three times, once I really had coming too. He was a gentleman and to me, gentle man. In his teens, my parents probably would not have let me go out with him had we been contemporaries. Riding a motorcycle and smoking! Oh no! We often joked that he would have looked at me and said "hey look at that cute little red headed girl on her tricycle" while he rumbled by with that loud roar. I always wondered what our kids might have looked like had we had them. Alas, we married too late for that.
He was largely a self made man dropping out of high school but later getting his GED. I admire that. How I wish I had not felt the need to correct him with he mispronounced something or ignored the mis-spelled words. Those things came easier for me and I thought I was helping? He was always trying to learn and improve, reading the paper thoroughly and often his choice of reading material extended to biographies and other non-fiction. He kept a dictionary to learn new words and improve his vocabulary. I found a note on the kitchen the other day with the word "piquant" written out, its pronunciation and several meanings. He did "the chief technician made hard" course work as he called it to better his job skills for work. Once he made a decision for Christ and was baptized he read the entire Bible that I got him completely through and may have started on round two. His book mark was on Psalms 17 while he had 4 pages to go in the library book he had checked out days before. He would have helped me go to podiatry college if I had wanted to go---he offered but it was not my dream to do so.
He was careful with money but that is what allowed him to retire early. It also allowed me not to have to work once we moved to Alabama. Really that was the greatest gift he COULD have given me---that time together. I think that sometimes he denied himself something he wanted but chose to wait till he could cash in the change jar. BUT he kept dreaming of big screen TVs anyway, not that he needed one, LOL. He was however, very generous to me, Tracy, Luann and Josh for our birthdays and Christmas. We live modestly but comfortably, well when he wasn't trying to bake me to death with the annual air conditioning operation debate. I understood WHY he did it but still groused.
Like me his political leanings are Democratic and liberal. It may have made things a little easier around the house to not disagree but at least we could gripe about the idiots who supposedly serve us on the state and federal level to each other. We were not on the same page in all issues but we never argued about it.
I don't suffer fools gladly but he was more amused by them. More patient, definitely more relaxed. I can't stay still long and he once told me that I flunked hand holding. Because he had held my hand a bit longer than usual when I kissed him good night Friday night and was trying to pull me back, I think I probably DID flunk. What was so important that I was in a rush to be on my way anyway?
He also used to say that when I go they are going to have to beat my hands to death with a stick as I would still be quilting, knitting or stitching till they did. I think he was proud of my quilting endeavors though he didn't often say so. One area where I longed for more support, I guess.
He loved me and he loved my cat(s). He cried when Pippi died and then buried her back behind the shed for me. He and Skyler were big time chair buddies but I think deep down he might have preferred having a dog like his beloved Misty. I could have a cat but one was enough. I didn't push it. Now I don't think a 2nd one would be fair to Skyler.
He would rather eat at home than out . Since I loved to cook and bake, that worked out well. He was far more diligent about exercising, and trying to eat in a healthy manner than me but he would never turn down homemade cookies, cake or pie when I made them. He had the sense not to ask "what is this?" too often and trust me, he never know what sort of cuisine he might be getting. He did not complain too much and just asked that I didn't ever fix breaded tomatoes, like I would! Thursday night he asked me to get some stuff to make a homemade pizza on my next shopping day. I had already planned it and rearranged the menu plan. He didn't really cook or put together such odd combinations of food when he did but had once worked a part time job in a pizza parlor. I will never forget when he was telling me this story for the first time and then proceeded to burn the heck out of the frozen one in the oven.
He hated to dust and I hate to vacuum. He was the outside guy and I was the inside girl as far as household chores went. He could fix about anything and just had the knack of doing so. Some guys just pay somebody to do something but he would at least try. I suspect that sometimes there were parts left over but it didn't keep him from trying to tacklie the job anyway. He was not lazy and expecting to be waited on. Some of my friends think I spoiled him but he did the same for me. He helped indoors too but sometimes I would gripe about HOW he did it but not to him. My way or done, was a question I had to ask myself.
He loved me through all different sizes and shapes, slim and heavy and in between but never nagged about it. He never told me what do to with my hair, long, short or in between. He did hate one coat I used to wear and got me a new one just to keep me from wearing it and insisted I toss it in the dumpster so he would see it gone. He could sugest something but it was always my choice in the end.
I loved him and he loved me and mostly we just had each other after our move here with our family so far away. I hope I showed him just how much I valued him every day though we can never say those words often enough.
Soon we will have the funeral and I will really have to tell him goodbye. To this point I have kept busy with the arrangements and the things that you need to do before taking any trip. I could pretend that the empty chair and bed were like the two nights he was in the hospital in December. It will sink in soon enough. . My life is forever changed with the loss of the one who has been the love of my life. I will ask any of you reading this to hold my family and myself up in prayer. I am so grateful for the support of my local and online friends who have already heard the news. Soon our family will do the same in person.