It's Been 10 Months, Mom
Today, my mom will have been gone 10 months. My dad told me how they fell in love. It isn't a story with high suspense, it is predictable. It is the story of two people who fell in love over six decades, six children adopted, many highs and lows. Their life wasn't perfect, it was messy. Because life isn't a tidy experience. Not if done right. Enjoy.
My mom was 18 when she got kicked out of a small college in Nashville because she "was too much fun." That was her story and she stuck to it. No matter how many times we asked her to come clean. A year later she was in Michigan going to school. A school where a young doctor in wait studied as well. He wasn't old, but had been the head of his house since the death of his father when he was only 9 years old.
His brother kept talking about a girl he was in a class with. She was funny, pretty, and he had a crush. The good fortune of my dad continued because his brother was too shy to ask her out. "Bob," my dad announced to his painfully quiet brother. "If you don't ask her out I am." He didn't mean it, he just was worried his brother would never find a wife if he couldn't even ask a girl out. His bluff got called, as my mom received one as well.
They went on their date, and within two months they were engaged. I know times were more simple then. To fall in love with speed, was truly what these women were taught to do. They may have been at a college, but 90% of the women would go until they had been successful in marriage They went from studying, to being a wife and mother. They were almost a display, not smart people who could contribute so many things in all fields. The simple times were also a bit discrimating toward anything other than the white, male student.
Through the next 60 years, they adopted six, buried two. They had heartache and losses. They buried her parents, his mom, and their siblings were even dependant on them for many things. But they always stayed in love. Was it perfect or movie like? No. It was far from glamorous, but we made it through. He laughed at all of her jokes no matter how many times we heard the stories. To him, he acted like he had heard it for the first time. She wasn't one to heap praise, but I know she appreciated him.
I always thought my dad took more care of her than her of him. I was wrong. I realized this after she passed, and I watched him pick up the tiniest pieces and build himself a new routine, new interests, the bucket list, but he is not good at taking care of himself. He has the lady friend, but he is lonely.
The morning she passed, he stumbled around the large house with the sheets from her hospital bed in his arms. "Dad, I will wash these." I thought that was what he was planning. He was still shaken, tears were freely dispersed, but he had the strength to hang onto those sheets. He explained he would do it because she was his wife. Then he made me promise I would use those exact sheets on the bed where he takes his last breath. That is true love.
Her chair is still empty, her side of the bed made, and clothes still are in her closet. If you were real good at fooling yourself, she could almost be in the kitchen. That is how little he has moved her stuff. It's sweet and sad at the same time.
She probably did get kicked out of that college for being "too much fun." And his attempt to bluff his brother turned out to be the moment of his life. Now, he lives with the best of intentions. He tries to comfort me, and makes no apologies for wanting to marry again, even at 82. I admire that. I would hope that someone would love me so much, that it would be their job and nobody elses to wash the sheets I died on. He has those sheets in a safe place he showed me. "You promised remember? Use those same sheets for my bed."
"I will Pops. I will."