Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Love Story - Losing the Dog Daddy

Note:  I originally wrote this to share as a Valentine's Day blog post, however my eyes had a different idea.  I've been diagnosed with Chronic Dry Eye and have had to limit my online time to only a couple of 15-20 minute sessions per day.  Just couldn't get this edited in time for Valentine's Day.  But not only are my eyes slowly, but surely, improving...   today is Gary's birthday.  Happy birthday, babe.  

 
Once upon a time...    

No, that's not a good beginning.  

It wasn't a fairy tale.  It wasn't love at first sight. And as I once told a friend, it was not some big storybook romance.

But it was a love story and it began in Kansas City.

In the beginning...

I was the director of a halfway house for women coming out of prison and had reason to meet with the probation officer of one of my charges.  

That, of course, was Gary.  

He was freshly divorced; I was married.  None of which mattered because it was very much a business meeting.  Later we both discovered that we'd felt a strange sense of already knowing each other, but at the time we were both strictly business.  Regardless, due to mutual friends and our jobs, over the next year or so, we continually ran into one another and eventually became friends.

When I became divorced, he asked me out.

First date was, shall we say, a surprise for both of us.  He'd planned what most would say was a nice date:  a riverboat dinner cruise on the Missouri River.  Too bad he didn't know they were serving steak and I was a vegetarian.  Too bad he didn't know how terrified I was being in what really was a barge on the water.   And too bad neither of us knew that Mother Nature would stir up one heck of a lightning and thunder show while were were out there.

Second date was another surprise for both of us.  Unbeknownst to me, Gary had gotten tickets for the circus.  Little did he know that I was vehemently opposed to circuses.  Animal cruelty in my book. I was ready to leave as soon as I realized where we were going.

Poor guy. Here he was, trying to do something more creative than the traditional dinner and a movie, but so far striking out big time.

Third try was the charm.  Gary picked me up and drove straight to the Plaza. French bakery first for a baguette and some pain au chocolat. Next the cheese shop for cheese and wine. Then we headed for the Burr Oaks Woods Nature Center for some hiking and a picnic.  He'd brought along a quilt, some pears and grapes. 

It was an absolutely perfect date that led to 37 years of marriage richly filled with some amazing adventures.

And in the end...
Gary was hospitalized on a Thursday.  On Saturday we were talking about him being released the next day.  I headed home that night full of relief and to clean and get ready for his return.

However, when I arrived at the hospital on Sunday, he didn't know me.

The nurse with him explained that he was very worried about his wife.  He'd been trying to call her and had the nurse call, too.  Gary told the me and the nurse that his wife would be wondering where he was.  He told us how sweet his wife was.  

And no. When I told him who I was, he still didn't know me, though he remembered that the next day would be Rudy's birthday.

On Monday Gary's son arrived from Colorado.  He didn't know Andy either. 

I'd been at the hospital for the better part of a week at that point and decided to take advantage of Gary's son being there so I could go home and try to get some much needed rest.

Before I left on that Monday evening I told Gary that I loved him.  

The expression on his face was like a sunrise - full of joy - as he said: You do?  

And I told him:  So, so much.  I love you very much.  

He was grinning when he said: I love you, too.

Those were the last words we spoke to each other. 

Gary slipped into a coma that night.  He never awakened and passed away on Thursday, October 13.  







25 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful story. Those first two dates - the awkwardness of getting to know each other - and you overcame all of that to create your own love story. Happy Birthday, Gary. Hugs to you Sue.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. It was wonderful. So glad you and Gary found love together. Happy Birthday Gary! (((HUGS)))

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm truly grateful we found each other, no matter how much I wish we'd had more time.

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  3. Thanks for sharing this Sue. I have no words to help ease the pain in your heart. I do hope however, that knowing that others love you and are thinking of you, Rudy and Little Akita helps. xoxo

    And, Happy Birthday to Gary, I know he's feeling/hearing the good wishes.

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    1. Having the love and support of my friends and pups definitely helps! So much! The music was so loud I have no doubt he heard it ;-)

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  4. It may not have been a storybook romance, but it was beautiful nonetheless. I'm so glad you shared it. My heart is with you, Sue. ♥

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  5. Oh my, what a beautiful story with such a sad ending. I'm sure it took a lot of energy to put down these beautiful words. You are so fortunate to have found your true love. As hard as it is to be without him, cherish the wonderful years you had together. Not everyone finds their soulmate in life, but you sure did. So sorry for your loss.

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    1. I am very, very lucky to have had the time with him that I did and I do know that some people never experience love like this. Thanks so much!

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  6. I'm so sorry you had to lose him way too soon. But his life and your 37 wonderful years of marriage together are definitely something to celebrate. Happy birthday, Gary!!

    I love the story of your awkward first dates. Good thing you didn't give up on him after those. :)

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    1. Poor guy never did live down those first dates! LOL Our time together is definitely something to celebrate and I figure that sooner or later the love will be bigger than the pain.

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  7. Oh Sue, what a beautiful love story. Stories like yours and Gary's never end; they simply enter a different realm. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Happy Birthday to Gary and much love to you all. Hugs galore from me to you. <3

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    1. Thank you! I agree, Sue. It comforts me to think Gary's with all of our much loved animals, as well as people we've known and loved, too. And, as you know, I believe I'll not only see him again, but I will live with him again, too.

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  8. Things in life are so often chance, your story is so very similar to mine and your post today squeezed my heart with both sadness and joy, because, as my therapist told me, some people go through their entire life not experiencing the love my husband and I (and your husband and you) shared. She also taught me that the grief never ends but put it like this: At first, grief is like a piece of broken glass that can hurt you and make you bleed. With time, it becomes like beach glass--sand washed and smooth but still able to hurt you if broken. That is how I feel now, 10 years after Mike's passing. I am glad that music and food you both loved can bring you joy today. Here's a link to my blog memorial for Mike if you'd like to read it http://mikememorial.blogspot.com

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    1. You are absolutely right and I know how blessed I was (and still am.) I love that analogy about grief and glass. I'm truly sorry for your loss and wholeheartedly believe that true love stories - like yours and mine - never end.

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    1. Thanks, Kate. These days my own heart is taped and stitched together thanks to my friends and the memories of some amazing life adventures that Gary and I shared. I was and still am a very, very lucky woman.

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  10. Although the end came much too soon (it always does when you love deeply), how lucky you were that the last words were what they were. Most people are not that lucky.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

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    1. Way, way too soon. But you're right and I take comfort from that. Thanks, Taryn.

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  11. oh hun, tears,,,thank you so much for sharing such a precious story with us on your and Gary's beginning and end. I'm so happy you had 37 years. xoxoxo

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    1. It wasn't enough time - not nearly enough - but I'm well aware it was more than some people are allowed. Thanks for all your support!

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  12. I think its a great love story especially after two strike out dates something must have been there for your husband to not give up and for you to not let him. I'm so sorry for your loss, I hope writing this helps with the healing some.

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    1. He thought the circus was a sure thing because he knew I loved animals! LOL Good thing the third date was not to the zoo! Thanks so much!

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  13. No dry eyes here.
    Such special love....

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