Thursday, March 18, 2010

CHUCK

This was written just after New Years and I had thought to share it with our children, and though I have written before about the loss of my husband, I had not directly written about him. I plan to share this by putting a link on Facebook where my kids and grandkids hang out. I named it for him. It was inspired by Will's comment.

A New Year's message from an admired Multiply friend told me he was sorry that he had not been able to talk to my recently deceased husband, to hear his stories; this reminded me that his stories would be of interest to his children from my perspective. Our children who attended and eulogized him at his memorial service in September spoke of him and their relationship to him, and how it had affected them in their lives. The points of view ranged from our first born son to our youngest daughter: 23 years difference in age. Each had a unique perspective of how he affected their lives and world view. I decided my version of this story needed to be told; how his steadfast courage had supported me for 64 years and influenced the person I became. There are really not many who have lived such a long married life together since many marriages end in divorce or death long before this milestone is reached. We had grown up together from just past adolescence to old age, and we valued each other and our life together. We were cheerleaders for each other and partners who agreed on the most important subjects. We endured the many recessions that happened about once a decade, tightening our belts and adjusting to the new financial realities. We had early learned to live within our means, so were able to survive the early years of a new business he created until the profits at last soared above the expenses. He had insisted that I would never have to have a job outside the home, and I did not view this as a restriction but as a privelege; not many married women in my generation had jobs outside the home, and there were not the labor saving appliances that are now available. Frozen food was first introduced as an option in the later years of the forties with the advent of Birdseye and frozen vegetables. Fast food restaurants were still in the future with the first McDonald's being opened in the town where we lived in the mid- sixties, followed quickly by a Taco Bell and a Jack in the Box. Food was cooked at home, and meals were eaten around a table with every family member attending. My husband, whom everyone called Chuck, was on top of all these developments and by the end of the decade in which we were married I had a Kenmore automatic washer, which had to be bolted to a cement floor to keep it from "walking" across the laundry room. A portable dishwasher fallowed in the fifties, and a clothes dryer. By then we had three children and lots of laundry. There was no permanent -press fabric, and in an era when little girls wore starched dresses with voluminous petticoats beneath, ironing was a constant chore. When we had three little girls he had me find an "ironing lady" who collected my clean laundry and returned it crisply ironed. He understood the burdens of motherhood and at every opportunity tried to make it easier.
Busy as he was in acquiring the means of support for a large family he was still always ready to go off on an excursion for a week-end. We did a lot of camping, the old fashioned way: in a tent. In this way we could explore our state and its attractions, and almost all of our children grew up to enjoy this with their own families.



When our youngest daughter was in the sixth grade, I began to take classes at the Community College:
Conversational Spanish and Golf. When I became hooked on education, he supported my goals and without student loans I was able to finish in five years and receive a BA in Social Science. Not a degree that earns much income.
When he became very ill from a service connected disability I went to work. I didn't expect to earn enough in the areas that my degree would allow, but used my experience in working with him in our business ventures to get a job as an Office Manager. At this point he was 62 and I was 58....for the next six years, he worked as much as his illness allowed, and I worked full time in the construction industry, which I knew well.



At age 64, I was able to retire and keep my employer paid health insurance, and we began our travels in an RV. Over the next twelve years we traveled in many different types of RV until we decided to buy a house in Yuma, Arizona. We spent the last six years of our marriage adding to and decorating our house. He never stopped planning and executing projects, from a backyard pond with a waterfall, to a brick patio, an Arizona room and a gazebo; he pretty much covered our lot with structures and landscaping projects. He had one or two more in his mind when he ran out of time. We enjoyed our last years together very much. Our children enjoyed visits to our home, especially in the winter when it was warm, and we got to know our youngest grandchildren. He had always enjoyed watching sports on television, and I joined him in being a fan of Arizona's pro- baseball and pro-basketball teams. As I became slightly disabled by arthritis, he took over some of the housekeeping jobs that were difficult for me: vacuuming and mopping the tile floors. He had a mitral valve transplant when he was
79, and when it finally failed he was 86. I have despaired over the divorces and remarriages of my children, and know that in giving up too soon, they have deprived themselves of a life worth living.

1 comment:

Will (Astra Navigo) said...

Kitty, this was truly worth waiting for.

Chuck was an amazing man - truly; one of the Greatest Generation.

Thank you for sharing this with us!!!