We're all dying. Scary. None of us will get out of this business alive. And so this dying man has given me a lot to think about. Hmm.
Looking back over my shoulder--running the film backwards--brings a lump to my throat. I don't particularly like the word: blessed. I think it is overused. Particularly in the South. But when I run the picture backwards I bump into grace just about every place I turn. Yep. I could talk for a long time about all the days I did not look for a silver lining. I certainly did not whistle while I worked on the dark days. There were enormous disappointments. The black dog of depression has dogged me most of my life. I have stubbed my toe(s)--done some really dumb things--and made, sometimes, some very lousy choices. I don't know some days if the glass is half-full or half-empty. Who can read the information realistically?
Saying all of that--I don't remember those those who talked behind my back, the few paltry anonymous letters I sometimes got--or the defeats along the way. No. What I do remember are the faces of those that smiled. Those that sometimes said a harsh word but loved me enough to say it. Those who forgave all the ups and downs we went through together. The funny stories that make me laugh to this day. But running the film backwards I tip my hat to teachers that stretched me, churches that gave me faith. And that battalion of friends and neighbors and dogs and cats but most off all family. The relational ties are the ones that helped me see the silver lining.
Friends of course--but family. My little family. My children who love me despite it all. But more: the woman who has out up with me through it all. We have been married since that snowy night in 1961. A friend of mine that recently lost his wife of over sixty years pulled a cracked fading photograph of a pretty young woman and said, "I've kept her picture in my billfold the whole sixty years." Well--I did not do that. But my study walls though are covered with pictures--many of my wife. But if you were to cut me open and look at my heart her name would be there in large letters--and has been from that first day until now.
Running the film backwards I could stop and say thanks a zillion times. She has made my journey more than I can say. One of my favorite writers is a man named Loren Eiseley. His wife of many years died. And her wrote that standing, looking down at her grave, he said: "You have been with me all the way." And knowing his circuitous story--that was a lot.
So on this 56th Anniversary I tip my hat to the very great lady who has been with me all the way. I don't deserve her. And even though I have dragged her to all kinds of churches and soggy chicken dinners and move after move--she has shifted gears and often kept her peace and just been there. One college President's wife said at our retirement: "She has always been my role model." So running the film backwards all I can really say is thanks. You have been all the way, dear Gayle. And only you and me can really know all that truly means. Thanks for it all. What more could any husband ask of any wife?
--RogerLovette / rogrlovette.blogspot.com