A story of love.
I was transfixed by her. From the moment I saw her, I knew she was my destiny.
Worst Pick-up Line
We began on a sour note. I was sitting at the bar of a local restaurant when she came in toting a guitar case and heading for the lounge. I wanted to say something clever… something to impress her.
“You’re late,” was all I could think of to say. She swooped by me like a panther on the hunt and hissed over her shoulder, “I’m not late… I’m on time,” then disappeared around the corner. She had moxie. She had strength of conviction. She wasn’t interested. Well, what woman would be? “You’re late!”… ? Shit!
She stood about 5’4, and passed by me like a tornado ten times that size. The scent of her perfume and her chutzpa intrigued me.
I picked up my drink and moved into the lounge where I found a table and sat down right in front of her. She looked straight through me and sang to the back of the room all night.
Each time she took a break, I’d offer to buy a her drink, a coffee, a water… anything that would get her to sit down beside me so I could grow drunk on the scent of her… chuckle at her quick repartee… I wanted to somehow improve her opinion of me. Why did I care? I was salesman. I made my living winning people over. This should be a piece of cake… yeah, right! This was going to be the hardest sale I’d ever make.
At the end of the evening I was the only customer sitting in the lounge, so I invited her to join me just to chat. She sat down begrudgingly, but then flashed that big smile of hers and told me her plan. “I’m going to spend New Year’s Eve in Vienna some day and wear a silk ball gown and a diamond tiara and dance to Strauss Waltzes. Can you dance?”, she queried.
My heart sank… In my own mind I can dance, but that’s probably not what the rest of the world thinks of my tempo impaired gyrations.
At this point, if she was telling this story she’d laugh and say, “That’s when I knew he didn’t have a clue about dancing! He dropped his chin to his chest and muttered something like, ‘no, but I can play volleyball, can you?’ Nice segue champ.”
A year and a half later she finally took me seriously and agreed to marry.
She had a knack for telling stories about me that made everyone laugh… she would laugh the most. She always said I, ‘entertained’ her; made her laugh and that’s what she loved best about me.
She would tell you that I was the one who kept her tethered to the ground… that I kept her from spinning out of control on most days… that I taught her to live in the here and now… that I was the ‘reasonable’ one between the two of us.
She’d say that and then follow it up with, “but he lives in ‘Randy’s world’ most of the time. It’s all about him you know. He was born with the ‘I cannot be inconvenienced gene.’ Then she’d end with, “It’s a good thing he still makes me laugh!”
We’d dodged the ‘c’ bullet before and I thought this time would be no different.
The first time I was a total wreck. It was unbelievable that she would develop head and neck cancer. She never smoked–I did. She drank very little alcohol–I lived pretty hard. She wasn’t 65 years old and never lived in some province in China! How could this be happening to her? She loved to sing. She was ‘singing’.
The first time we faced the ‘c’ bullet she spun out of control and I spun with her when I should have been rock solid. I should have been able to comfort her. I should have been able to make it better… and I didn’t.. I couldn’t… I failed her, this woman who was my destiny… she was the strength between us… the one who kept our lives sorted out… the one who knew where everything I owned was located. How was I to find my wallet and keys without her? How was I to breathe without her?
She got treatment… it was hell for her, but she soldiered on better than any soldier I’ve ever known. She lived and I was relieved.
She sang for a couple of years beyond treatment, but then her voice began to be inconsistent, so she invented a different job, got a state funded grant to support it and grew it into a profitable and honorable position… she saved lives and she would tell you, “it’s good work, but it doesn’t feed my heart and soul.” She would weep sometimes when she didn’t think I could hear her.
She would sink into gloomy spells… always denoted by a lack of spirited conversation. Believe me, if she was quiet she was either depressed or had had two glasses of wine instead of one. She couldn’t drink worth a damn.
We Planned–Life Intervened
We had plans for our retirement. Some travel… Some golf… She wanted to break 80… Visits with friends… See Canada and New England from a train. She wanted to spend Christmas in Williamsburg just one time. She wanted to go to New Zealand for six months… trade houses with someone. She wanted to see Wagner’s THE RING. She wanted to learn to paint, play piano and write a book.
She wanted to spend time pulling weeds and hostessing lavish dinner parties-then she proceed to describe her vision for a New Year’s Eve party. “You see, we will all sit around the piano on stools and the top of the piano is set with gold and silver dishes and the food is catered and delicious and there is champagne and the pianist plays requests and we all sing and laugh and cry and pronounce it the ‘BEST PARTY ANY OF US HAVE EVER ATTENDED!’ at the end of the evening.”
She desperately wanted to see our son well and happy. This was the only thing she ever prayed for.
Listening to the Unspoken
I learned to listen to what she didn’t say… that was when she spoke loudest… that’s when I began to hold my breath.
I’d spent the past six months at Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio learning how to ballroom waltz while she went to the chemo sessions. I wanted to surprise her. I asked the doctor anxiously, “Is it OK if I take her to Austria for New Years Eve?” He looked at me and smiled, “I think she’d love to spend New Year Eve in Vienna dancing to Strauss, wearing a silk ball gown and a diamond tiara.” That’s when I knew.
She stood on the tops of my feet too weak to stand unassisted. The auburn colored wig was reasonably camouflaged by the diffused light from the glass globe spinning above us. I wore a cut away black tux with tails and she wore a chartreuse colored satin ball gown and a diamond tiara.
I spun around with her in my arms and her body melted into mine in symbiotic movement. She flung back her head in ecstasy while the Vienna Symphony filled the air with a waltz by Strauss.
She was happy. I asked, “Princess, why has it taken us so long to get to this night?” She laughed and said, “It only matters that we got here!”