This week is just sucking. Richard's birthday is Friday and I am filled with dread and foreboding. I really don't want to deal with it. Actually, I know what's wrong. I know that outside of this house and his parents, no one will remember it's his birthday. The man who touched so many lives is all but forgotten by the outside world. So today, I remember Richard and truly introduce you to him.
So, we were actually a simple kinda couple. For our 20th wedding anniversary last year, we both got off work early, and went to our favorite restaurant, The Waffle House for an early dinner. Yep, big plans. We were so young when we got married, I was 20 and he was 21, that everyone gave us less than a year. While we were at dinner we were laughing at them, "take that you bastards, we made it" kinda thing. We reflected over what we had been though and where we were in life over his BLT and my omelet. We shared a single waffle as we always did with sugar free syrup and lots of butter. We celebrated our anniversary and our birthdays with a waffle, just the two of us.
Now, just because we were a simple couple did not mean he did not show me his love in grandiose ways. Early that morning he had me 2 dozen white roses delivered to my office with the simple card that said "I love you Hunibuni, KoolAid." The people in the office were in awe of this simple and elegant arrangement. Lots of compliments as to their beauty and how unusual it was to see them alone in an arrangement. They were a symbol to him because our first anniversary he brought me a single, wilted, red rose he paid .50 for at the gas station because it was all he could afford. His arrangement for big number 20 was sight more than that and took my breath away. Very elegant and classy. The way he thought of me. It was a quiet yet decadent expression, which is the way he loved me. There was nothing too good for me in any facet of my life from my purse to my car. I was to have the best if it killed him. His love was like the best cup of coffee in the morning. Rich and warm but with a bitter edge if you don't give it a tad of sugar. ;-)
Richard was a quiet man of few words. He was a gorgeous man if I do say so myself, dark hair, goatee and sparkling money green eyes. He was quick with a smile and laughed from his very soul. He was a hard man. Everything had to make sense and be fair. He loved his son hard. All he ever wanted was to take care of us. He was a man of faith, a deacon in the church. He loved his truck (KoolAid), the Dallas Cowboys, West Virginia Mountaineers, The Tennessee Volunteers, motorcycles, guns, his mom and dad, his niece and nephews, and his work. He believed in the good in people and the strength of the human heart. If you didn't know him well you had no idea that he had been fighting for his life for well over 10 years. He never complained or said anything about his illness. He would fight to the death over my son or me and had a legendary temper. Richard was a man who could and did fix anything that was broken. He believed in the power of duct tape. The entire family kept things back for him to fix when we visited their homes. He loved Christmas. He had the heart of a lion and never gave up. But most of all, my beloved husband would do anything to make me laugh. I have a picture of him in his mom's kitchen last year for our nieces birthday party. He and I were alone and he put on little mermaid plastic tiara and smiled at me while I took a picture with my cellphone. It was that smile that was reserved just for me. It is one of the most precious things I own and it always lifts my heart even now.
I didn't realize how many people knew, respected and loved my husband until he died. There were over 600 people who came through the funeral home the night of his wake. He worked at the same job for 16 years. He ran 4 divisions for them and I received flowers at my home from their headquarters in Germany. The day of his funeral, his divisions and the offices went black. Even the President of the North American Division of his company came. Business owners that he used as vendors here in Charlotte came to pay their respects to him and to me. All of them could only say what a good man he was and how much they had heard about my son and me. How much he loved us and that we were all he ever talked about besides business. My old boss closed the doors to his company and the entire staff was at my husband's funeral. In his 20 years in business he had never shut his doors on a Monday, or any day for that matter. He had 19 standing sprays, 24 basket arrangements and they brought me 14 house plants. I was in awe of my husband.
There were 3 pastors who spoke the at his funeral. I asked them to preach Rich's life and not his death. The first was his friend from high school who told of his young life and their exploits. They were always racing home after work at night and his last comment was that Richard had beat him home again. The second was his best friend and deacon from the church who spoke about Richard being beside him when he came to know the Lord. He spoke of his quiet strength and his unfailing faith. The last was his stepfather who spoke of his great love for his family. How he and I had stood together through thick and thin. He told them that the music I had played at his service were his favorites of the songs that I sang in church. He spoke of Richard's love of his son and his pride in being his father. His last quote was something that Rich had said to him not a week before his death from a picture he bought me. It says "He who kneels before God can stand before anyone." The entire service took less than 45 minutes but it was beautiful. All I can hope is that I carried myself with the grace and dignity that he deserved.
Today I ordered flowers for his birthday on Friday. I ordered what I have been ordering since I ordered the spray for his casket. Solid white arrangements with calla lillies, madonna lillies and white roses. They are my tribute to our love and laughter and life together. They remember the decadence and the purity of his love. I will take them to him myself, just as he delivered most of my flowers himself. His monument is simple black granite that has his name, 1966-2009 and at the bottom it reads "Beloved husband and father." The best thing anyone could ever say about him.