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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Writing Pure Love - IWSG May 2020





It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. Co-hosts for the May are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken.

Oh, my dears…

I’ve never missed a monthly IWSG and posting is a comfort now because for the most part, I’ve lost my routine. No getting up at 5:30 to write before work. No morning time in the “zone.” A few days ago, I tried, sitting down to work on my current project, but I couldn’t remember what had been in my brain when I left off weeks ago, so gave it up. 

The truth is, I have actually written this month, the hardest, yet most treasured piece I’ve ever created—an obituary for my sweet husband who lost his battle with melanoma two weeks ago.

Organized soul that he was, he’d written a draft death notice that summed up dates and facts. I almost laughed when I read it, none of it touching on the nuance of him. How he broke every seriousness with humor. How you could count on him for absolutely anything. How he loved quoting Monty Python, and Saturday nights in the fall by the fire when in jest, he’d repeat a phrase his dad said so often our eyes rolled, “A fire really warms up the place.” There was nothing about our tradition of weekly date-nights, a habit formed early in our marriage when we couldn’t afford to go out that became so ingrained, thirty-five years later when we missed one, we’d sit down at our table the next weekend filled with relief. It failed to mention how our now-grown-up nieces and nephews used to call him Uncle Fun. Or how, when we stayed overnight with my sister and the kids demanded a bedtime story from him, an hour later I’d have to tug him away because he’d be having such a good time, he’d have kept them up forever. It didn’t mention how he was the best gift-giver because he listened and remembered. So many birthdays I’d open a present and say, “Oh my gosh, I wanted one of these,” and he’d say, “I know. You said so months ago,” and I’d be shocked. “I did??”

His version including nothing about how his eyes lit up whenever he saw our daughter, or how when she was small, he co-opted a story theme I’d started with her using Tweetie-Bird from the old Loony Tunes cartoon, making it his own and so very much more. Or how they’d giggle together on her bed and how once again I’d have to prod him out of her room so she could get enough sleep. And while his draft mentioned his love for sailing, it didn’t talk about how proud he was of his lovely and pristine boat, moored across from a public dock, visible to all who launched in the harbor.

His bare-bones notes didn’t include details about the little surprises he left me around the yard. A sculpted orchestra of instrument-bearing frogs tucked into a hollow behind the shed, two azalea bushes it took me weeks to notice, a plaque mounted onto an old tree stump, “Please don’t piss off the fairies.” It didn’t include how he loved cookies or how he’d arrive home from work and with coat still on, reach his hand into the jar. Or how when his genetic high cholesterol became a minor issue, he gave up those cookies cold-turkey and created a food regime he prepared for himself: plain oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch with vinegar—no oil, pretzels and carrot sticks and how after that meager fare, he’d come home uncomplaining to whatever low-fat dinner I’d concocted, no cookies allowed. Or how without an alarm, he got up at 3:45 am on week days to exercise.

It didn’t touch on his love for Christmas. How he so liked my gift of a nutcracker our first Christmas, it morphed into a yearly tradition. Even this past December when he was feeling poorly, he unwrapped a collection whose count easily exceeded our number of years together and displayed them in the family room, the dining room and on the living room mantle. Or how important it was to him that our tree had enough lights. Well, trees, I should say. Because we had three. A live tree in the family room, and once our cat passed away, an artificial tree in the living room on which we hung our delicate ornaments, and his tree downstairs in the “man cave,” where he hung snowman lights and all the macaroni holiday decorations our daughter ever made in school. Don’t even get me going on the Christmas fairyland that was our outside. 

Oh, I could tell stories about him forever.

But the thing about obituaries is they’re revenue for the publishers and here’s one more thing about Tim. He wouldn’t want me to waste the money. When I found his draft, I knew I had to find a way to make it reflect him without breaking the bank. So, with his permission before he left us, I re-wrote it, adding enough with the hope that not only would it read true for those who knew him, but also so those who hadn’t known him would feel what they had missed. And soon after he left us, it appeared in print and online. My love. Edited to 443 words—condensing an encyclopedia of joyous memories into two columns, when even a million words could never be enough.


23 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Liza, I am really sorry! Prayers for you. What you just wrote about him was beautiful.

Nick Wilford said...

It's funny that he loved Python because when I saw his picture I was struck by the resemblance to John Cleese. I'm sure that was remarked on many times! This is a beautiful tribute both here and in the obituary. I'm sorry for your loss.

Jan Morrison said...

Oh Liza, I have no words. Thank you for bravely sharing your lovely husband with us, and I send you all I can - love - for although we've never met, I count you as a friend.

Joanne said...

so many minutes, hours, days, and years of memories. I'm sorry for your loss. This is the BEST writing of your life, and I appreciate that you shared it with us. Wish I could have met your husband - he sounded like a gem.
Take care - sending a big virtual hug to you and your daughter.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Through these lovely words, you have given us the opportunity to "meet" your husband and it was a pleasure. Thank you.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Liz, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your husband sounds like such a sweet, thoughtful partner. I lost my husband suddenly six year ago and know how painful it can be going on. Feel free to email me if you need to talk ever, even six months or a year from now. I'm here for you and we could exchange cellphone numbers if you want to talk on the phone.

Bish Denham said...

Liza, A most beautiful tribute to your sweetheart and best friend. May you and your family find joy and peace in all your wonderful memories of him. May these memories bring you comfort as you navigate through this new reality. Many ((hugs)).

Dixie Jackson said...

Thank you so much for sharing such an intimate piece of yourself, and I'm so sorry for your loss. I empathize with you.

mshatch said...

Oh, Liza, I am so very sorry. My heart is breaking for you.

And I know exactly what you mean about obituaries not really telling the whole story. How to sum up a person in a paragraph? It's impossible. But you did very nicely here and it seems that he was very well loved by all who knew him which makes everyone very fortunate.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Oh, Liza, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your heartfelt words touched us, and you did a wonderful job describing what a special man he was. I truly ache for you and your daughter.

F. Stone said...

My sincere condolences for your loss. When my husband passed away three years ago, my whole world ended. Everything changed. And, I stopped writing. It's been that long for me to let go of the past and create something new. I can almost see him urging me to return to writing. It's time.
Blessings

Connie said...

Liza, I am so very sorry for your loss. This is beautifully written. It sounds as if your husband was a true treasure.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm so sorry, Liza. I can't imagine the loss and it sounds like a loss for many, many people.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

My heart goes out to you. It's those little things about a person that matters the most and sticks in our memories. While they can't come close to the sum of the person, they do reflect a portion of their true selves and our love for them.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Liza, I am so sorry about your dear husband. I teared up reading about all the wonderful things he did to make everyone feel special, and the fact that his nieces and nephews called him “Uncle Fun” is testament to how much everyone adored him. I remember how sad and frustrated you were when you weren’t allowed to visit your husband in the hospital, but it must have provided some comfort that you were home together during his final moments. Both your blog and obituary were beautifully written. I’m so sorry that you lost your loving husband so young, and my heart goes out to you and your daughter. Please take care of each other, and feel free to reach out if you ever want to talk.

Julie

Carol Kilgore said...

Liza, you've brought tears to my eyes with such a loving tribute to your husband and best friend. Cherish all those wonderful memories and make them a part of your new life. Hugs.

Fundy Blue said...

This brought tears to my eyes, Liza. I can't imagine what you are experiencing. I loved this post you wrote about your husband, and I read much of it to mine. How wonderful that you had such a special husband and father to your daughter. Please take care. Hugs to you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Dear Liza – oh I am sorry for you … but this is beautiful and a wonderful personal memory for us to read – I can really get a feel for you both. Obviously lots of memories and stories that will stay with you for ever … and I expect you’ll be writing more down in snippets for Meghann and family members.

Dear Liza – my thoughts to you … and thank you for sharing Tim with us … letting us into your family life a little. A delight to read, though through sadness at your loss.

With thoughts – the obituary read so well too – take care and be at peace as the days go by … Hilary

Diane Burton said...

Liza, what a wonderful man you shared your life with. My deepest sympathy on your loss. You captured the essence of the man in both your obituary and what you wrote here. Take time to grieve. Hugs.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Liza,

What a lovely tribute to your husband. I can actually see his face glowing with pride at how much you loved him and he you. A mischievous grin crossing his face like a child after their first cookie snatch. How wonderful for you to have such a love in your life. Very few can say that. Your memories are a treasure and you will keep them in your heart until you both meet again. His spirit is free now...free from the pains of cancer. Such a horrible disease...I have lost so many loved ones to it. Take care of yourself. It seems to me, your heart and mind are in sync. Keep you cherished memories and smile. I try as much as I can. Mother's day is tomorrow, and I haven't seem my Mom's face since 1998...but it is vivid in my mind. My new home reminds me so much of her. I feel her presence and joy especially when I turn on her crystal chandelier which is now hanging proudly in my formal dining room. My childhood home had a similar one and this same chandelier has now hung for over fifty years.... Sending you a virtual hug... take care.

Job Pedro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Oh, Liza, what tender moments you've captured here. The nutcrackers, the macaroni ornaments, the fairie surprises. What a thoughtful, fun-loving man, and what a beautiful marriage you had. I'm so terribly sorry for you. I know you don't want to write, but writing this is what writing what is important is all about, and you, as always, do that beautifully. Don't ever stop.

Steve Schaefer said...

Liza, Your love for Tim has always shone bright, as it certainly does with these beautiful words. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know my heart is with you. Feel free to reach out if there is anything I can do for you. All my best, Steve