Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tribute

Some twenty-3?ish years ago, Ted and I moved into the home we still are living in today.  It was quite a step up from  the little 3-bedroom stucco place in the south valley.  It was...ALL BRICK.  And in a much nicer neighborhood.  Even though the nearest grocery store was still more than five miles away, at least I didn't feel as if I needed to go armed.

We met all the neighbors, but immediately hit it off with one man who was married and had two younger kids.  His wife was a little different, but she seemed nice as well.  We had cookouts together and they were the kind of folks you could call on for a cup of sugar when you needed it.  Soon, it became apparent that all was not well and his wife left for parts unknown.  Leaving him with the kids.  More often, we all began to hang out together.  The kids would come and go at our house as if it were their own and Bill was pretty understanding when our Chow Chow "tasted" his little boy when he got too near her litter of new puppies.  We got a hot tub (this was pre-tricycle age for us) and sternly told Cody that the water would change to bright red if he ever peed in it.  Bill was quite a joker and he put the red light cover on one evening when Cody was bopping in and out.  Cody's eyes got about the size of softballs and he said, "Dad--Ted's going to KILL you for peeing in the hot tub!"  Fast forward a couple of years and enter stage right--Terri.  A beautiful and bouncy lady with two beautiful kids of her own.  Seldom do you meet a couple who are more in tune with each other--who are best friends and best lovers.  Soul mates sounds cliche', but they were.  Truly. They married in 1990, about two months before Tyler was born.  Ted was best man in their wedding.  I was unwieldy in  maternity tent formal wear.  It was a lovely wedding.

Blended families have their difficulties, but blend they did.  And always with a sense of humor and grace.  Bill and Ted, while having very diverse interests, hung out together when time and jobs and kids allowed.  They took quite a bit of ribbing about Bill and Ted's excellent adventures.

The house two doors up grew too small and their family moved to a larger house nearby and soon afterwards to Farmington, about two and a half hours away.  We had family there too, but didn't see them as often as we would have liked.  One of my fondest memories is a camping trip we made with them at Navajo Lake...their youngest was a senior in high school by then, and my kids just loved Uncle Bill and Aunt Terri.  That was the best and last time we spent any extended time with them.
I didn't think to be very concerned when we got the email from Terri letting folks know that Bill had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  We stayed in touch with email and cards, but didn't see them.  Then last November, we got a call.  Terri and Bill were coming "home" to stay at a premiere resort nearby to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.  Twenty years?  But...I'm only 30 still, right?  Bill's condition was rapidly deteriorating.  He wasn't able to leave their hotel room for the party, so the party went to him.  Seeing him in pain caused pain for us, but his laugh, his infectious grin and his sense of humor remained intact.  The stories he shared and the visit we had was precious and will always remain so in my memories.  And Terri.  Wow.  What a tower of strength.  And still a beauty.  Taking care of her lover, her best friend, her soul mate.  She spoke of experimental treatments and a mention of traveling to Houston to see one more doctor, seek one more treatment, was made.
A few weeks later the emails became less hopeful for a recovery here on earth, and spoke more of the hope we hold in Christ.  There would be no more aggressive treatments.  I urged Ted to try to get up to Farmington to see Bill.  Over Christmas, he just couldn't bring himself to go see him.  He had said his good byes in November.
Last Saturday we received the news we'd been dreading for ourselves, but longed for for Bill's sake. "Our dear Bill is free at last...free from the earthly shackles of pain and deterioration." 

Always, I'll remember him.  I'll remember him trying to teach me to two-step while I was about eight months pregnant.  Polishing belt buckles takes on a whole new meaning when one of the bellies has a large-ish baby/person inside of it.  I'll remember his grin and his chuckle and the twinkle that never seemed to leave his eye.  I'll remember him helping me with one baby, when I was AGAIN about eight months pregnant and getting our 2WD truck up the snowy hill in front of our house while Ted couldn't leave the airport for days on end.  I'll remember him loving my husband and my kids and me.  And loving us all so well.  I'll remember the wisdom he spoke and the love he had for his special lady.  I'll remember Terri in my prayers and ask that God give her a peace that can come only from Him.  And I'll remember how devoted Bill was to God.  For in all things we are created solely for His glory.  We should all live so well as did Bill.