“Without Her: 4 Months Later”

   

       October 14th marks the fourth month… and to quote Chris Stapleton,”My life has become a country song”  How fitting too, since I’ve been listening to country music for the past month. Yes, the chocolate colored man likes a little country too…

   The last two months, dear reader,has been filled with contacting agencies, changing contact information and putting nearly everything in my name. I’ve learned that we made some pretty good choices concerning the death of one another. Now, my concerns are what happens when I die. All of my beneficiary information has to be changed. All of my password information has to be in a place for my kids to find. What happens if I get sick?! I’ve been worried about who will take care of me. But it’s greater than that, I’m the only income… if I’m out of work, this damaged ship will sank. I have lost about 30lbs now. About 15 before my wife died and more afterwards. I ordered a full week’s worth work pants and jeans( I’ll get shirts eventually), so that I can stop walking into the office with my pants hanging off my backside. What’s worse is tightening the belt. I look like I’m wearing clown clothes…

    I’m a bit grateful for weight loss, lord knows I need to get and stay fit. The kids couldn’t take loosing both of us in the same year. Will the weight loss prevent that? No, not if you believe that God ordains life and death. But it does make this old car run a bit more smoothly. And less trips in the doctor’s office. Hopefully less, to, no more diabetic medication. Basically, it’s about the quality of life. God, will extend or shorten it, himself. 

     What else has happened in the last two months? Medical insurance! Sharol’s employer was quick to drop us…but, it took forever for it to register with the rest of the city. We both work for city government, so one agency couldn’t turn on the insurance without the other shutting off. An absolute pain! However, I can finish what I started two months ago…grief counseling. I’ve survived this far without it and don’t believe I need it. But, I will go and sit and talk. See how it goes from there.

  

October 9, 2016 Wyndham Skyline in Atlantic City, NJ

     We had a mommy and daddy  weekend getaway planned, we booked it back in April. I never cancelled it…So, the 13 year old said she wanted to go. So we went. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be…I kept the same schedule Sharol and I would have. Do nothing on day one! Sunday night we went out to dinner at Kelsey and Kim’s a soul food restaurant. We ordered takeout once and spotted the restaurant last summer, when we were there on vacation.

Waiting for dinner and listening to live jazz. October 9, 2016

Imagine that, at 13,you to get to experience live jazz in it’s natural environment, with great food and lots of people enjoying themselves with pleasant conversation. My daughter said it was “loud but a good loud. People are having fun” I couldn’t agree more. A couple of weeks ago I took her to her first Rock concert. We saw the Newsboys  at the PlayStation theater

Newsboys at the PlayStation theater September 24, 2016

    Although it was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend getaway, I still found myself tearing up from time to time. Once when I was talking about the kindness of my Co workers. And when I laid in bed by myself. Out of nowhere the tears and sudden sadness… it’s all good though. I feel, because I was loved and I loved. But, dear lord! I wish there was a warning shot!

View from the balcony. Watching the rain fall. October 8, 2016

     My youngest son is away at college…freshman, so missed out. But I hear he is adjusting well and having his own fun. Which is good. I wouldn’t want the needle of his life to get stuck playing the same thing over and over again. 

    My dear reader, though I am trying to put life back together and trying to sure up holes and deal with the missing piece. Yes, that includes having a little fun. I am beginning to feel a different stage in my grieving process…guilt!! Four months later and whatever scent was left on Sharol’s clothes are gone. I spray her perfume once in awhile before bed, just so I can remember . But the memories, like a vapor, are fading quickly. In walks the new feeling, guilt. Guilt that I can’t recall her voice, guilt that I can’t remember what her hair feels like on my face or in my hands or smells like. Guilt, that I went out to eat and it wasn’t with her. Guilt, like a returning soldier, that I lived and she didn’t. Guilt, that I’m doing better than I thought I would… guilty because.. 

    Wouldn’t a husband who loves his wife, mourn her death with sackcloth and ashes!?!!  Shouldn’t I be depressed and drinking my troubles away??? Oh sure you miss her, why aren’t rolling in floor!   One thought pressed me. Why didn’t fall apart when the Trade towers fell?… I don’t know. Maybe God understands that most of my life was spent fighting depression. Maybe, he thinks that, this is my “too much to bear” moment. Survivor’s guilt, SUCKS! I struggled with purchasing the clothes I needed. A constant second guessing of myself and everything I do. I haven’t been this way since before we were married. Oh, there were times during our marriage when I did but Sharol always said “Ty, don’t worry about it, you need it just get it”  depending on the situation, but the sentiment was always still the same.

Walk on the beach. Atlantic City, NJ August 2015

If we need it then get it…and yet, you still feel the guilt. There’s nothing anyone outside of you can do. I’m certain that what soldiers go through is far worse.

    The next time we meet, dear reader, I’ll let you know if the counselor had any answers. If they gave me any tools for coping with this new stage in life…my new normal.

Until next time…

“Trumped!”

The following are not my words. I found this on facebook and thought it was quite a different look at Mr Trump’s impact on the presidential campaign…enjoy OR not.
“Last night a friend claimed that Donald Trump wouldn’t make a good president; he is brash, he is racist, he is a loudmouth; you know the normal things people learn to recite after being programmed by television news. The one I loved was that, “Trump is arrogant.” My friend questioned if one man could make “that much difference in the world today.” To my friend’s credit, she was respectful enough to let me respond when she asked, “Really, what has Trump done?”

I said, “In June of last year, Trump entered the race for president. In just a little over a year, Trump has single handedly defeated the Republican party. He did so thoroughly. In fact, he did so in such a resounding way that the Republican Party now suffers from an identity crisis. He literally dismantled the party. Trump even dismantled and dismissed the brand and value of the Bush family.

Trump has Obama petrified that Trump will dismiss programs that weren’t properly installed using proper law.

Trump has single handedly debunked and disemboweled any value of news media as we knew it—news now suffering from an all-time level of distrust and disrespect.

Trump has leaders from all over the world talking about him, whether good or bad. Trust me, powerful men who have been president before weren’t liked by the global community. I doubt Mikhail Gorbachev liked Reagan when Reagan said, “Tear down that wall.”

Trump has expressly disclosed the fraud perpetrated on the American public by Hillary Clinton. He has, quite literally, brought Hillary to her knees—if you believe that nervous tension and disorders offer physical side effects and damage.

Trump has unified the silent majority in a way that should be patently frightening to “liberals.”

As the press accuses Trump of being a house of cards, Trump has proven the press is the real house of cards. He has whipped up the entire establishment into pure panic. Trump has exposed them for who they are and worse, what they are. George Clooney was right when he said Trump draws live news coverage of his podium that he’s not yet approached. Thanks, George, you were perfectly correct.

What we see as headline news today are actually the last bubbles from the ship that is now sunk—meaning the standard news media, as a propaganda machine, has been exposed. They have no more value.

In the same way Trump asked the African-American community this question, I asked my friend, ”At this point, what do you have to lose?” We have mass cop shootings, riots in our streets, ambushed cops, double digit inflation, bombs blowing up in our cities, targeted police, #BLM, a skyrocketing jobless rate, no economic growth, privately owned land being seized by the federal government, the worst racial tension in my lifetime, no God in schools, more abortions than ever, illegal aliens pouring into our country, sick veterans receiving no care, and a debt that doubled in seven years to $19 trillion. Are you really happy with the condition of the current system?

One man has done all of this in one year—one guy, and on his own dime. And with everything I’ve written above, you believe Trump hasn’t done anything? You claim that you are afraid of Donald Trump? No wonder we’re in trouble. You can say that Trump is a lousy presidential candidate. That’s your right. Just don’t ever say he’s not effective.

That Megan Kelly, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, Rachel Maddow, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, Raleigh’s News and Observer, the AP, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, and many more, failed to implement their collectively orchestrated lie on the American people against Trump, is actually a massive testament to Trump. The press colluded pure propaganda to accomplish his demise … and they have collectively failed and miserably.

Here’s just one example of how badly America is injured right now. There are high school football players on their knees during the national anthem simply because the press used as propaganda to program those kids to do that very thing. But, these kids are mimicking NFL stars the same way the same kids chooses which brand of football shoe to purchase—they’re overtly brain-washed to do that very thing.

Now, we have a generation of children who hate America.

America’s problem isn’t that little children are on their knee in collective disrespect of America. Our problem is that America is on her knee from collective disrespect by Americans.

You can disrespect America all you want. But, it’s high-time you respect the silent majority. Because they’re not simply the “silent majority” as you’ve been trained to believe when Hillary calls them “deplorables.” The fact is, they are simply the majority. And now they’re no longer silent either. Donald Trump changed all of that, single-handedly and within one year.” From Be Forbes.”

Bebe Coe Bertino

9/29/2016 , this is a copy and paste, and needs to be read and spread!!

“Widower”

IMAG0282_1_1 “Life’s journey has brought me to you and we shall continue together” the pendant says on the front.

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“Here’s to you, Here’s to me, Here’s to us. Semper Fidelis Love, Abby” She inscribed on the back..

Island-1

Father’s Day 2013 Governor’s Island. One of our kids took this picture of me and Sharol

Sharol always said that she was not the romantic one…as she would tell the listeners “Tyrone is the romantic one”  For the most part she was right. But Sharol had her moments. Like this Christmas gift she give me a few years ago. I’ve always wanted a pendant/dogtag or something… I’d given her a heart pendant a few years earlier it reads: “My Abigail when I’m too old to remember you, Remember that I love you. SS 4:1-15 Ty”  Song of Songs 4:1-15  Of course I hoped I would never forget her but the way my brain works some times I surely did wonder.

I was reminded of this as I watched a cute romantic movie with my 18 year old son and 13 year old daughter Sunday night (8/21/2016) after dinner. While we watched “Old Fashioned” I knew my son, the 18 year old, was wondering why on earth did I forced them to watch such a corny movie. My daughter on the other hand was engulfed in the film and like a 13 yr old, the chatterbox was dismayed when things were looking like it wasn’t going to go the way she wanted it to go. But it was good for him to see the film it will linger in the back of his mind and one day it will return. They’ve heard the stories of their mom and dad, how we disliked the American idea of dating and preferred courting instead.

     Dating as a typical american idea, just leads to a horde of broken hearts and dreams. It’s so bad now, that grammar school kids are claiming  “boyfriends and girlfriends”. Who am I kidding, they don’t even use those polite words to describe the “relationship”…. We’ve already seen what TV has done to the pre-teens, oops I means Tweens, in the past 15 – 20 years. So it was refreshing to see this movie depicting a college age kid living a wild life that lead to a major decision in his life. One that change his own ideas on how to treat a lady… 

20130616_155608     One day, when I was particularly lonely and sitting at my desk at work, I started looking up dating sites…Good lord! was it depressing! Not to mention there are a lot of freaks out there. I was seriously tempted to try speed dating.  Hey, why not? It’s within my wheel house, I get bored pretty easy as Sharol knew all to well. Instead of me spending a ton of money on someone I don’t know for 2 hours and probably won’t see again, I’d spend a little money and the date last for 10 minutes then off to the next woman. There you go! I swipe my metro-card  then ride the train home alone, maybe listen to some music, but I wouldn’t have to carry on a conversation that I knew wasn’t going to lead to anything. I also checked out rent a friend. Now this is fascinating, You sign up, for a small fee of course, then you get to rent someone for a date or a wedding, an evening at the movies or a play. Or simply because you have an extra ticket…Or lonely and just want to talk face to face. The renter, gets to choose from a wide range of ages and interest. The rentee, list lots of things that one might want to do…Like, ride bikes, see a play etc. But! they also list other things that might be appealing (or appalling) Like… one woman said the usual things…then added…she was into gay men, straight men and women! Uh..NOPE!… Next! I changed the age category, lord knows; me and a 25 year old ain’t gonna work. Please, I have daughters that age and I don’t think they’re looking for play-dates… anyway, I scrolled through the pictures. I don’t think they realize that someone would actually be looking at the photos and picking them for a rent-able night out. Go grief! have you seen those really bad, dare I say, ghetto “selfies” people have up on LinkedIn?!? It’s like, folks; you are trying to get the job, right? Yeah… well, some the photos were worse then the jobless people on LinkedIn.

20130608_165308_26753   Tattoos everywhere, names like Cinnamon...and yes, one spelled with an “S!” would you believe…Tree!?  These are not the names of 21 year old girls but 40+ year old full grown women! I closed the page then thumbed through my phone’s photo gallery…

20130616_142048 I leaned back in my chair frustrated and stared at pictures of Sharol and watched videos that I have of her…

20130616_143220Dag gone it, why did you leave me! I thought. There’s no one to sit across the table anymore…who am I going to kiss? will I even kiss another women? Dude, this really sucks!!! and even the women our age, are loony birds!… 

20130616_143214       Widower.  The reality hit me, the New normal. What now…? What do I do with my life? My life was built to journey through it with my bride… I have spent 19 years in a constant routine. After work, meals together; I’d wait for Sharol to eat my food. Fridays, it was coffee,pastry and Blue Bloods. Then popcorn with a movie, then Chinese food. Later as the kids left and our youngest; Hannah, spent time with her friends it to turned into, Wine time! our feet up, a movie on and 2 glasses of wine…and one really good night’s rest. Saturdays, we tried to sleep late, but that didn’t work for two early risers. Sunday, church then time alone before dinner. Mondays were marriage building nights. Sometimes we talked, take a walk, sometimes we read a book together, sometimes we augured, sometime we played a game or did nothing…unless, there was a TV show like The Following on. Tuesday nights, were prayer meeting night…or I’d watched Sharol sleep and snore… Once a month on Mondays, was DateNight. It was the only day she didn’t have to work late, until she did then we moved it back to Saturdays then back again. Because of busy schedules and allowing our lives to become hectic we did what many couples do…schedule time to love(nothing more needs to be said).  So, as you can see, dear reader; that empty space in my life where my wife use to occupy, is really a massive void! A vacuum! I have been living a joined life then all of a sudden, a tectonic shift! It’s not just an empty bed, no more kisses and hugs, no one to talk to, no more dates, no one to appreciate  my cooking, it’s ALL of that and more. An earthquake changes everything…the landscape, the ocean level, the geography, etc.

So before you question my sanity as to why I would be looking at dating sites, think about the many routines in my life that have been yanked from under my feet and tossed to the other side of the world.

Surf & Turf

Coney Island July 30, 2014

I haven’t thought about remarrying, I mean really, it would be the 3rd time…I’m honestly thinking my luck really sucks.  I haven’t had casual sex in nearly 30 years. I’ve been a husband twice…It’s highly doubtful I can change and go back to living that kind of life. but… a 3rd time? At this point I just want to have an adult conversation with someone who understands. Understands the music, political and TV references. Understands, that when a Prince song comes on, everything stops! and we must sing it together. Oh, dear reader, there is so much more…

Recently I wrote about going without my wedding rings on…well, a couple a times a week. Now, I go the whole work week then (psst don’t tell anybody) I put them on at night to sleep. Weird right? Nope, not at all. I found this woman’s article today while riding home  on the train . It appears there is no right or wrong way to greive/move forward. It’s all about what you are comfortable with. I choose to wear Sharol’s rings and for the moment put mine’s on at home. I guess it makes me feel close to her, just last week I started sleeping with 2 pillows behind me so that there’s something there when I turn. Which is where my wife would be all the time. Tuesday night I tripped over Sharol’s sandal, why your shoes always in the way?!  I thought then I laughed. It’s what I’d usually say followed by something like this ‘You trying to kill me? I’m too old to be falling”. 

Last month in one of my blue periods I was looking up something, I can’t remember what, but I stumbled onto this Marvin Sapp talking about embracing his singleness. The freedom to do his ministry with nothing between him and God. And bringing someone into his chaotic world. That person would have to fit in it comfortably. I started thinking about my own ministry, my writing. He’s absolutely right!  Paul said he wished everybody could be single BUT if you couldn’t, get married. it was better to do that than burn with passion… and here’s the rub, a husband’s first love is Christ but he will always be divided. Because he must care for his…wait for it…Wife. Yep, I get Marvin Sapp’s idea about freedom. Though I must admit, I ain’t exactly “embracing singleness”….but the ministry focus part, without hindrance. Yeah, I could see me spending a little focus time on my craft.

Sharol may not have always been the romantic part of this duel. One thing is for sure, she’s gonna be one heck of a tough act to follow.    Until next time…

 

“With Her: 19 Years, A Great Run”

Father’s Day on Governor’s Island 2013 or 2014

Today August 8th, is our 19th wedding anniversary…

     Last time, my dear reader, I told you about the anger that I was feeling. This time… I’m overjoyed with the blessing given to me, of 19 years of marriage. Sure I feel a bit cheated out of not being in Greece or New Orleans next year for our 20th Anniversary. But! God was gracious enough to give me 19 years and 2 kids in our older years. 

Vacation in Lancaster PA. Outside the Sight and Sound theater. Judah, Sharol, Me and Hannah.

19! Go ahead, say it. Today, generations and scores of couples are fine living together. Many are opting out of marriage all together, calling it out dated and unnecessary. Even an affront to womanhood and the advancement of women’s Lib. Well…Sharol, as did I, viewed it as an honor, a privilege…a gift from God, that we had someone to walk through life with. Someone committed to Christ and the relationship enough to want to care for and make the other better. That, my dear reader, means you daily put to death selfishness and think of the other’s needs before your own. If you have trust, in that relationship, then you will find that you never have to worry that your spouse is taking advantage of you. Because you both are doing the same thing…putting the other first. It also put a smile on her face when she was called “Mrs.Bland..” “Mrs.Bland? Your husband is….”  one of my favorites “Mr. and Mrs.Bland..?”  To hear it made it official  we were a team, a married couple; we belong to an exclusive Club. We were partners…for a lifetime! Another favorite of mines was “Um…excuse me, where’s my husband?”  Or “My husband will be here in a moment”  it meant I had someone who loved me. Someone proud to be fastened to my hip. Someone willing to watch my hair turn grey then white. Someone who would nurse my cut and bleeding foot, without flinching even though she was afraid watching the blood pour. Someone who would bring the bathroom  to me because I was bedridden. Someone who would say “Ty…why is there blood in there..?”  Both of knowing full well that blood coming from your body where there hasn’t been a cut, means something is wrong.

And likewise, she could confidently walk in this relationship knowing that, I had no problem picking up her feminine products. Bathing her when she was ill or in pain. Like her personal doctor, I would examine her when she had concerns about things but wasn’t able to see the issues…I was her eyes and hands. We once heard a story from a pastor. He was talking about a relative who swallowed a bone and the man’s wife went above and beyond to search for that bone. While we may have said that, that was yucky, we knew that was love and devotion. As we were getting older and got older we found ourselves in some of those very same situations. Caring for someone like that… it’s beyond intimacy and you would have to have more than a strong stomach ; it has to be love, the love of and for Christ. It had been the key to our caring for one another in such a way. Not looking for anything in return but loving that person enough to care for them, I mean really care for them; even if they could never speak again and lay motionless in the bed. That’s the kind of love and devotion we had for one another. Even our kids don’t know half the things we did, in caring for the other. There have been so many nights when I stop breathing in my sleep or choked and Sharol was startled from her sleep. Yet she’d watched over me until I was alright. I too, would get up when her stomach was bothering her and she suddenly disappeared from the bed or needed me to pray.We spent a lot of nights rubbing each other down in Tiger Balm…. So yes, she wore Mrs.Bland  with honor and distinction. And was very honored to be my wife (she said so herself). I even gave her a Purple Heart once, because like many soldiers, she endured a great deal in life… sexual assault, ridicule for being smart, the ups and downs of marriage, parenting and Christian life. So, though she was a living warrior, I wanted to do something to let her know that I loved and appreciated her.

Valentine’s Day, weekend getaway with Sharol, Judah and Hannah. February 14, 2015

She was so happy and proud when I gave her that charm. She was also extremely broken hearted when it broke off a bracelet and she lost it. Luckily, I found the company and bought her a new not too long before her surgery. It’s sitting in her drawer now, because she wanted to have the piece welded to her bracelet so it wouldn’t fall off again. Further proof  that, that tiny little trinket meant  a lot to her. But it wasn’t really all about the gift but about the gesture…

The Bride. My rib. August 8, 1997

Daily beloved we are gathered here today… Tyrone and Sharol

It was a hot and sweaty August night in 1997. I spent the morning preparing the apartment. I bought a new bed(hadn’t slept in one since a previous failed relationship) laid it down and spread rose petals all over it. Then lined the hallway leading to the bedroom with the remaining flower petals. Then, I was in the care of my Best Man and his son. We later made our way to the church. Which was filled with choir members, a few friends, my immediate family members and Sharol’s dad. Most of her family opting out of attending.

I waited for what seem like 5 hours for Sharol to arrive…she was late. My nerves were shot! She’s not coming   I thought.  My confidence and trust was lacking after I failed the first time at marriage and the disagreement we had a few days before the wedding didn’t help me at that moment. My active imagination was doing somersaults… she changed her mind. I went on.  The tuxedo felt like an oven. I nervously shifted my weight, my heart was sinking…

“Sharol place your left hand in his, Tyrone repeat after me…”

Then the music started to play, the kids came down the aisle…the flowers sprinkled and the ring arrived on a pillow… my heart galloped.

My best man praying for God’s blessing on us and our household.

Then, she appeared! Music started and the guest were confused. They were waiting for the standard here comes the comes the bride song.  But chose “Praise You”  by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  

There she was! My rib! Coming down the aisle to take her place by my side. I met her and walked her up to the altar. The pastor said something, “blah blah blah”… I have no clue what was said. We have evidence to support that, a recording…where we both, as we listened, repeated all sorts incorrect words. We were prayed for and announced to the world for the first time, ever! as “Mr. and Mrs. Bland”.  By the way, I was praying too, I had asked God to use us as missionaries…to use our family to reach the world for Christ…

2007 our first Spirit of New York cruise

The result of that day was a wild ride. Four out the six kids went on missions trip, two to foreign countries. I served as a summer missionary to adults and children with special needs. Sharol and I for those 3 summers counselled young adults and ran prayer meetings in our summer home for them. What came out of that day was, a plunge into extreme poverty and a rise out of it. Combative and rebellious teens turn into self sufficient young adults. Two formed a band and lent their talents to others, to speak to their generation. What came out of that day, was three grandchildren. What came out of that day, were two children born in our older years. Sharol said her “Jesus babies” meaning they came after we were Christians…

Thanksgiving 2007

Thanksgiving 2007 photos by Imani

In the past or last 7 years or so, we decided to focus our attention on the last two kids. Because we a lot older, I’m 40 older than the last child. We wanted them to have the benefits the first 4 had. The problem was, life changed. There was now two full-time working parents. I was in college from 2006-20012,then returned to the work world. But we pushed to spend time with them as well as spend more with each other.

In Jamaica. Our first trip out of the country. Beaches Resort 2010

As a couple, we also wanted to do things we’ve never done before together or as single people. Anything, but skydiving!

Breakfast with Sesame Street. Jamaica 2010

On the beach. Yes, we were standing in the water. Jamaica 2010

Private dinner on the beach. Our 13th wedding anniversary. Jamaica 2010

In 2010, after my undergrad graduation we had the chance to use our passports for the first time. Unfortunately, it was the only time. My youngest has been bugging for the past two weeks to go the London. Jamaica, dear reader, was more than a trip. It was an adventure!! I hate flying, but my fearless partner was with me. And held my hand tight. I couldn’t sleep or relax. Then….even with the promise of all that. The trip was plagued with issues. First we missed our flight, not our fault. The airport had some construction going on and the gate was waaaaaaaay on the other side. We got to gate and was directed to somewhere else… it’s a 5 hour flight to Jamaica…it took us…well, let’s see. From NY to PA 1 hour, laaaaaaaaaayover until about 11pm! Then flew to South Carolina…where we spent the night! Then boarded a plane to Jamaica.  We arrived to a sea of brown people. I’ve never seen that many black folks in one place in my life. We passed through customs without a problem. Went for our bags…they weren’t there! Noooooooooooo. Yep.

Private dinner on the beach

Sharol with Hannah after her morning water aerobic class. Jamaica 2010

It was hot, humid and we were tired. The agents assured us the bags would turn up. They did, later that day. Sooooooooo we hopped into a van and headed towards the resort. We got there, 2 hours later!!!

Preparing for our anniversary dinner. Photo by Hannah.

But! The week’s stay was well worth the trouble.

Spirit of New York boat ride. 2007

Celebrating love. Spirit of New York cruise. 2010

13 years of marriage, looks good!

In 2013 we went to Virginia Beach, Va. For a College tour with Judah. We’d hoped he could get into Regent University. While we were there we visited CBN, Regent University and The 700 Club.  We  also went to Busch Gardens and Virginia Beach.

The 700 Club. 2013

The Aquarium in Virginia. I had the camera, Sharol the video camera. The fish were swimming above our heads. 2013

Sharol “Dancing it out” with the local Regent University & YouTube celebrity Nathan Stump. Nathan often ended his videos with a silly dance. We saw him in the cafeteria this is the end result.

Wyndham Governors Green Resort Virginia 2013 on our way to play mini golf

19 years is a long time but it wasn’t long enough with my wife. We continued to do things we hadn’t, like go dancing. I know it’s unheard of for Christians but  we were grown adults who had never known each other when we were young and hadn’t had the opportunity to dance together. Nope, I ain’t justifying a thing! We had good clean, fun dancing with one another, for 6hrs! Celebrating life!

Crazy faces, before I beat them! Wyndham Governors green 2013

Resting our feet in the hallway of BB Kings on 42nd Street. At the Rhythm Revue dance party summer of 2015

What made things work so well for us, is we thought of our marriage as a partnership. No one goes into business with someone calling them their partner to lose money. You partner with someone because you see their skill and their strength and you know together you can meet the challenges and be successful at whatever your endeavor is. She was also my sister in Christ and I her brother.    We protected each other. She was my lover, enough said. She was my friend, my business and writing partner

Working on on a autobiography. 2015

My bride, my wife, my girl…my…

I’ve been spoiled for the past 19 years, I’ve only dated one woman in all those years. I remained faithful to her and she to me.

“This, man!” She yelled, because I kept taking pictures of her. Busch Gardens 2013

Sharol was not only the matriarch of the family. But she was also the standard-bearer, where could I find such a woman today..? Intelligent, funny, easy to look at, prayer warrior, confidence Builder and the list goes on and on.

Dear, reader, I know this was very long. I have much more to say, but understand my point of the title, 19 years. You can’t possibly explain or tell that story in two paragraph.

Beaches Resort 2010 Jamaica

On June 14,2016 I lost one of the greatest gifts God has given to me and from this brief tale that I’ve told, you can see why, that on my anniversary, I’m not sitting around depressed or writing a suicide note. But I am grateful for the time I had with my wife. Now, maybe when I approach the 20th anniversary next year, God willing I’m alive. Maybe I’ll feel different I don’t know but today I’m so filled with joy because I was loved and I had the opportunity to love. that, is, awesome! Listen, take care of yourself. Enjoy the love of your life, build those memories…

Until next time….

 

“Without Her: Anger”

January 2014

I have stacks and stacks of papers and letters on my bed, desk, chair and ottoman. I now nap (I don’t really sleep) with half my bed covered in bills, letter…and newspapers. Well, the newspapers I’d fully intended on reading. But in the beginning I didn’t want to read the news. Now I don’t have time to because of the constant shifting through letters and threatening bills…

Looking at her phone of course.

The other day as I sat with a letter in my hand, a thought hit me what else am I missing. One of those letters was a bill for the three cell phone lines I’m still paying for. But I said I wouldn’t turn off my wife’s (Sharol) until I had contacted everyone and changed all the billing information into my name. So I unlocked her email to check for a bill that might have been a online/direct payment. I found two…and much more. As read a few saved emails I was instantly transported back in time and became very angry. What did I find? A few old angry emails from past arguments!! I remembered them well too. I could hear Sharol’s voice, see that annoyed look in her eyes, I could hear her yelling above me, I could smell the air of that day, I could feel my heart rate raising, my glucose level as well. I remembered the look I gave her, the thoughts I was thinking about her, how I hated her in that moment… I couldn’t believe I kissed that foul disrespectful mouth! I could feel the taxing drain of hours of combat. The dry mouth and hurting feet from standing. What was it about this time…? The kids? Something I said? Something she said? Something we did? Does it really matter?! Why keep such things! And when you die, leave it behind to be read!…

I remembered one day so clearly… we were fine, in fact it was a good year for us. But something happened, we argued, didn’t talk to each other. I believe I threatened to leave. Sharol didn’t care. I was furious, I had enough of the kids, married life and arguing. I packed a bag and walked out. I found a cheap motel up by Co-Op  City in the Bronx. I’d taken my cell phone just in case she decided she loved me enough to call.  I bumped into our oldest son on the train, he was clueless. So, I handed the guy my ID and credit card. He gave me a key…I walked in the room, turned on the TV and checked my phone…no call! As the night progressed I became more and more uncomfortable be in the motel and not at home. But I crossed a threshold, I did something I’ve never done before. I can’t turn back, I left, like many of men before me…but why didn’t I feel good about it?! I went to the bathroom…stared at the TV, then suddenly dread fell on me. What if I die here? What would the headline say? What about the kids?…but if Sharol cared she’d call…  

2014 weekend getaway. Sharol liked picture.

My phone didn’t have reception…

After a sleepless and restless night I swiftly left the motel. It hit me that I had to drop the kids off to school. I didn’t know how Sharol would feel, would she answer the phone? etc. I called and said I would be there…Sharol told the kids, one of them ask where I was, that I was probably at store and would be there soon…

After the kids were gone I walked into the bedroom. No words said…we set on the edge of bed beside each other. Then she started crying, I did too…we talked about where I’d been, my horrible night and how she couldn’t sleep. We apologized to each other. Then Sharol did a strange thing. Strange because there are many “strong woman” that don’t or at least act like they don’t, need or want men in their lives. She asked me with tears streaming, not to do that again, not to leave her. I didn’t. She told me, but I could truly feel it at that moment..”I love you”

About a month or so later Sharol heard this word in church Akrogoniaios “Jesus the Cornerstone”  after the service she told me the Lord spoke to her heart. And said she was with me to help me become the man God wanted me to be. Of course I was skeptical, we’d just had major marriage crisis. But there was a paradigm shift in our relationship from that time forward. Mostly because our dependency was focused on Christ.

I have been wearing a wedding ring for 19 years, there have been times when I took it off because I didn’t want to be reminded that I was married. A few days a week I’ve gone without it (feels very odd), because eventually, now that I’m a widower, they (She gave me one an anniversary gift, I wear both) will come off. The first day I went without it, I was reminded of a horrible day. Words were said, she and I were mad…Sharol through her rings, it went out the window! Apparently,I followed with you don’t deserve to have/where them!(I didn’t remember saying that,until she mentioned it about a year ago) Later that day Sharol searched the grass and street like the woman in the Bible looking for her lost coin. She vowed never to take them off again. She didn’t. My words cut her deeply…and taking off my ring now, has been incredibly hard. Not to mention the guilt and sadness over how simple minded I had been in the past.

My dear reader, I don’t know why we humans keep such heartbreaking things. The Bible does say that Love doesn’t keep a record of right and wrong. I can see why. Things like our angry word emails can last a long time. So can the effects of them. The day I read said emails, about a week ago, I spent the entire morning bitterly crying over the loss of my Abby. I didn’t go into work because I didn’t have the mental or physical strength to get up. Then came the reading of the emails, the anger, the rage and the questioning of Sharol’s love for me. A hellish pit a woe!!…

A few days later I was reminded of Lots’s wife who was warned to flee and “not look back”, she did. She died. She turned into a “pillar of salt”. This is what happens to many of us, we get stuck in a horrible loop of grief. Unable to move forward, backwards or any direction. And our love ones suffer for it too. Some of us need help dealing with our loss. My boss/friend suggested that I go to a grief counseling service for city workers. Her assessment of me was, I haven’t had a proper time to grieve because of all the things I’ve been taking care of. I chose to make the appointment. You know, not too long ago I was talking to my sister. She was telling me story about being around a group of mostly young people. They were talking about marriage, the usual  whining and complaining. Someone posed the question “What’s the absolute worst part of marriage?”  My sister said “One of you will have to die”  She is absolutely right!!  That’s why I’ve always hated standing around a group of guys whining about their wives and it never failed, someone would turn to me and say “You know how they are,right?  My response was always the same “No I don’t, I actually love my wife”  You could usually hear a leaf drop after that…  

2015 summer vacation in Atlantic City. Picture taken at the aquarium

  I also chose to remember something very important…Sharol told me she loved me! And I have proof of that love. And it’s not in some old, out dated angry letter!! It was said to me daily and most recently in a Love letter. 

A letter from Sharol written May 20, 2016 I didn’t find it until a week after her death.

2014 Father’s Day

these are the things, dear reader, that we need and should hold on to. Be careful not to step in to the trap/pit that I did. Yeah I know, some of you have already done it…well, learn from my mistake. Don’t look back into the past, it could paralyze you. Rendering you powerless and incapable of healing and moving on.

Until next time…


“Continuum”

I am both alive and dead…moving through life with a purpose as well as lost. I am married and I am a widower. My life is balanced yet I am off balance….

 Friday was payday, so it was time to pay the bills. I have been doing so alone for the past month now. Usually I’d work out my check and Sharol, my wife; would do hers and I’d text her what was being paid or put away on my end. We would come together and agree who got what. But I worked until 9pm that day and then worked on Saturday.

Saturday, after getting off work I instinctively walked into the wine shop to find something new that caught our eye or an old favorite, like the Chocolate Shop’s 

Chocolate Lover’s wine” one of my wife’s instant favorites. Someone recommended it to us. It took about 8 months before I bought it though. And it freaked me out!! How is it possible, for wine to taste like chocolate. We swirled our glasses around then sniffed. Sharol’s eyes lit up! My entire body dance with delight! Then we sipped… oh, snap! It taste like chocolate candy…or even chocolate cake. I sipped again in disbelief. Then remarked again about the taste. After the first glass we started the movie, I poured our second as final glasses…still surprised at the taste. And teased all night by Sharol. Of course, the next time she asked if I was getting the Chocolate lover’s wine. Lol, silly woman.

Anyway, this had been our ritual for about the past year and a half. It started with her shopping for something for our anniversary…she stopped in a wine shop, tasted a few selections, chose two and surprised me in our hotel room on the Jersey Shore. An Italian Moscato

 and Cabernet 

The acidity of the Moscato bothered her stomach(she didn’t drink soda either) the Cab was, and still is my favorite. 

   So, I walked into the store. I know Sharol won’t be at the other end of the phone call or at home. But this felt familiar, natural and real. I grabbed the bottle off the shelf and thought it’s been a while, Sharol really likes this one.  Then I moved to the Port wines…I chose something from NY State. From Brotherhood Winery

 *side note: after watching Downton Abbey I got interested in what Ports and Sherry were. I went to the counter…paid and went home. All the while excited about sharing the new one with Sharol, at the same time, extremely sad that she wouldn’t be sitting next to me, holding my hand and sipping with me. When I got home there was no dinner cooked. Since I didn’t, the kids didn’t either. I was instantly angry, if my wife was here she would have made dinner. But she’s not! Two of daughters came in from seeing a movie. I’d just finished dinner at nearly 8 pm…put in the movie…and then…nothing! The joy of our weekly ritual was over. Yet at it continued. It was still present but it was missing my wife, the joy, the giggles and laughter, the annoyance of her trying to figure out the murder before the movie even starting, it was missing her arm on my side of the arm rest and me looking in her eyes or staring at her beautiful grey hair and her saying “I love you..” followed by a kiss or caress of my beard. It wasn’t real anymore. But it’s all I know to do… 19 years is a long time.

Before her, dear reader, I was a single parent and I hated being single and alone. I was alone for 3 years. Before that in a relationship that lasted just under 3 years, before that…nothing. I never had a girlfriend throughout my school years, never walked a girl home from school or carried her bag. All of my girlfriends were from the group I hung out with and I was always a one woman/girl kinda guy. So, my wife had my full attention and my whole heart. I am eternally in love with her, at the same time “death” has “do us part..” I sense her answers to me when I’m thinking of something I would normally ask her about. It’s a habit, because of our intimate relationship for so long. I’ll hear her voice in my mind. But…I can’t feel the heat from her breath in my ear. Life and doing what we would normally do everyday or week has become less enjoyable. The emptiness is thicker than mud. But if I don’t do what we’ve done or what comes naturally to me then I have nothing. No life at all. No wife…and no social life. That’s an expanse of emptiness I wouldn’t wish on my enemy. I am in love with someone who is incapable of returning that love. It’s a really weird place to be. Like, things are the same yet they are vastly different. I don’t know how this story ends for me…but not laughing in the presence of a lady, is a horrible ending.

I haven’t been on the ocean in nearly two years. We were looking forward to it at the end of the summer, when she’d be up to the walk and before our weekend getaway in October. So, I went with my kids this weekend…

it was awesome being on the water again! It was all so familiar, the dizziness, I have slight vertigo and sometimes it leads to a panic attack, Sharol knew this. After many years she knew what signs to look for. We’d hold hands till I got my sea legs  then off to the front of the boat! Hugging, taking pictures etc. Always an enjoyable time. Neither of us could swim but if I believed in reincarnation, I’d swear I was a Seaman. Hmm…maybe a navy captain. Everything was fine until I turned to talk to her…dag,why did you leave me Sharol?  I thought. I looked over at my kids, they were in their own world. Again, it was almost the same…but my rib  wasn’t there with me to make it as enjoyable as it once was… 

   So, dear reader, I’m stuck with a question. Is it going to be like this forever? Cause this sucks! Of course, I have no alternative but to live life. And to help my children, Young and old, live life. It’s just that life looks so weird now…

    As a person, a private citizen, I am a very private person. I speak little unless I know you.  But as a writer, a public person, I have to sometimes lay myself bare, naked, to be seen and ridiculed by the masses. So, these past few writing’s have very personal in nature. Why? Because I am both a private citizen and a public figure. And one of you reading this, needs to hear it and feel it and find a way to heal from it. Me too. I don’t know who that person is but we are in the same weird position. For me it’s been 34 days, for some of you it’s been years since your husband/wife or lover as died. Some are grieving over there parents and siblings…

    I’m no expert. But grieving is normal. Some find help in groups and therapy, I’m a writer, though I haven’t gone back to working on my book; I find as many have told me, that writing helps. Grieve, but don’t get stuck in that deep dark hole. That’s not, good grief…

Feel free to leave comments and let me know how you’re dealing with it.   Until next time…

“Holding hands”

Video

28 days ago my life and my world changed. It’s another Tuesday…I’m wearing my usual Tuesday work clothes, bright orange and blue plaid shirt with a burnt orange sweater,(AC in the office) tan pants and brown shoes. It’s what I was wearing on Tuesday June 14th…I came home and changed shortly before Sharol went to walk/exercise…

The other day one of our neighbors caught me in the elevator, she was with her husband. She asked how I was doing and expressed once again how heart broken she was that my wife died. “You guys were always together..” she remarked, when I said I was much better but was still having trouble sleeping. “If you need anything…” she continued. “I loved your wife”…

She’s absolutely right, we were always found together. Most times, arm around arm or holding hands. We never gave it much thought…but holding hands is beyond “old fashion” it’s ancient! Very few couples do it today, especially the younger ones, much less do it for 19 years strong. Even when we were mad we’d walk close to each other…then eventually grab each others hand.

Nineteen years ago Sharol invited me to her swearing in ceremony, she’d just become a fresh face NY lawyer. I didn’t go with her, we were courting at the time, I had taken the kids to school first. When I walked into, what is now “The National Museum of the American Indian” I was swallowed up by the vastness of the space. It was wall to wall attorneys all waiting to be sworn in. The noise from all the talking was so loud I could barely hear my own thoughts. A sea of mostly white males, all in suits. The ladies were wearing business dresses. Above the noise was a whisper, in a soft deep alto voice…”Ty…” I looked in the direction of the voice, but I didn’t see anything. Then “Ty…over here..” a pond of suits moved slightly.

Out of the corner, seated in an arm chair was Sharol. But all I could see was a pair of thick round calf’s sticking out from between a group of lawyers. Her feet shifted and her skirt rose above her knee as she leaned forward to see me. She was in a brown skirt suit…and looked good to!! I couldn’t help but stared at those gams “Ty…” she said and our eyes connected. Of course I had a goofy look on my face. Who wouldn’t?! We kissed then soon moved to “The Room”I have no clue now what was said, I did feel a bit lonely when she went in. The crowd closed in on her and separated us.

When it was all done we pushed through the heavy crowd to get to one another. She had a big smile on her face. We said something, I don’t remember what it was, all I have is the image of us looking into each others eyes… I know we hugged! But what can’t forget and have never forgotten is the rush I got when she held my hand. My heart felt something it hadn’t and my body responded in kind. The smiles were fixed on our faces. We held hands out the building…down the street…on the train, to the place we ate at, on the train again and ALL the way to St. Jerome school where she walked with me to pick up the kids. We were holding hands when they came out the door…

This Memory is implanted in my mind forever…why? Because of the incredible, painful cramp I had from holding hands, for hours!! We continued to hold hands and walk down the streets of NY, New Orleans, Rhode Island, Lancaster PA, the beach in Jamaica, the camp in Putnam County, Maryland…and everywhere else we went. And to the marvel of others who would say “wow, you don’t see that often” or other things similar.

We’ve talked about that day a lot over the years. But it was just the beginning of something that left a lasting impression on the world around us. And I’m so glad that out of all the things our kids saw us doing together…cooking, arguing, dancing, laughing, kissing, sitting etc. They had the chance to see romance in action.

Until next time…

  

#OscarsSoWhite

Some days ago the Reverend Al Sharpton made the news again, for preaching a sermon on  the nonviolent, civil disobedient; boycott of the Academy awards…you know, The Oscars. Followed by This on Monday from Jada Pinkett Smith.  At first glance I gave it a thumps up and shared it with my wife as a I couldn’t agree more kind of a thing.

osow2 I later realized it was part of a celebrities against the Oscars thing. Spike Lee also voiced his criticism of the Academy Awards in  The Hollywood Reporter interview. Then came the  Huff post to tell us why we ALL should be upset that  #OscarsSoWhite. Well, if you haven’t already seen the list here is the 2016 Academy Awards nomination Oscar list  I did see a few movies on the list, but there were others I saw that were not on the Academy’s list. For instance Rogue Nation and Furious 7 are not there but then again that’s Action.  Also Insurgent and Creed didn’t make it but Mr. Holmes did, more on my reason why they didn’t get to Top movie list later. For now let’s continue with the white awards notion…

The other day the forth in line of our 20 something children, came to me complaining about the Oscars and about Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest film. Honestly I don’t remember what she said but I am seeing a pattern among the younger generations, that are very troubling. My 12 year old, soon to be 13 daughter; is attracted to the teen female action movies. Most of her books are the same way…they both have grown up in a world or maybe it’s just, a country so divided. Divided by age, complexion, ethnicity, sex/gender etc. Where as I did not, sure there where prejudices…but read books!  not Y, YA, Adult, New Adult fiction. We saw either a family movie, a musical or a movie. So, I benefited from seeing what mother saw. Today, movies are so divided that you and your child may never see the same movie…as you will go separately. So, my discussions usually go something like this: I did worry about being represented, I wasn’t concerned about The Bradys or The Waltons being white it was the family stories that were important. The stories transcended the color of their skins. Likewise, when Good Times came on  I’d  watch it…before Good Times, there was a huge TV event, a mini series called Roots. I remember mostly, because my dad bought us a color TV so we could see it in color. My mother didn’t make a big deal out of black people on TV but she would turn to something  if it had an actor of color she knew and was interested in. I can’t say I found a greater connection with TV shows or movies with people who like me in it. I grew up in the Projects in the north east Bronx, but our life and those around me didn’t look like the Evans from Good Times.  Those images, allowed me to focus on the story and to appreciate storytelling from other points of view.

Today, as an adult, I can and do watch Independent films, Foreign films with subtitle and so on. I do Not  limit myself to movies or television that only have people that look like ME . I find that very short sighted…How can one claim to love Cinema and not watch a film from another country or culture. Netflix sometimes shows a list of movies that are popular from around my zip code…and I almost always shake my head at the list. It’s nearly always a list of some gang movie, all black cast, martial arts or something to do with sex and drugs in the hood.  S0, what does this have to do with the Oscars? You ask. Well first look at the mindset of talking heads and their viewing audience. As viewers if my daughters don’t look outside of the Box they can be caught up the wind of the narrative, especially the older one. The mindset would be a pigeon hold one, like Netflix’s in your area list. Which reads like, there are people who will never understand anyone else because they only see/watch one thing. And like an eagle the Sharptons, Smiths and lees of the world swoop down and pick what little minds they have left, away..  John Singleton had a different prospective, read it here and this is a guy who came along during Lee’s career high point.  In those days people were just trying to get The Story told or seen in this case. Yes told through their lenses for sure, but getting it out there was the point. Even if you don’t get an award millions of people saw your work. As a writer and author I’m not too worry about awards or if my story becomes a movie, would I like that…? Absolutely! But what I really, really want is for people to read my story told from my view point. I’m a christian, many my perhaps question that and I say, I don’t care!  I write stories for a broader readership not just Christians. Will some stories have christian themes or characters, of course they will. But Christians come in all sorts of walks and cultures…  Again, the point is to be heard. Smith and Lee have made millions of dollars and their work lives, forever!   Smith says it’s time to stop begging because it diminishes the powerSharpton wants the force the Academy to not only “recognize” black, but forcibly make them put a “Black film” or “Black Actor” at the top of their list…Or else!  Talk about diminishing “Power” If forced, wouldn’t that make the choice invalid?  It wasn’t chosen by or on merit.  Which also brings up another issue of epic “Racist”proportions. How is it that they Only see “Black” and White”? Isn’t that by today’s vernacular, Racist?  What about the other ethnicities  they fail to see and protest over?  Like…Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American and a very long list of others. Even this young lady  Jessica Eggert  gets it, read what she points out. It’s so ridiculous, that the Academy has to defend itself read it yourself here.  Question…Why not boycott the Tony’s, Golden Globe or Emmys awards shows? I kinda know what you’re going to say…but since were are on the subject of Black. Have ever heard of a director named Antonio Fuqua? osow7 maybe not, but I bet you’ve seen at least one of his films, like Olympus Has Fallen look him up I’m sure you’ll like what you find. How about Luther? osow6 A detective played Idris Elba, neither probably received massive awards but it is a great TV show with an awesome actor and great action films by a brilliant director. And The Story got an opportunity to be told and millions saw it and the actors were paid well!  Listen to Elba in his own words  address “Diversity”. Perhaps, there should be less whining about skin color and more effort into getting the stories told…

Oh yeah, back to why I believe some of My movie favorites didn’t top the list. In all my many years of living, I’ve noticed the Academy’s Top picks have almost always been Dramas or Character driven pieces. Very few action movies make the top 5 and only recently have cartoons gotten close. So, I don’t look the awards show to validate  my choices of what I pay my money to watch. Nor do I look to them to dictate to me what is Good…or worthy enough, for me to see the day after the trophy is given. And neither should you, dear reader. You have a mind of your own…But, if you want my advice, expand your to mind to include films and actors from everywhere.    Until next time…