“Holding hands”

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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…

  

“With and Without Her”

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This year opened up with a devastating blow to our finances. In our 19 years of marriage we have gone through so much. I used to joke that we had double years…in others words and closer to what I would say, is, every one year was like two years. So, Sharol and I have been married for nearly 40 years. we look good after 40 years together don’t we,Lol. After leaving grad school I searched earnestly for a job. None came, so Sharol suggested and I agreed that after a year of surviving why not just write the book I wanted to write. From 2013 -2014 I worked on the book. I was getting nervous about being out of work for so long but Sharol encouraged me to continue. When I completed the book, the process to promote it begin…it was hard and did not do well. I’d given away many of them hoping folks would write a book review, I was wrong, so very wrong. The stress piled up on me. I enjoyed politics in grad school so I apply for a Senate Fellowship, after a 2 month wait I didn’t get the job. Four months into 2014 another job opened up, it was seasonal. I took it, it was better than nothing. It ended right after Thanksgiving. We were back where we started. While I was looking again I started working on an update of the book and added two new stories. Being a NYC teacher, Sharol had the summers off and usually typed and edited my work. That summer, of 2015, we were faced with another major scare in our marriage, we were staring at a hysterectomy right in the eye! Earlier in the year she was having massive pains and huge clots. Nothing help and naturally I feared losing my wife. After pain relievers didn’t work we went to the ER. I later found this

February 10, 2015

February 10, 2015 “Love Letter”

letter in the book of letters she was writing to me. Yes, I love reading letters and Sharol wanted to bless me. She was thanking me for being with her…like, really, where else would I be but my wife’s side. We spent the next few months monitoring her health and going to appointments for the possible hysterectomy that summer. Praise God, it wasn’t needed and I landed an assistant trainer position. I finished the book update and Sharol was done with the edit work, all I had to do was double check then publish. I did. We made it through the summer with minimal aging pains…except one. Both of our knees were hurting, Her’s had given out on her, mine felt like grinding glass. Sharol had gotten a shot in her knee, I didn’t, I had less stairs to climb…

Sunday in church. Three days before the knee surgery.

Sunday June 5,2016 In church, three days before the knee surgery.

The summer of 2015 ended, I was out of work. Sharol started her trek back to Brooklyn. The new lease came and Housing decided to “project” my summer pay as a yearly amount, added our daughter’s income and Sharol’s raise…BAM! The rent was way more than we could afford because of all the other bills we had. We all know they don’t care about that. I stopped working on the follow-up book and started looking for full-time work. Writing, was done. By November things had gotten worst and I didn’t know it because she didn’t tell me. She wanted to spare me the extra stress I was already feeling. And for the first time ever, in 19 years, we had a fall-out over money. Money! can you believe that? Not Us…never!. But it happened, it was so tense that between Thanksgiving and Christmas we hardly said a word to one another. After Christmas our eyes caught each other and we found it hard to be silent. The conversation started too, the love returned and we made up. The house was noisy again. But, this issue didn’t go away and we had a strange something between us…we’d NEVER fought over money. I later found out that my wife was carrying a huge weight on her shoulders. the credit cards weren’t paid, nor the rent, neither the tithes. She felt she couldn’t tell me…after a very heated talk, I reminded her that I am not a “millennial” our generation “doesn’t run scared of everything” I wasn’t mad at the bills not being paid. I was upset that she forgot, that we are Partners… It was finished! we tackled the problem. Now it was time act. I spoke to a friend who said he and his wife went through the same thing once and hurting finances can cripple a relationship. He fought to get me back at The Broad as we call it. I did.

May 7 My Birthday. She sing happy birthday to me.

May 7 My Birthday. She sing happy birthday to me.

We went after our debt with a vengeance. First stop, back rent and no unnecessary purchases until after the summer. But…Mother’s Day was coming and I wanted to go dancing with my lady….

Dancing was put on hold, Sharol’s knee got worse. A piece of bone chipped off and was now floating around. It cause her knee to lock, thankfully she never fell down the stairs. There were trips and appointments to discuss possible replacement surgery.

“Happy birthday Ty”

Since we didn’t have money to go away for a weekend alone, it had been 2 years since we had a weekend getaway; we decided to spend the weekend together around town. We were leaning towards the surgery. I wanted to do a dance cruise with Rhythm Revue. Last summer we had a awesome time dancing for hours! non stop! of course, we went home and took some Aleve afterwards. Unfortunately, I missed the window to get the tickets. So…. We went book shopping instead.

Sunday May 29, 2016

Sunday May 29, 2016

😊 Slept a little later, brewed a pot of Darjeeling tea, made us breakfast then we talked..and..talked..and talk.
Had a late lunch at a diner, then toBarnes & Noble) for New books.
Then top it off with camera foolery. Home for Catfish nuggets & salad.👍celebrating love.” -From my Facebook page. Oh yes, I followed her around the store and the street. Watching her walk and snapping picture. She was giddy ALL day. We were junior high school kids.

The date..

The surgery was set…I was scared, we’d been planning our 20th wedding anniversary and we were having a whirlwind affair..again! The “summer love” was awesome. We planned to see a family in Africa we’ve been supporting for years, then maybe a cruise or back to New Orleans. I’d hope to surprise Sharol with a chocolate diamond ring and a celebration bottle of Graham’s 20 year old Tawny port. I had no idea how I was going to get that ring…but after 20 years she deserve it! the $55-$60 port, that was easy. We had time for a lunch date before the surgery…

Monday June 6, 2016 our last date.

Monday June 6, 2016 our last date.

She stopped by my job and had lunch in Battery Park with me. Sadly this would our last date together.

Without Her…

Sharol had her knee replacement on June 8, 2016…she woke up and said “I came back to to you!” the tears were trying their best to fall from my eyes. But I fought them off “Okay, now can we get you come home” I replied. She came home Friday not Thursday as planned. I had her cheese cake I promised would be waiting for her “See, a man of my word” I said. “I know you are dear”. I stayed home from work an extra day. Got up early and washed her…yeah, we giggled. Then moved on with the day. Monday I went back to work and our daughter took over for me. On Tuesday the youngest girl helped while I was at work. I came home, made a slammin’ dinner and took my place beside my woman in my chair, we watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise, Sharol started looking at phone and I went to the room and played a game my phone. She text: “I’m going in the hall to walk” Tue,Jun,2016,8:47 PM I went out shortly after that, she was walking towards and I was joking about her knee being “straight now” She collapsed about 4 feet away from me…

Me watching her walk, filming her and taking pictures...

Me watching her walk, filming her and taking pictures…

Tuesday at 9:43 PM Sharol left me to be with the Lord. I spent a week and a half sleeping with the clothes she wore that night. Though it was very, very little sleep. The clothes were cut off her but I didn’t care, it had her scent on it. The smell of sweat and perfume…I clanged to her head scarf so that I could remember what her hair smelled like. I couldn’t pray, sleep, eat, think…nothing. The next morning, our youngest daughter came in my room as I was putting on my shoes, she wanted to go to school. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe either, something was wrong! She came around next to me and it felt like my heart had literally been tore from my chest. I reach out for the window and exploded into a wail. My daughter put her hand on me and I melted into a puddle of tears. I dropped her off at school…Got 30 feet away and darn near hit the ground. I was having trouble inhaling….I put my head phones on, only to hear music that Sharol and I listened and danced to. I couldn’t control the crying. Then the phone calls started….

A week later I found myself angry that I was left alone, alone to do all the planning…all the living…and die without her holding me. Followed by hours and days of numbness and lost with no relief, grieving was a luxury. I hadn’t time to really do it. Added stress from all over didn’t help. My glucose went way up…and I hadn’t eaten, even my blood press skyrocketed! ….

Then one day last week I just couldn’t get out of the bed. My daughter came everyday for a week, she doesn’t live that far from us, but I really couldn’t focus….

Now 3 weeks later, I decided to write, dear reader, not so much for you but for me. To let go, to heal, to begin to take care of me so that I can take care of my children. Sharol’s scent has left her clothes…I was sad, it felt like she was disappearing and she is. Thankfully I have pictures that remind me of her, I thank God that they don’t make me sad but rather make me laugh or think fondly of that moment in time. I still have times when I cry. Heck I spent most of the day in tears before writing this. I was paying bills and couldn’t figure out who got what and when.

I don’t have any Pearls of wisdom for you, dear reader. I’m just a guy trying to live with…..And now, without his wife. I know someone reading this gets it, it’s such a strange feeling to find yourself sudden alone. For all of you reading this who are going through what I’m going through, I pray that your comfort comes quick.

Until next time…

Faith

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Faith… Trusting and believing in something you can not see, feel or even touch. And hoping, no, knowing that it is there. One dictionary described it as putting your full weight on something. Interesting right?!

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We exercise faith everyday. For example, we step into elevators  with no thought to how they are made, if it will hold…unless fat people get on, if we’ll make it to the top or bottom safely. Our concern for safety comes when our faith is tested or rocked! Like when the elevator jumps, skips a floor…or worse, when it stops. Then we look at the fat people, scan the capacity sign and question Otis’s manufacturing abilities. I know, I’m one of the people they look at. It’s at that very moment that many decide never to get into an elevator again. That’s because fear has set in, the faith had been tested and it didn’t seem to work. At the very least, it didn’t work properly…
   I have been living life as a Christian since 1993 and I have seen many phases of my faith, belief, ideology… etc. In twenty plus years I’ve gone from crazy new “believer” that wanted everyone saved, to, wanting the same thing but present it differently because I’m much older now. For example, I fearlessly walked in a bar once to pass out flyers and talk about Christ. I would go to basketball courts etc. Other christians would sometimes frown upon my boldness. I didn’t care.
   Now that I’m old enough to be staring retirement in the face and…just slow enough not to duck a punch add to that, the current direction our country is going. I’m more likely to strike up a conversation first. I’m also quickly approaching the other side of life…
   Faith, now, takes on a whole new meaning. Before I stepped on the elevator without thinking. But I’ve experienced the jumps, floor skips and stops. My Faith has been tested…heck, it’s been rocked!
  This has been a most trying year. I celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary 3 weeks ago. But there wasn’t much celebration. From the beginning, our marriage had an uphill climb. We a “blended family” as the experts call it. So there were those challenges. But we championed those hurdles. Then came finances, unemployment, debt, illnesses etc.
   But this year, dear reader, has been strange indeed. Items in the last sentence are still hanging over us. But for some reason the start of this year began with an argument that hasn’t seemed to receive its course correction. Every effort to fix it, didn’t/doesn’t work. Piled on top, are the issues of our children, even the grown ones, which seem to be at every turn. So, as you parents know, every time you think we can get back to us…another disaster shows up and the space between us gets wider. And it did…hints the lack of celebration.
   Though we cannot afford it. I found myself searching for lawyers to end what has already ended. We know so many couples, too many, whose marriages have ended for less…what made me think we could do better than them. You know, in an age of electronic distractive devices. When a couple aren’t talking to each other, these devices make things worse! Anyway, like those who chose not get in another elevator because of the bad experiences. I too thought of, as I just said, it was time to call it quits…

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Did you that faithfulness is not a good thing? The bible teaches that it is impossible to please God without faith. Yeah but! Is my response too.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”-Hebrews 11:6.  Yeah but!
  
I recently spoke with my sister, catching up on our families. She too has had a rough year. She questioned God on His “not giving us more than we can bear…” She reminded me, as I told her how I’ve lived this life for over 20 years and didn’t know how to nor did I want to quit, that too many people don’t sit down ask God, “why?” and wrestle with Him for the answer Or wait, they let the issues drown out the answer, whether it be wait or move on and drown out their faith.
   If you read chapter 11 of Hebrews you’ll find a running theme. The people described in the chapter faced incredible odds and each one chose God and chose to serve Him above their circumstances. Some like Abraham, whose obedience was counted as faith, please God immensely even in their imperfection. They were blessed because of their faith.
   Blessings don’t always mean money. It could be your health. The ability to work as another verse says.
  Walking and living by faith isn’t easy…far too many have the misconceptions about Christians, that “they are weak and need a crutch”. That’s a fallacy, there’s no statue for us to hold and prayed to… There’s just Faith. We’re called “stupid” because of it and it takes and awful lot of strength to hold on to what you believe, just like the strength of character to hold on to your marriage…and life.

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My computer died last week with no money to replace it. I was a third into my my novel and in the middle of updating my current book, when this happened! ( currently using my phone) Dear, reader, I don’t know what you face but I’ve told you what I’m facing. I am quite sure that I don’t wish to give up even though the elevator stopped between floors. To get to where I’m going, I need to step in it again and again. I have chosen to hold on to Faith in the face of adversity. Believing that my creator, who knows my needs, will bless me because of that faith…and turn my adversity into victory.
What will you choose…?

17 and Counting

A lady killer,  God’s gift to women…Player. Sounds good at first but then something happens.
James bond was considered a lady killer, a man blessed with good looks, charm and a sense of style. He’d attract the ladies, then “love them and leave them”. Of course, because he looked so good, the women didn’t mind being treated like trash.
Ah, the high school kid born beautiful. Perhaps he’s a jock, but for sure he’s self centered, over confident and annoying to many of the girls. Sadly, even as an adult his behavior hasn’t changed. Yet, surprisingly, he still attracts the ladies!
    “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” …in other words, don’t be mad at me because of what I’m doing, it’s the way things are. I’m not at fault because I’m good at what I do. If that was the sentiment of an upright business leader, it might be acceptable. But the guys saying such things are usually up to no good and wish to get away with the poor behavior. Like having multiple girlfriends and getting caught…”don’t hate the player, hate the game”…Once again, this guy attracts women; like stink of cheese!
The result of all of the above is a very long drawn out relationship to nowhere.  These guys don’t marry, they don’t become fathers to their children. They leave a wake behind them for the marrying kind to clean up (It’s a good thing we have staying power).  It all sounds good to Mr.Imintomyself, until he gets some bad news. Which girl will he call to come to his aide or to comfort him? Who will really care? Mom and Dad are in their golden years,  he didn’t invest in a relationship with his siblings…who’s going to care about him…?

On the 8th of August,  I celebrated 17 years of marriage with my wife. I can’t believe it’s been that long! If it wasn’t for the body aches and pains…and the children I’d swear we were just married. I couldn’t imagine her not being in my life. As a young fool, I couldn’t imagine being with one person for life. But…I enjoy knowing who’s in the bed next to me. I don’t have to fake knowing her name, search my address book or contact list to pick a name for a date. I don’t have to wonder who will visit me when I’m sick, who can I talk to, when I need a listening ear and I always have a partner for whatever I need and this sentiment flows in both directions…
Sure, there’s some debris left from the knucklehead that hurt her years ago when you first meet, but the fool through away a Jewel; that I was smart enough to keep.
“He who finds a wife finds a good    thing, And obtains favor from the Lord” Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV) 

I’m Blessed!