I have known many great men in my life. I worked with cops that were pure and simple walking examples of what a good man is. There are few men that are on a level that many never reach. I am talking about the kind of man who other men only dream they could be like. My wifes Pap, Jimmie Solomon was one of those men.
When I first met my father in law I was intimidated. He is a big man with a reputation you hear about well before you meet him but when I met him I had future mother in law back up and future wife back up. When I finally met him I quickly learned he was no one to be concerned with as long as you came correct. As long as I take care of his daughter and treat her as he would I had no worries. When I met my wifes Pap it was another story.
When I describe my wifes Pap it is my view of the short 15 years I knew him. If I get any fact incorrect about him they are my error and I apologize in advance for it. When I was first taken to “The Farm” to meet him I was taken back by the very long rocky road that lead to his house sitting up on the side of a hidden mountain. His brother lived just below him. The road seemed like a scary path to a place that city boys like me had no place going to. There was cattle everywhere. He raised cattle for a living and his farm was impressive to someone who had never been on one. I knew he was a hard man. He was a coal miner also. He had his back broken in the mines. He had the reputation in Morgantown that when he walked across the street it may not be a bad idea to be on the other side of the street. He had a missing finger and it took me a long time to ask him about it. When I met him I received a strong handshake. It was a handshake I could never match. Even in his late 60’s or early 70’s at that time you could tell his presence alone kept you in line. He commanded respect with a handshake and a gentle but firm gaze. He was very welcoming and kind to me on that first visit. I thought I would struggle to converse with him because we had nothing but his grand-daughter and a love for dogs in common. He was very easy to talk to. I listened to him tell me stories about the farm,coal mining, and Morgantown. He told you things you never knew. He did not make me feel dumb. I didn’t get many family stories from him but I learned a good bit.
My wifes Pap would sell his cattle to help fund his granddaughters college. He had my mother in law help neuter cattle. Get your hands dirty kind of stuff. His Farm is huge. To this day I truly do not know how big it is. He would take his ATV all over it and he told me of many times where he had to politely explain to strangers or neighbors the property lines. I am sure that meant a firm “let me explain this to you” conversation. He would run those mountains with his cattle dog. He got hurt once and was a good distance from his home. It was his dog that came and got his wife and brought her to him. He was a John Wayne get stuff done kind of man.
One of the conversations I had with him I will never forget was about my tires. We came to visit and he noticed my tires were balding. He pulled me aside and told me I wasn’t going home until I replaced them. He meant it too. He quietly told me that he would give me the money if I needed it. He told me this away from everyone. I felt like he was giving me an offer if I needed it without embarrassing me. We didn’t need the money but he was willing to take care of us. I fixed those tires the second we left the farm. I was not going to explain how I ignored him and his offer and took his granddaughter on a seven hour trip through the mountains home. He was kind. He didn’t say much but when he did you listened and most of the time you learned something.
My daughter was terrified of him. He played loud and with quick hard movements. He was not rough by any means but to a two or three-year old just learning to walk it was something to get used to. She learned to love his play and after a couple warm up trips she would go after him with great vigor. In his later years he had some trouble moving around but when his great grand daughters were there you never knew it. This hard man would scamper through his house chasing the girls with this huge smile on his face. It was a smile that melted you because it was at those moments that even tough you knew he was a man to be reckoned with and respected he was also a man with a great heart and love for his family. He was the true measure of a man. He was the most a man could be.
A couple years ago time caught up with him. He suffered from Alzheimer’s. I will not offend his life by waxing poetic about a decline with great detail. He does not deserve that. Suffice to say his decline was somewhat textbook for his age and the disease. We visited him in an elderly home in his last years. Even sick and in an advanced age the ladies at the home loved him. They loved him to the point it may have even got him in a little harmless trouble. 80 plus and making the ladies crazy. Like I said he was a mans man. The last trip we made to him was this past December. He loved his dogs and they had long passed and sadly a good part of the mind that made him the great man he was had passed too. We brought our Australian Shepherd to the hospital. His vacant stare gently cracked into a smile upon seeing our Lily Bears. I placed his hand on her head and he rubbed her fur. I saw that familiar smile. The one he had chasing my daughter and her cousin through the house with. No words but that smile was unmistakable. For a moment that dog brought him back. I am so happy that the last time I saw him I saw that smile.
The good Lord was in need of another good man and around 830 PM on 2-18-2015 he brought him home. I bet that there are girl angels up their lining up to get an up close look at the lady-killer. There his brother waits to show him the lay of the land to a farm he may have in Heaven. His dogs are running by his side and of course across that newly minted angels face is a unforgetable smile.
Take this with a sense of humor!!!
George Carlin once said these are the thoughts that kept me out of the good schools. Just like Georgie Porgie Greatest Comedian Ever Pudding and Pie I too never made it to the good schools for the same reasons. I was walking in the rain yesterday with my family in Williamsburg when the most amazing yet useless idea started clanging around in my vast yet simple head: Ashville Park could sustain itself in case the Zombie Apocalypse were to occur. While the raindrops were falling on my head I began to consider the vast talents and skills that our collective occupations lend our Village. This is a smart village with no idiots, unless you consider, the ones building and try to sell to the unfortunate many that do not know about our Eight Miles of Heaven.
I hope it never happens but if another neighborhood were to have beef with our small yet mighty neighborhood they would make a huge mistake. Ashville Park has more than one fighter pilot calling it home. Since have more than one pilot we officially have an Ashville Air Force. We are proud of our brave and selfless pilot (no kidding here) and they would never cause harm to anyone they are sworn to protect but lets say another neighborhood wanted to engage us in a game of nanny nanny boo we we might be about to get them to fly some Pungo Crop Dusters over the offending neighborhoods and drop spoiled eggs, cabbage, Celine Dion CD’s on them. Everyone knows that this random concoction of stuff will melt a home down to its frame without causing injury. We are a forgiving village so we would help fix the community foolish enough to challenge us. It is then that they will see our varied talents at work. We will make their homes look better because we have some awesome architects. Once the blueprints are laid down we can offer drywall help. If anyone should get injured in their town after listening to the Celine Dion CD’s we unloaded we have a doctor, nurses, and even an apothecary to get them back to health. Our Engineeer will help get their infrastructure back up and running. We will fix their schools and improve them with our teachers and principal who can guide them to better education. We have some law enforcement present and former that will help them to rebuild after the rotten eggs erode their police precincts.
They are rebuilt and looking good now we will show them how truly dominant we are. Say they decide to build up their morale by trying to challenge us to a baseball game or field hockey match we have some managers and coaches that have that covered. If they still need some funds to restore their egg and cabbage infested town we even got a guy that can guide them to making a charity event that will rock and roll. We can best our foolish assailants in many other ways too. We have the coolest dogs. Kona and Kai are big and beautiful, Jax rocks a cheerleader outfit and this writers Aussie can out pant any dog anytime. Our kids are the coolest, cutest, muddiest sometimes, and smartest. Do you want to challenge us to a beard growing contest? That would be a bad move Horshack because one look at Bradys magnificent lumberjack beard and you will see that you best not embarrass yourself. We will out BBQ you, out Trick or Treat you, out outdoor movie theater you, and if it comes do a drinking contest outlast you. Did I mention that this is only half of the AP because god knows we have some ample talent from our Wilshire friends.
We are strong talented and fun. Once we rebuild you we will throw a party you will not forget. We are Ashville Park and like the Wu Tang Clan…..Ashville Park ain’t nothing to F$#% with. We are a place even a zombie would love. Now enjoy your Sunday friends and I hope you took it all tongue firmly in cheek.
In March of 2014 my wife and I went to “check out” a neighborhood. We had talked about moving for several years. We considered going up to her home in West Virginia and even kicked around the idea of Colorado. We started to look around in Virginia Beach and felt that the move was not worth the effort. West Virginia was too expensive and locally the home would be a lateral move because we would get no more house for the money. When we went to “check out” that neighborhood in March I asked my wife where it was and she said Pungo. I had not been to Pungo in years. When I was a police officer I went there a couple of times a year because that was where we had firearms training, driving training, and riot training (yes that was what they called it back then). When we made our way to Ashville Park I was stunned at the development that had grown since my police days but was happy to see that Ashville was as far south as they had developed at this time. This trip made me wonder whatever had happened to the Green Lines in Virginia Beach, but I digress. As we entered the community I was impressed with the beauty of the landscape and that the homes were not on top of one another. The homes were beautiful. We had a Three Little Bears visit. The first house we liked the upstairs, the second house we liked the downstairs, but the third home was just right and after being in the neighborhood for only an hour we had started the process to buy a home. The home was perfect, there was a park, and the school district was perfect. The school district was what brought us to this area. When we left the model home a bit stunned at our haste decision I drove my wife to Kellam High School. I told her this school was the reason to move. One day our daughter would go to this greatly rated school and we will know that we made the right decision to move. We really thought that was the long and the short of it. We were moving for the better school district but we would find out that the bounty of our fortune was not yet realized to us.
We had visited our new home several times as it was being built. Each time we visited we met someone new. One family really stood out to us. The Tonelson family spoke to us almost every visit and seemed very nice. They told us about the neighborhood and were honest with all they had experienced. They let us in their home only a short time after they moved in and were welcoming in a way that you just do not see anymore. We thought at least we had one nice neighbor. We later would meet Charles and Kathleen. We kept talking about how nice they were and we wish they were not going to be “two blocks away”. The people we met heightened our excitement about the move. The sale on our old home fell through the day before we were to move into Ashville Park so we were very stressed. On the morning of the second day we were in Ashville Park I got a knock at the door and saw Matt Tonelson standing there with his beautiful little girl asking if Emma could come play to give me a chance to work in the house. I did not see much of Emma for the next couple days. She made friends with three girls that weekend Maddy, KJ, and Sam. Almost immediately we had three new families as friends from her friends.
The next few days were a blur of work, unpacking, hoping for a sale on the old home, and regular life. The neighborhood had one of their first get togethers since we had moved in and nearly every household showed up. There was food, kids, and many new introductions all the way around. I noticed that all the adults looked after ALL the children. If I child fell down the nearest adult went to their aid. Everyone appeared to have a tribal mentality toward taking care of the children. The neighbors had adopted, whether they realized it or not, a tribal mentality where you just took care of each other. I was so moved because I really think that is lacking in so many places these days. When we look after our neighbors and their children society benefits from it. The couple I mentioned that lived so far away were at the event and at several block get togethers afterwards. The neighborhood is so close that the sarcastically aforementioned two blocks is just as good as next door.
You cannot help but want to be involved in Ashville Park. One of the incredibly selfless neighbors Billy is involved in organizing a charity walk for ALS. When I saw that he was getting an Ashville Team together I quickly donated and was disappointed when I did not believe my family could make the event. The neighbors took Billy’s cause as their own and built a team with dozens of participants and T Shirts for our affectionately named Eight Mile Village. I was able to make the event and it was one of the best times I ever had with my family. Most of the families are very different but make everyone feel welcome. I truly love my neighbors and their families.
When we moved here it was for more space and a better school district but we got so much more. We gained an extension to our family. We are part of something that is bigger than a neighborhood we are community that cares for each other. As the neighborhood grows next spring we will work together to make sure that community grows in the best of ways. As I walk the neighborhood I see men being real dads. I see Brady riding bikes with his child as his wife and baby rest, I see Tony ( a man with a complicated business) rocking his baby tenderly on his patio, Bill making puddles every chance he gets for his son and lovingly calling his daughter pet names, I see Matt ever diligently watching over not only his daughter but the other children on the block, Daniel always attentive with his kids, Scott is always in his yard with his kids, and another father ( I have yet to meet) rocking his baby on his porch in the early morning light. Men owning up to their responsibilities as fathers without ego. I see Shannon G, Lynsey, Melanie, Vinnie, Leanh, my Shan and several other mothers constantly biking and walking with their children and babies. Robin and Melanie are always so kind to always offer a kind word and a hand to my wife. Many times the parents have other families children with them. FAMILY!!! It doesn’t stop there either when you have people like Millie and Ron keeping an eye out on things with you and ever ready to just talk and create a wonderful break in your day. If their were more communities like ours life would be so much better. We are not better, just closer and maybe in some ways stronger.
When we drive into Ashville Park my daughter always says, “Are We Almost In Ashville Park?” and to that I say thank God yes.
13 years ago I did not have a child. My marriage was pretty new and I still remember my wife on the phone telling my in a terrifying pitch that we were being attacked. I can remember listening to the radio in the office of the grocery store I was a manager in and hearing that there were several planes unaccounted for. It seemed every couple of minutes a theory of what was going to happen next materialized out of thin air. Through all this chaos I was stacking soup cans. The concept that the United States could be under attack in 2001 was so alien to us that even as the world watched the towers fall most of us continued to work. Customers would ask me where the canned beans were and then almost dismissively say “what the hell is going on in New York?”. When I got home I couldn’t get my eyes off the TV. We were watching the world change.
On September 12, 2001 a strange thing happened. For a while it seemed that we all remembered we American. We remembered we were all on the same team. Some of our poor racial behavior toward each other faded a little. American flags flew on many more homes than September 10th, 2001. We were friendlier to each other, we talked to more strangers on the street, and we were scared. When a family faces a crisis they often quietly, slowly turn to each other for support and America was reminded it was a family on the horrific day. We acted quickly and went after our enemy. Most everyone was behind our president and his actions. I will never forget the stunned look on his face when his handlers told him, as he sat in a school classroom, what had happened. You don’t have to like George Bush but he did not back down and he stood strong for the country. Mistakes were made but in the heat of that moment I believe only a fool would hold those against him. I cannot imagine with what he was faced with the stress he was under but I digress. My point is we were united. There was little talk of political parties and their differences. There would be plenty of judging and finger-pointing later but the government was pretty united in the weeks after the attack. I could not imagine being a parent on that day.
What would I have said to my daughter? Would I have been able to explain that there are real bad people in the world but they are a minority so try to not be afraid. To be clear when I say minority I mean that their belief of hatred toward us is in a small number of people compared to our worlds population. Would I have been able to hold back my anger at the attackers and if I identified the wrong people as the attackers how would I explain that to her? I want my daughter to understand the moment but not be paralysed by it. My daughter was born seven years after the attack so it may never be real to her. I took her to Ground Zero shortly after she was born but she will never remember it and maybe that is a good thing.
Time has passed and we have been at war the entire time. We have killed many terrorist leaders and they keep growing back. The pride we had the day after the event has long faded. Like anything else in America the event has passed and we have new things to fight about nationally. We voted in a black president. During Obama’s election and for years into his first term it was a great time to “Blame Bush!” The war, the down turn of the economy, bad military decisions, and Lost being cancelled were all Bush’s fault. The new president tried to start strong. He continued to get some of the biggest terrorists of the day. But eventually it seemed like the war at home was bigger. The economy turned south, OBAMACARE was fighting point,gun control issues, people shot in schools, people shot on military bases, people shot in movie theaters, the man takes too many vacations, and now it’s Obama’s fault. Congress refuses to work together. The parties fight to the point that little gets done. The media is entertainment and they must have a script so the news is reported in either a conservative or liberal way. Rarely is the news reported. We blamed Bush and Obama but the government never seems to blame itself and its inability to be adults, resolve issues, and be leaders. What is a parent to do? How do you teach your child about 911 and how to resolve issues when our leaders can’t agree on biscuits or toast? I will tell you how in my humblest of opinions.
Emma the events of 911 were horrific. A group of terribly evil people killed many Americans over ideals that we will never fully understand. The people who did this were cowards and did it for reasons that at the end of the day just make no sense.The people that died at 911 were everyday people just going about their lives. Someone from nearly ever ethnicity and both sexes died that day. Many people drove miles to offer help not knowing what they were going to do they were just “compelled by the event”. You love dog sweet heart and even dogs became heroes searching for missing people over tons of rubble. People would work tirelessly pulling people living and dead out from the pile left at Ground Zero. 911 was a moment of clarity for this country and we showed the world that we take care of our own. We showed the world that we will drop everything to help fellow Americans. It does not matter their skin color, sex, faith, or who they love because we are all Americans. There was a war and is a war and war never makes sense but sometimes it is sometimes a needed evil. One of the many problems with war is figuring out when the juice is no longer worth the squeeze. As a result of our war many military people have given their lives. As a result of the recovery efforts at Ground zero many firemen, medical staff, police officer, civilians, and those rescue dogs either died or became very sick from working the site. Why we remember 911 is because we can never forget those that gave all. We can never forget the volunteers that dropped everything to help each other. We can never forget that although the world may seem scary that in the worst of times we pull together. No matter how poorly our government acts toward each other blaming each other for everything we must rise above. Sweetheart you are the future. Your generation is the future. There may still be wars ahead but you can choose to make a difference. Be kind to everyone. Do not judge race. Do not judge faith. Be careful not to pick a side where they tell you what side you are on. Be yourself. You don’t have to agree with everyone and not everyone has to agree with you but find ways to work with those that do not see you eye to eye. You will make mistakes in life but they are merely life lessons. If you can do this you will be honoring those that were lost and hopefully your generation can show my generation how foolhardy we sometimes are. I love you!
The truth is that there is not an easy way to talk to your child about 911 but I do think it is important that we give them a reason to remember the souls touched by 911 and to try and make sure as best you can that it does not happen again and if it does work together not apart. Bless and thank all that died at 911, all that worked the pile, all that fought and fight in the wars and every family member.
What is a home? Is a home a place to simply watch TV, eat, sleep, wash, and repeat? Does a home have a pulse or life of its own? Before the age of 19 I lived in three different homes. From the age of 19 to 30 I lived in 12 different addresses. I loved having a different apartment every year. Since the age of 31 I have lived in the same house with my wife. I have lived in our Glenwood home longer than anywhere else in my 45 years on this planet. Our Home is the book where the story of our marriage has been so far written. Our home has been to backdrop of so many events. I have been in the grocery business for 15 years and before that I was a police officer. For the first few years of our marriage I struggled with working retail. I felt I was helping no one and contributing to nothing. I desperately wanted out and in that home I applied, replied, and conversed about many opportunities. I passed up several offers and stormed around that house wanting something more. I would eventually even take a job with the Fire Department but found my way back to the my present line of work. Work would have many ups and downs but in this old home my wife always had my back and was the greatest devils advocate.
The grandest of all wars would be witnessed in this old home. Parenthood was a life time wish of mine and when we decided to try we hit a big cruel infertile wall. I clearly remember spending an entire day and night on my Luv Sac in the living room keeping an eye on my wife after one of our miscarriages. Many tears would be shed privately by me in this old home when my wife was not there. I needed to be strong for her but in a quiet moment this old home knows about my breakdowns. The war would eventually be won and my wife would spend eight months on bed rest in this home. Our child would be born and so many things would chasing but we were always safe in this old home.
I walk in my daughters room. The room barely looks like the one I brought here home too. Its being packed up and the walls my Dad painted for her stand out boldly reminding us its a little Princesses room. The hundreds of diapers I changed in that room, to nights I spent rocking her to sleep, the thousands of stories I have read to her, and the endless number of songs I have sang to her are wove into the walls of this old home. She started walking here, reading here, laughing here, and she has been nursed back to health so many times. The room went from rockers, cribs, and Hello Kitty to a big bed, fish tank, and Monster High.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I have shared so many great ones there with family and friends, Christmas trees and Santa visits, birthday parties, and Easter Egg hunts. This home hosted them all. I have baked in this home with my daughter. Love has been made in this home and grown. Our family became what it is today in these walls. Many pets have been love here and three were lost. One was lost suddenly and by surprise, one while we were out of town, and recently our Big Brown friend moved on. Now this home is silent a shell of itself. The barks are mostly gone, the furniture and belongings slowly packed away. This home will soon belong to another family and I hope they are as lucky as we are. I hope the love we leave behind is karmic and grows for the new family. I hope we still see out neighbors and their love continues to grow.
The new home brings new dreams and new chapters. In this home we will celebrate new memories. We will see a little girl bringing friends through its halls and eventually boyfriends and grandchildren. We will grow older. I will watch from the porch a new neighborhood grow and make new friends. Their will be struggles but our old home has taught us to survive. First we must bring Big Browns ashes to the home and make a home for them by a tree in the huge yard. She will swatch over us. I look forward to the future but I will never ever forget the past.
I did not want the dog. We had gone to a cat show and were considering getting a dog but that day the only thing on the agenda was a cat show. Somehow that day we ended out at the Norfolk city pound. I really did not think we would find a dog at the pound. I found a dog alright. I found a classic hound puppy but when I turned around to tell my wife, Shannon, about the hound she was in possession of the scruffiest, dirtiest little brown dog I had ever seen. She was a mess and I was unimpressed but Shan was in love. I put up no fight and the paperwork with Norfolk was filed. A couple days later Shan brought the puppy to see me at a warehouse I was working at after picking her up to bring home. I was not there but my friend Wayne was. Wayne had good things to say about the puppy we would name Abbey.
Abbey was a multi generational feral dog and was full of behavioral issues. None of them were concerning at the time but she was nervous and would often hide. Abbey would get under our bed and we would have to get something to poke at her to coax her out from under the bed. The first week we had her I received a frantic call from Shan. We had some people over working on the house and she could not find Abbey. Shan was in a mess thinking that the pup somehow escaped while the workers were in and out of the house. I came back to the house with the guy I was looking with and we could not find her at first. We eventually found her standing perfectly still in the middle of the living room under a table. Abbey would eventually reach 75 to 80 pounds but could stay so still you would not notice her. I gave my wife a hard time afterwards. I told her they were going to make a movie about her called “How To Lose a Puppy In Seven Days”.
Abbey would not take long to earn her place in the home. Shan was involved in a horrible car wreck. She lost several weeks of memory and to this day does not remember the accident. The accident happened the day before Hurricane Isabel smashed into Virginia Beach. My wife was rushed to the hospital but they basically evacuated the hospital and sent her home. I got Shan on the couch and she was incoherent. It was only a half hour before the pharmacy closed and I had to rush out and get her meds. I asked my neighbors to check on her after I left. When I got back the neighbors said they could not get in the house. A little brown puppy growled and snarled and snapped and had herself firmly entrenched between my passed out wife and the neighbors she did not know. A couple years later we would have a tropical storm hit. During the storm I went outside and accidentally locked myself out. When I broke in through the window Abbey bit me on the hand before she knew it was me. As soon as she knew it was me she kept trying to make up to me. Abbey was fiercely protective.
We got Abbeys a buddy. We adopted an Aussie named Lily. To this day I don’t think Abbey cared if Lily was there but when it was time to be on guard they worked in tandem. They were a good pair. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber!! On a couple occasions they got into fights. At least twice blood was drawn and it scared us. The vet said it was normal but when our daughter was born it would make us nervous. We had a party once and I convinced Shan that everyone loved pimento cheese sandwiches. I bought a couple trays of sandwiches including one with the pink sandwiches. The party went well and I did something I rarely do I got drunk. Not really drunk, more like snockered. The next morning when I made it downstairs I inventoried the pink sandwiches and they were almost all gone. Through a foggy head I bragged to Shan that I was right and people loved pink cheese sandwiches. Later that afternoon I was talking to a neighbor that had been at the party and he said that dog of yours loves pimento. I gave her almost the entire tray. She pooped pink for days.
Abbey was a great dog. She would hold her potty for a day if she needed to. She always knew when you were sad and was relentless with kisses and head butts until you smiled. She was goofy and knew how to please. She was strong-minded. When she was a puppy I walked her a mile and a half to my wife’s uncles house. She decided she was not walking back and I had to carry her home. When Abbeys was done she sat down and nothing could move her. Abbey was a family member. She was loyal and I never met a person that did not like her. We humanize our pets. I certainly humanized her and I will never apologize for it. They make your bad days tolerable.
Abbey recently developed cancer. The vet originally thought it could be cut out but during the x-rays it was so bad they could not see her lungs. My wife and I rushed to her side before she was euthanized. My wife was a mess and when Abbey saw me she inched toward me. It was heartbreaking. In true Abbey style she even went to her death on her terms. The tech could not get her up on the table and I had to carry her to the table. Like when she was done with her walks Abbey decided that if she was going there I was taking her there. My wife was amazing and held her to the end. Abbey’s ashes will make it to our new home later this month. Abbey was proof positive that the things you do not look for in life can make the biggest difference and impact. I love you Big Brown and I will never, ever forget you. You loved barking at squirrels and there is no doubt in my mind that even after we move to our new home I will hear you from time to time barking at the wubbies.
Did you hear the story about boy marries girl then girl tries to kill boy then boy runs away from girl and divorces her and swears off girls (well not wholly) and then another girl asks out same boy and the new girl marries the boy and they all lived happily ever after? If you have not heard that story then Valentines Day is a great day to hear it.
In 1992 I met the girl of my dreams. She was pretty, nice and was the type of girl many boys would have fallen in love with. I was working my dream job as a cop and now I was marrying the girl I assumed I would be with my entire life. After only a few months the problems began. There would be several events that would lead to me leaving the job. My first wife was a diagnosed manic-depressive with very violent tendencies and a huge appetite for alcohol. Over the seven years of marriage she pulled my service weapon on me several times, many times waking me up to the barrel of a Smith and Wesson. She pulled a radio out of the wall swinging it by the cord striking me numerous times in the head. I had abrasions all over my hands from covering up my head. When the police showed up to the police officers house to arrest her one of my supervisors saw the cuts on my hand and told me he was going to have my ass once he could prove I was beating her. I left the job because she wanted to move home and quite frankly I knew I would lose the job if I did not get away from her. I believe when you fall in love and marry you don’t leave unless your options are exhausted. We moved to Ohio and things got worse. After several months and a very violent final episode I left Ohio. Thanks to some friends I made in the Birthplace of Flight and my parents I escaped and started over. New life, new job and that concludes the prologue to my story.
I took a job at a grocery chain and for nearly a year I kept my head down and worked. I saved money and had no plans on dating. Near the end of the first year I got a girls phone number and gave her mine. The first time we talked on the phone it was three in the morning and she was asking me to come over to her home b because she was drunk and wanted me. We had never even been on a date and only spoke a few times. My experienced crazy meter went off and I never talked to her again. Strike one. Like a moth to a flame I started to talk to another girl a couple months later and in no time she became obsessive and frighteningly clingy. Strike two. I was promoted quickly twice at my job and transferred stores. I worked long hours and was truly thinking that I would never date again because I only attracted crazy. Maybe I needed to bat for my own team? There was a girl that worked in the pharmacy at the store I was a manager in. She was cute, had pretty eyes, and wore glasses. I never gave it too much thought. I thought she was cuter than most but I darn sure was gun shy. I noticed her but left it at that. I noticed many pretty girls that walked in the store and even briefly spoke to some just to make conversation or maybe there was a part of me that did not want to forget how to talk to a woman. But the girl in the pharmacy was the one I often thought about. There were a couple girls who worked in the store that showed great interest in me but one was crazy and the other was married which by default made her crazy because I was not her husband. Strike three and four!!! I was done.
I was building a display in the back of the store when a girl from the pharmacy approached me. She was not THE girl and I figured she had a business question. She asked me if I was single and I said yes. She said that if I was interested the Pharmacist was off for the next four days and wouldn’t mind going on a date with you. THE girl was the pharmacist. I did not know this fact because she was so young I assumed she was a tech or cashier. I took the number and sat on it for four days. I waited until her last night off to call her because I did not really want to go on a date and I figured if I called sooner I might have to go on one. Did I mention I was gun shy? We talked for hours and the first date was planned.
The first date was a humdinger. I took her to a coffee shop and made the mistake of giving her coffee and rock candy. Her mouth was in overdrive and I drank it in like a fine wine. The next few dates were the same. We dated for several months and crazy never ever showed up. One day I was talking to her mother and she made the comment that if I did not marry her then they would find someone that would. She said this as a joke but I took it to heart and asked her to marry me. My only regret was not asking her father first but it was never an issue. We were married in West Virginia and still crazy never showed but it would.
After we were married a series of events occurred over the years that were just life moments. The funny thing about life moments is that the way you deal with them as a couple defines the strength of your marriage. I had a surgery that was not expected but it was not life threatening either. I can still remember her telling the doctor he gave me medications I was having a reaction to and he better switch up what I was getting. It was a lion protecting her pride. Even in a drugged stupor I recognized how dedicated she was to me.
A hurricane was approaching Virginia Beach and most hurricanes missed us but this one was on target. The night before the storm my wife was involved in a horrendous car accident. She would require a combination of stiches and staples that when counted were well into three digits. She lost a great deal of her memory and it completely changed her from that day forward. I did not sleep for two days watching over her after I got her home. The hurricane pounded our home and thankfully we were one of the few that never lost power. The storm passed and she was unresponsive. I threw her in the car and sped top the hospital. The roads were a mosaic of fallen trees and signs. The hospital took care of her and finally that night I rested.
We wanted a child and quickly found that we had infertility issues. We fought through miscarriages and several years of fertility treatments and gave up. One day she told me and I was not given an option that we were trying one more time through IVF. I begged no because I could not see her hurt anymore. Good thing she doesn’t listen to me because now our daughter is five.
This past year I lost my job due to downsizing. It was stressful. I had a job lined up but it was the same job I was losing for less pay still serving the same company that downsized me. My job was farmed out to another company. The company I had worked for fifteen years was not keeping some of its promises. I would go from happy to angry at the flip of a switch. Some of the people I worked with misunderstood my emotions and that only made things worse. The first few months of the new job were frustrating. The job ended out being a blessing and things began to smooth out. I love my new company and am no longer angry with my old company. My wife never wavered in her support. She never made me feel that I was not loved, special. Even when I was at my worst she was there. She has always been my rock. No matter what life has thrown at us in over a decade she is there. I do not take her for granted but I never doubt that she will understand me and when the time is right play my devils advocate. Love is one of those things that you know when you see it. You cannot define love because it is different things to different people but love is truly what gets me through the good and the bad. My wife, Shannon, taught me to take chances, trust myself, and not be afraid to fail. I learned to let go. I hope you all have this kind of love or find this type of love. I love you Shannon. Happy Valentines Day!!!