A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
My wife Velna left me on October 22 2015 after lacking two months to reach 63 years of marriage, plus three years of teen age courtship, making a total of 66 years. I have been thinking about the things that mattered most to Velna. On the surface, my list of things I know and knew that she cared about may seem simple or inconsequential, but these matters that were of greatest importance to her guided her life, her actions, her character.
Without a doubt, the most important thing that mattered to Velna was her faith. Her faith was her light, her lamp post, her strength, her support. Her faith gave her the courage to go on with her life during her last years and days, unimpeded by doubt and bitterness. Her faith freed her from pain, from a sense of impending doom during her last years and days, and gave her the strength to continue in the face of overwhelming excruciating pain and disappointment over how she could see that her life was going to be ended. When her wonderful oncologist came to her hospital bed during her last few days, Velna told me how thankful she was for her doctor's kindness and deep compassion and understanding as the doctor gave her, in effect, her end-of-life message. Only Velna's faith could have permitted her to tell me this story with a calm heart and a soft voice full of latent sadness but still resonating with the strength of her faith. Velna was a faithful churchgoer and believer all of her life. She never let flaws or imperfections impede her faith but clung tenaciously to the pillars of her faith, the sources of her strength. She never felt that she no longer needed the anchor of faith, that she could go on without the encumbrance of church and life-long beliefs. All too often, we wait until we reach a crisis before we then realize that our lives have been empty of the most critical attribute that we need when we face the most wrenching experiences of our lives and then we tearfully and regretfully return to our faith and pray for hope and forgiveness. Velna's faith gave me an anchor, a feeling that if she could weather the storm, then so could I survive. As a result, our home was blessed with a feeling of peace. The hospice supervisor told me that he could feel this feeling of peace the moment he walked in our door and he said, surprisingly, that such a feeling was rare since most of his experiences were those of dealing with family conflicts. If Velna had an important lesson to teach, a message that she might hope would penetrate us all, it would be this: Never, never, abandon your faith no matter how difficult your challenges or no matter how hopeless your life may seem. And now, I am in tears and I didn't mean to do that. ( In case you are wondering who the infant is, I think it is Carolyn?)
Some Black family history: Joyce, Evetta, Velna, and Frank
Dear Velna, I didn't write a five month report because I didn't know what to say. And I thought I would need to show that I am making some progress or obviously I couldn't write a progress report. Now, amazingly, six months have gone by since you left us. Every day continues to be painful and sad and lonely. My health has been improving, thankfully, and I don't feel halfway ill so much of the time. I got brave and went to see my cardiologist and got a good report there. Now two more teeth have fallen out and I have to go see the oral surgeon on Tuesday which, of course, I am dreading and worried about. If only you were here to listen to my worries and to reassure me that everything will be all right. I've got most of the birthday cards out but sadly I've missed two or three that I need to make up since I promised you I would take care of them after you were gone. Jim and Sharman have an amazing house which you would love, their yard is stunningly beautiful. Carolyn is coming twice during the next few weeks so that will be nice to have her here. Davidson's visited Sunday, coming for DeAnn's graduation from law school, if you can imagine how she accomplished that tremendous goal. Dear Katie is getting married in June, I hope I can go to her wedding. So much happens each day and each week that I need to tell you about, so much happens that I need to ask you about, to tell you about, to reassure you, and to hear your reassurances to me. I forget to say our prayers which we said together for so long. I work hard on my photos and try to share as many of them as I can and always feel comforted and not so lonely when people take time to click on my posts on facebook and my blog. I found the box of our letters we wrote to each other during our three year teen-age courtship and have published a couple of them. I had my doubts about doing that, they were written more than 65 years ago, if you can imagine, but the events we describe seem more like yesterday. Oh, I almost forgot, I suffered through doing the taxes but I got them done and if I am still around next spring maybe that won't be such a traumatic event. Sadly, I had to sell our St. George home which we loved for more than 20 years so now I am more or less stuck here but the house is comfortable and I have everything I need plus a fantastic view to provide my photography efforts a challenge each day. I am blessed because I have no pain any more, I just wish I could have been more able and free of pain when you were here so I could have taken better care of you. You remain my shining light, my safe harbor, the love of my life. Why you wanted a farm boy from Penrose, I'll never know. Love, your husband.