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.
Dear Velna, tomorrow is May 24 and you would have caught up with me in age as you always did once a year. You were only 16 and a junior in Laramie High School and I had reached the advanced age of 17 when we went on that first blind date, neither of us even imagining that we would be signing up for a life time commitment just for finding out what each other looked like when I rang your doorbell on that cold January night in 1950. It never entered my mind that I would have to remember your birthday all alone in an empty house. I went to a funeral viewing for our neighbor on Saturday and it was the first time I had worn the new suit Russell helped me buy when you left us after I sat on the bed and cried because I didn't have a decent suit to wear. Now this was the first time I have been in the church building since the day of your funeral and I had to muster all of my courage to be there.
I think I am doing better in some ways, at least. I keep thinking I need to show you a photograph, or ask you where you put that, or what I should do about this, or how can I help you, or a million other things. I still can't get used to the fact that I am here by myself. I don't watch much television and I spend most of my time trying to clean up the clutter that I artistically accumulated after you left me and now I am making some progress, actually, honest. I spend a lot of time on pictures and you will be shocked to see the new camera I ordered that will be here this week. But I figured I'm not paying on an expensive car and I can keep searching for memories and beauties of nature to preserve and give to others. For several years, I hoped to sell photos. Now, my only goal is to give as many pictures away as I can for personal use with the hope someone else will find a moment of inspiration or comfort in one or more of them.
Somehow I will get through your birthday tomorrow but it will be difficult because I will be flooded with so many memories like the memories from the picnic we went to at Vedauwoo between Cheyenne and Laramie probably in 1951 remembered in the photo above. I will never know why you said yes to a second date, and then a third, and then a dozen or more, and so we just kept going to the movies at the Wyo and the Fox and to parties at the LDS Institute and then to Elitch's in Denver when your mom loaned us their car so we could go. I had to scrape by to find the price of a movie ticket when I was only making 75 cents an hour and I remember often being tired on our dates because I had to work nights. But you were the light of my life, my source of strength and courage to continue to struggle against the odds to get through my undergraduate years at Wyoming and then you helped me work our way through a year at Montana State and three years at the University of Michigan. Then, without complaint, we moved here and there, and you always seemed willing to try new adventures in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., back in Laramie, Fort Collins, Montana, and then our final spot in Utah of all places, a state I once vowed I would never live in at a school I had turned down several times.
Now I relive those precious moments that were the milestones of our lives, the marks on the door frames that measured the height of our kids, the band concerts and little league games and football games and basketball games and the long hours I worked so we could have a nice home. You did become impatient when, as a chronic hypochondriac" I kept asking you, "Velna, do you think it's serious?" To which you would answer, alternatively, "I'm not a doctor, how should I know?", or "How many times are you going to keep asking me that?" or, if you think it's serious let's get you to the ER." Now if I have a symptom I am on my own.
So I remember you on your birthday as you were always quick to forgive my faults and never brought up mistakes I made and always approached life and your own life-ending trials with patience and courage and a smile. So many people have told me how they remember your response when they asked how you were and you always said, "I'm fine." Now I am trying each day to emulate the strengths you so quietly and patiently demonstrated. And I honor your birthday in your absence knowing that some day in the not too far distant future I will see you again. I was just a farm boy from Penrose and you were born in Cowley only a few miles away and a few months later and our paths would cross a few years later and then we would travel life's road together along with all of the detours and wonderful blessings and difficult challenges that polished the love we had for each other into a bright and shining reality that shone ever brighter, ever more precious, as we faced our last years together and realized the blessings that we may have overlooked too easily earlier in our lives. So happy birthday, Velna. Your loving husband, Dwight.