I've written a few times about being a genea-holic and all that it entails. The constant desire to search for the elusive ancestor and being driven almost to distraction in the search. And when that document, photo or history is found doing the happy dance of joy at being successful in solving the mystery. I've also written about how the information can prove to be bitter sweet when you learn the person you are searching for is not the man you held in high esteem.
I've been fascinated by family history for what now seems most of my life. I've been amazed at their accomplishments and felt their disappointment when life became a struggle. I think of my own grandparents and the things they did to survive and the changes they witnessed in their lives. To realize that in their lifetime they went from depending on horses and kerosene lamps to driving a Buick and learning to use a microwave, it makes me realize how special and incredible their generation was.
Over the last few weeks I've pondered over how those of us living today will be perceived by future generations. Will future genea-holics do the happy dance of joy when they track us down? You may wonder why my thoughts have gone in this direction. I've always been excited to receive copies of documents that in some case have taken years to find, but a few days ago I received a document I hoped to never see. It had all the usual information that through the years I've come to expect, but, this time the information was all to familiar and reality set in. Through my tears I read the name of the deceased, as I continued reading and found my own name as the surviving spouse I fell to my knees. All these years of collecting family death certificates, and being thrilled to obtain them, suddenly I realized the pain and heartache that each represented for their loved ones so long ago. Today I look at my collection in new light and say a little prayer for those who have gone before, because now I realize what these papers truly meant. So from now on with my dance of joy, I will take time to remember what the little piece of paper meant in the lives of my ancestors.
So in tribute to my husband who now rests in the arms of God, I want to tell you of a man who was my companion, my love, my partner but most of all my best friend. He listened to my stories of family long gone for hours and never yawned. When he couldn't sleep he would ask for what we called “mu-mu stories”, and I would tell him about how our ancestors crossed the sea and soon I would hear him snore. Now I wonder who will listen to my stories and share the joy with me as I solve the mystery of the past.
He was not a wealthy man in material things, but rather gathered his riches by sharing his love and friendship with everyone he met. In his world there were no strangers just people he hadn't met, being shy was not a word he knew or understood. He could be a jokester and got a kick out of pulling my leg, you would think after 24 years I would be wise to his ways, but somehow I'd always fall for his gags, I only wish this was one of them and I could have him back.
He grew up in the grocery business and worked as a meat cutter until he retired. He received so many customer service awards I could paper a wall with them. His customers loved him and he them. I heard a story from his boss of how he could make his customers laugh and smile by turning his hat to the side, remove his teeth and with a big toothless grin say, “Can I help you ma'am?”. He said they would laugh til they cried. His antics were many, but I loved how they would make me smile, I'd tell him he was weird and he would just grin a toothless smile.
His life was not without pain and struggle and many things could torture his mind, but somehow together we could make life work, forever lifting each other up. Like all of us he had his faults too, but his beautiful and gentle heart made those faults seem unimportant and irrelevant. He never faltered in his devotion to his family and always lent a hand. His love and willingness to help my parents was more than I could ask. I'd always thank him for the things he did for them and he would just say - “I love helping Mom and Dad!” His love for his daughters and grandchildren was endless and completely unconditional. I knew every day of our married life that his love for me grew stronger as mine did for him. Those 24 years seem so short now and I wonder how they could have gone by so fast. But, as I reflect on all the things we did and shared, I realize how rich and full of love every moment was. Even when we disagreed or argued over what seems so unimportant now, it always ended with, “You're wrong, but I love you any how.”
For now, his beat up old cowboy hat, that he wore everywhere, hangs on a dining room chair reminding me that his love remains, forever in my heart and in this place.
So now I begin a new chapter in my life and wonder what it will be like – being just “me” and not a part of “us”. I know that God has a plan and in that I put my trust.
Our 24 year journey through the good times and the bad came to an end on November 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm, Darrell was swept up into the arms of God our Father in Heaven, his journey on earth ended, but his eternal life was born. In my mind's eye I can see his twinkling blue eyes sparkling and shining as he entered through the gates of heaven into the arms of Jesus our Savior. I know that he must be in awe at the wonders he is being shown. I also know that a special place was prepared for him - because Jesus told us he would. I know that God has wiped all the tears from his eyes and wrapped him in His arms and surrounded him with love. Just as we are celebrating his life with us. I know that Darrell is with those who have been waiting for him and that they are celebrating with the angels as he has returned to our Father in Heaven.
For you sweetheart.