Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Four Years Ago... Sniff Sniff

I got married in March of 2005. It was a lovely ceremony, truly beautiful (I am the snow beast in white, in case you couldn't pick me out). I get compliments on the event pretty frequently, even though it was years ago. We had the ceremony at the state capitol building, which rivals the most ornate churches with its intricate woodwork, marble floors and stained glass, and then the reception was at The Children's Museum. Fun, unique, different. It was perfect. And, as you know, Mark and I are still married, so all in all, it was a success. Contrary to all of that... I don't have fond memories of my wedding day like you are supposed to. Usually, it just makes me sad.

I danced with four men at my wedding. I danced with Mark, my dad, my grandpa and one of my closest friends. In May of 2005, that list was cut in half. My grandpa and my dear friend died within weeks of each other. And when I think of my wedding day, no matter what regard its mentioned in, I think of those two men that I no longer have with me, and it makes me sad. I cherish the fact that I have such profoundly beautiful memories of them from that day, but it has colored that day in a different hue than any of us pictured.
The anniversary of their deaths is this month and amazingly, my grandpa's passed without me even knowing it. It wasn't until today that I realized he died four years ago. In fact, the funeral was four years ago yesterday. Isn't that amazing how a day that seems burned into your memory can just pass four years later without a thought at all? I think about my grandpa frequently. I use his quotes ("I could fix insert anything here if I just had the tools and knew how" or "this is a two dumb outfit" used for anything that two people can't manage to get done, or my personal favorite as a kid "I don't see why not" used for absolutely anything you asked of any adult). He was the kind of man that could do anything. Fix anything. He was a man's man... a fisherman, he worked a crane at a cement plant (if only my Will knew him then... wow would he be impressed). But, he cried til the day he died when he spoke of his son Norman who died before I was born. He was sensitive. He didn't like cursing, and when telling a story of how he and my grandma broke up once before they were married, he got so upset he couldn't talk about it. That was after 50 plus years of marriage and the idea of losing her for that short time was too much for him to take. We danced to "Butterfly Kisses," a song I cannot stand, but will forever remember because it was the last time I really spent with him. A man that I will always consider as close to perfection as God made them.

My good friend, Bill Tatum, died on May 21st. He and I had only known each other since 2001, but we had a connection. And it was strange. Bill was 50 when he died, and I was 26. We met when I went to work at the State of Indiana. He was the Operations Manager and the opposite of me in every way. He was middle aged and I was fresh out of college. He was gruff and resembled Grizzly Adams. I was clean cut (or sometimes punk) and dressed to the hilt. He was country and I was city. But, he was one of my best friends. For whatever reason we bonded right off the bat. I remember sitting in a meeting one day, me the lowly Office Manager temp taking meeting minutes and him, a second in command booming out opinions and orders to others. He looked at my blond hair with pink tips and said "your hair is two different colors." I didn't miss a beat and fired right back at his gray and brown mop "Gosh, Bill... so's yours!" From that moment on... we were hooked. He called himself my "work dad" because we went to interview a potential employee and the candidate asked if it was "take your daughter to work day." He called me Princess (as everyone at that job did) and said it in his gruff country accent that rivaled a Texan on their best day. I can still hear it in my mind. I forced him to try hummus, and he forced me to try riding on his Harley... the one and only time I've been on a motorcycle. He died of a heart attack while building a new addition onto his house. It was sudden, unexpected. I remember when his daughter, only slightly younger than me, called to tell me that Saturday he died and I just kept asking "what? How?" over and over because I couldn't wrap my brain around him being gone. I still can't. We were polar opposites, and yet told each other everything. We danced to Etta James's eternally beautiful "At Last" and I still can't listen to that song without crying. We were polar opposites, but for some reason that hillbilly, as I called him, is stuck in my heart forever.

I named my first son after these two men. Will for Wilfred Ash and Alexander for William Alexander Tatum. He will never know them, as they were both gone before Will was a twinkle in my eye or a thought in my head. But, so far, I can see that for some reason he already has the very best parts of them. Not just in name, but in spirit. And there are no men better for him to be like than them.


Busy Bee Suz said...

This is such a wonderful tribute to two amazing men who have touched your life. I am so sad that losing them clouds the memory of your wedding day. (Which by the way sounds amazing and YOU look ROCKIN'!!!)
People come into our lives for a reason, season....ok, you know the saying.....They both left an impact on you. You have good memories of them that you can hold in your heart forever.
Take care, Suz

Homa said... have a way of bringing tears to my eyes. I believe that these two men, and your little man Will have really brought out a side in you that only those close to you get to see. You've got such a big loving heart, that I think you really underestimate yourself at times. You can't hide behind hot pink tips and extensions forever!

AND, stop being so hard on looked absolutely GORGEOUS on your wedding day!!!

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post. It makes you think about the impact people have on your life and the reason for them being a part of your journey.

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

What a touching post.

I'm sorry you lost these two special men, but glad you have such wonderful memories of them. And your little guy WILL know them, because of YOU!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

What a wonderful tribute.


Anna See said...

I am so sorry you lost these dear men in your life. This is a wonderful tribute to them both.

the mama bird diaries said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post about these two amazing men.

bernthis said...

I agree with Suz. That is such a wonderful tribute.

My parents have been married 50 years and I just cannot imagine one without the other and honestly, I know they can't either. Your grandpa sounds like he was an amazing guy

Karen said...

How bittersweet that your wedding has so many emotions tied to it.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Thanks, everybody! It was nice to write about people that mean something, instead of being mean about something to people. What a change!