Yesterday, April 28th marked the anniversary of my engagement to my late husband, Rich, in 1996, and also the 18 month milestone of my Widowhood Journey. Both milestones represent life-changing occasions on both ends of the marital spectrum.
Rich and I had been casually acquainted for a few years before we went out on our first date. I was a full-time working artist at the time and Rich, a talented wood carver, was often found assisting another artist, the late great Frank Hulick, an older gentleman that required help setting up and selling at local art shows.
Because we were all exhibiting and selling our art nearly every weekend, Rich was often in my circle and Frank always made sure we “met”. “Have you met Rich?” he’d always ask on our greetings. “Yes. I have many times,” I’d replied, laughing.
Unbeknownst to me, Rich had expressed an interest in asking me out. I am often accused of being oblivious, so I really hadn’t figured that out. Then, one day, during a large outdoor show he came by and asked if I’d like to go to a movie and then dinner. I said that sounded like a good idea.
Due to distance and our schedules, it wasn’t easy to make that happen, therefore, on the occasions when our paths crossed, he would ask again, and again, until one day I blurted, “I said yes!” Later he’d tell me he couldn’t believe I’d go out with him so he was just giving me an opportunity to change my mind.
I recall our first date at a popular Italian restaurant in Bergen County, NJ. We talked for so long the staff was sweeping around us, and putting chairs up on tables as the evening grew long. From then on, we began to establish our relationship and within a year, we were officially engaged. He tried to give me a ring in the parking lot of the jewelers as soon as it had been purchased, but I said we needed something more romantic.
Soon after, during dinner at a local tavern at the Jersey Shore, we made it official. The tavern owner upon hearing the news sent over a bottle of champagne and some friends at the bar joined us in a toast.
Some know that shortly after Rich’s passing, I flew to San Diego to retrieve my dog, Quint. Quint was born to a street stray that had been pulled from a shelter just days before giving birth to a litter of five in a Foster Home. There’s more to this story which I’ve shared previously, but that morning, the 40th day after his passing, Rich appeared to me in a dream just before I awoke early for my flight to California. It was so clear, on-target and full of life. I knew I had his blessing.
A few hours later at the Jacksonville, FL, airport, I noticed a bag in front of me, and then I understood Rich was truly aware that I was going for that pup who’d been born on the day that he’d been admitted to the ICU at our local hospital. He’d actually seen a picture of the new-born Quint.
I snapped a photo of that encouraging message before that bag was carried away and boarded that plane and saying “Yes” to new adventures that await, and whatever the universe sends my way. I’m grateful that Rich was able to join me for awhile for some truly unforgettable years.
Special Note: At the time of this writing, my father remains in Hospice Care. He is holding on and hasn’t chosen to transition. He and Rich, both Navy Guys, were close. I know Rich will be among those who are sent to help my dad journey to his next assignment. The world is a little less warm without them, but I am grateful for their presence in my life, and the lives of so many others.
More travel and writing news to follow in a later post. Thanks for reading and following along.