dontravis.com blog post #586
Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.
As the fourteenth anniversary of my wife’s death approaches, I’d like to repost a little piece I put up in 2017 for no other reason than it fits my mood. Please bear with me.
By Don Travis
“Mine’s Wilma.” She dug her tin spade into the sandbox and dumped a load of grit over his blond head.
“Stop it!” He fought tears, spit dirt, and dug at his eyes with chubby fists. “Why’d you do that?”
“My mommy says you mess your pants.”
“Do not!” he yelped.
“Do, too!” Wilma came back at him.
“Bobby Poopy head! Bobby Poopy head!”
He tuned up but refused to cry.
“What’re you doing?” Wilma demanded. “Don’t want you walking me to school. I’m meeting my girlfriends.”
“Not walking you to school. Walking me to school. Can’t help it if you’re filling up the sidewalk.”
“I wish you’d never moved here. Things used to be better.”
“Yeah, well, I wish we’d never moved here, too. Not on your street, anyway. Wish you was a boy.”
Wilma put a finger down her throat and said, “Gag!”
Bob smiled. He got her that time.
“Need a ride?”
She slipped into the passenger seat of his 55 Fairlane. “Thanks, Bob. I’m running late. Couldn’t get my hair to behave this morning.”
“Looks great to me.”
“Well, thanks again. We gonna win tonight?
“Better. The Ravens are the team to beat if we want to go to State.”
“You’ll do it. You’re a good quarterback. Go get ‘em, Cowboys.”
His face glowed.
Bob turned bright red when they put the crown on his head, but his heart swelled when they placed a tiara on Wilma’s head and declared them King and Queen of the Prom.
“First dance? he whispered.
“And the last,” she murmured.
It turned out to be all the ones between, as well.
The phone crackled in his ear until her voice answered. “Hi, babe.”
“Bob! So glad to hear your voice. I miss you so much.”
“I’ll be home for spring break soon. And next year you’ll be up here at the U with me.”
“Have you… met anyone?” Her voice broke.
“Lots, but not another Wilma. You?”
“Not another Bobby.”
“Do you, Robert Preston Katey, take this woman to be your wedded wife?”
“Do you, Wilma Patricia Munson, take this man to be your wedded husband?
And just like that… it was done.
The honeymoon in summertime Aspen was as nearly perfect as he could imagine.
The radio crackled, but he faintly heard her voice. Time was precious, and he tried to make the most of it. She and baby Bobby were all right… and that was what mattered. Over the distant thud of mortars and artillery and the occasional rattle of small arms, he assured himself of that. The presence of others in the dugout put a halter on his tongue, but he managed to tell her he loved her… them.
“And I love you, too. Oh, Bob, when are you coming home?”
“As soon as we whip these guys into line.” Could she hear the phony jocularity in his voice?
“Be careful, hon.”
Then Bobby Jr. came on the line and sprouted childish gibberish, but it was the most wonderful nonsense in the world.
On their tenth wedding anniversary, Bob stood, uncomfortable in his tux, and lifted his glass in a toast. “We had a rocky start in our relationship. She stuck out her tongue at me, and I pulled her hair from the time my family moved into the house beside theirs when I was five. But I believe the Good Lord willed that we be together. No, he connived to overcome our early experiences. But I thank the Lord for being persistent. Here’s to my beautiful wife, Wilma.
Bob gave that same toast containing the identical prayer of thanks over each of the following forty years. On the forty-first, he delivered the message personally.
As I’ve said on this blog before, February through April are a blue time for me. February 12 was the date my wife died, March 13 is her birthday, and April 8 our wedding anniversary. This expanded to almost half a year when my older son died two years ago on January 22, and his birthday fell on May 14.
Stay safe and stay strong.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!
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