i’ve been having a rough day yesterday; my mind was far too preoccupied for my own comfort. So, i went out to self-pacify (which i RARELY do.) the next morning, a friend of mine woke me up far too early…especially after having a glass of wine the night before (yes, I am a lightweight.) Not to mention, when the alcohol wore off and I woke up from the wine coma at 2am, i continued to toss and turn. the call came in a few hours after, “TEADOUGH! can you do me a HUGE favor?! I bought a chest from CL and he’s already here and I’m not home yet!!! Can you go outside and let him in & help move the chest in the house?!’
I still had sleep in my eyes and my voice hadn’t warmed up yet; i sounded like i was just hitting puberty. i wiped the sleep from my eyes, rolled out of my bed (literally), put shoes on and headed out the door with my unbrushed teeth (also known as ‘dragon breath’) to let the man in.
As I opened the gate, I saw an elderly man sitting in his truck parked right in front of our building & I tapped on his window. I asked if I could help him move the chest in. but, he said he’d rather wait until my friend got back to give her the opportunity to check it out to ensure she’s comfortable with buying. a man with integrity.
So, i ended up waiting outside with him and we struck up conversation.
you see, he recently lost his wife late last year. he started to tell me the story of how they met – and not in this ‘i’m so sad’ kind of way. to the core, he loved this woman. he was a “reformed” bachelor and just went about his life. he went to a party one night when he saw his future wife standing across the room. though she caught his attention, he wasn’t interested enough to pursue as he was keeping to his new “reformed bachelor” status. Now, I’m not going to try to re-tell the details of his story as it would never do him justice. Just know there was a tail of she chasing him, moving in next door to him and eventually courting & getting married.
the details of the story were amazing in itself. but it was more about the way he told the story. you could see love radiate from him when he spoke of his wife, their life together and what she brought out of him and to him. the only other time i had ever seen love in one’s face, in that way, was when my mom would talk about my dad.
“she was amazing. I don’t believe in ‘soul mates;’ everyone uses that term. but she was a damn good team mate; we made a GREAT team together – a great team in life.”
he talked about how she loved antiquing, how they traveled together and how their relationship was nowhere near perfect (no relationship is.) “she would make these little mistakes like forgetting to do the banking or spend a little too much. but all she had to do is look at me and…that smile. she’d always own up to any mistake. i loved that about her.” it was the way they lived life together.
he told me of how she fell in love with a house in the Richmond that was far too expensive for him at the time ($24k) but she just loved it. “It was more expensive, at that time, for me. but her eyes lit up and she just fell in love with it. so, we bought it.” it is the same house he lives in to this day.
i told him that he was inspiring and how i hope to find and grow into that kind of love. he told me he was lucky. “I see all these 30 – somethings walking around the city with their faces in their phones on their way to work and so worried about their own world that’s all they see & they end up alone. i never wanted to get married. but [getting married] was the best decision of my life. i wanted to court her because she didn’t want any children. we, now, have 2. I would have to go away for work for months at a time. she stayed home and took care of our 2 children; she never complained. I would always tell her, ‘i miss you’ and she’d always respond with, ‘i miss you more.'”
he then proceeded to tell me how his wife was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. “she was so strong and never complained through the whole ordeal. i’d take her to her chemo and she was tired and i knew she was in pain, but she never complained; not once. towards the end, we moved her downstairs. moving up and downstairs got too difficult for her. we (family) took turns sleeping with her downstairs. on her last day, i held her hand as she started to leave. her last words to me were, ‘i miss you more’.”
i told him i was sorry for his loss and what he responded with is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. He told me, “you know, we all lose people. it’s a part of life and it is always difficult. what’s more difficult is losing someone you choose.”
i hugged him as he was leaving and i told him i wanted to spend more time with him. i intend to do just that.
it’s so hard to explain the fact that i saw love on his face. i can’t even put words to serve justice on how it felt and what i saw and I know I’m leaving out tons of details… His impact on me was love and the reminder that life throws a lot at you – some expected, most unexpected and that it’s a privilege to have someone stand by you through it all.
and get this – he goes by the name “Tea.” Crazy.