The fourth of July weekend is here and if Otto was with us, he would be 69 next week. Two years ago this week, we were frantically going from doctor to doctor to find out why he didn’t feel good.The cancer word was being whispered.
Last night, I watched the clouds form. I sat in my chair, listened to the crack of thunder, watched the lightning, and counted the seconds between lightning and thunder.
I talked to him. If he were here physically we would have an upstairs apartment and he would be watching the storm. When I slipped onto the balcony with him, I would snuggle under his arm and we would watch the storm. I was safe there.
I was the gloomy one– the Eeyore. He was the one who knew how to smile at life’s idiosyncrasies. At the very least he always had a quip on his lips. I had heard most of his jokes — he cleaned them up in polite society, but when he was with his buddies, he had some of the funniest and dirtiest jokes around. I didn’t see his pranks, but I heard about some of them. Let’s say that there was a little bit of Loki in him.
He had to be more circumspect when he worked for the State– which is why I didn’t show this photo of him joking around an outhouse while he lived. Still this shows his spirit and what I loved most about him.
Funny– he had a hard start in life. He was a preemie and almost didn’t make it. He spent most of his young life in foster care. He had to learn how to take care of himself at a very young age. He was my light in a very dark world of chronic illness.
So I miss the door opening around five-ten p.m. in the evening. We also greeted each other with a kiss and a hug. I miss the smile, the jokes, and even those days when he couldn’t even muster a smile because his day had gone badly.
I miss his quizzes. He was a master at electronics and used to teach it in both the Army and the Navy. But mostly he was the one person in my life that saw me as worthwhile.
A strong man. A kind man. And sometimes a scary man.
He was a Vietnam Vet– and he did know how to protect us.
As I think of him today, I don’t want to cry and wail. I did that for months after his death. No, I want to smile. I want to remember his jokes and his joy. I want to remember that he loved me so much. I want to remember his bravery and his willingness to poke at the bear when she was grumpy–