02 December 2011

An Open Letter To My Wife

Dear Becky –

Shortly after my father died a few years ago, you posted an open letter to him on your blog. Recently it came to me that I wanted to write a letter to you and put it there as well. At first, I was not sure what I wanted to say. I could tell you how much I loved you, and love you still, but we said this often and you know it very well. Then something occurred to me that I don’t believe I did say to you nearly enough: “Thank you.”

Thank you for sharing over 33 years of your life with me in marriage. For allowing me to spend my life with you and for our most important joint work together: Two brilliant and beautiful little girls that have now become two brilliant and beautiful young ladies.

When we married, your mom said to me, “Well, Mike, your life will never be dull.” Truer words were never spoken. Thank you for all the fun. You once gave me a card with an appropriate picture on it that was addressed to me with the words, “From a high flier to feet-on-the-ground.” I think that was one of your favorite cards that you ever gave me. And I have come to realize even more, now that you have moved on and you are flying higher than ever, how much fun you created just by being you. With Becky around, flying so high, and holding onto her balloons with one hand and onto me with the other, even a stodgy old feet-on-the-ground guy like me was dragged along into new adventures of all sorts. Thank you for that.

But maybe you needed my role as an anchor for you as well. A couple that you and I came to know as friends just this last summer commented to me after you left us that they were really impressed by how well you and I “fit” together. With people, I am not sure that opposites attract so much as that they complement each other. I know you completed me, and maybe I did the same for you. You probably would say so.

Thank you for always supporting me in virtually everything I ever suggested we should do, even when it meant totally re-arranging our life together. You almost always said yes in the little things. But you always said yes in the big things, too--always ready to go along and always totally supportive.

When I suggested that maybe we should move from Dallas, Texas, to Huntsville, Alabama, where I had a great job offer, you said this would be fine if that is what I thought we should do. You totally supported this, even though we were moving away from a place where you had good friends and quite a bit of your family. As it turned out, we ended up driving to Alabama separately. You told me later that as you were driving out of Dallas, a place where you were always very happy, the radio started playing “Let's go to Luckenbach Texas with Willie and Waylon and the boys.” At that point, as it really hit you that we were leaving, you watched the Dallas skyline receding in the rear view mirror with tears streaming down your face. But despite this attachment, you had never hesitated for a second to sign up and go happily with me to a new place. Of course, that was not the end of your story. The very next song was the group Alabama singing “My Home’s in Alabama.” And you took that as a sign that we were doing exactly the right thing. And that made you happy again. That is so Becky. So much my Becky.

Another time a few years after we moved to Alabama, you came home one night to find me lying on the picnic table in the back yard, staring at the stars. Naturally, you asked what was going on. I explained with a lot of indecision that I was considering resigning my job at the company where I had a great salary and a lot of security and a nice recent promotion. The new opportunity would be helping to cofound a tiny high risk startup company that would mean very long hours and very low money, and it could very easily fail completely (as most of them do). So this was definitely a scary proposition. Your response was almost instantaneous (and you liked to quote yourself on this for years afterwards): “Let’s go for it!” You even quit your own job and joined us as our office manager and bookkeeper. That was quite an adventure, wasn’t it?

Thank you so much for your unfaltering and enthusiastic support in these things and in every big decision we made. I don’t think most people are lucky enough to be always given the gift of that kind of absolute support and confidence from their life partner.

Your constant example taught me so much about how we ought to be living our lives, even if I seemed to be resisting some of this a lot of the time. Beside our front door up in Tennessee, I recently noticed a small colorful notice that says, “Peace to All Who Enter Here” that you placed there a long time ago. But you didn’t put that up there just because it was a cute thing to do. You really meant it. You--with your bumper sticker saying “Teach Tolerance” and another one with a big equal sign and another one that says “Namaste” on it—you believed in these things, and you lived the example that our daughters and I saw in you every day. It was not just words with you, although you certainly had the conviction to say the words, too, even when facing people who might not agree with you. Your friends, and especially all your relatives, know that! Thank you for that example.

A lot of these things, I did not appreciate as much before as I do now. I should have, but I just did not see all of them as clearly. There was often no need to push myself along some of these paths because all I had to do was to hold your hand and be dragged along to fall into the right place.

Even when you became sick, your positive attitude never failed. Your doctors all loved to see you because of your fantastic attitude and because you cheered them up. When we were doing those all day long medical visits, during our lunch break you would suggest we go to a nice restaurant. And despite everything, you would be upbeat; and we would have a great lunch and really enjoy spending the time together. That bubbly personality and virtually perpetual optimism carried all of us along and supported us all. These last few years could have been a lot harder, but you made it so much easier for everyone around you. Thank you for that gift, too.

Just about two hours before you finally left us, as you sat up in your bed, you spoke in a cheery and very casual voice to someone I could not see. You said, “OK, let’s go!” You said it twice, a minute or so apart, and you spoke in a much clearer stronger voice than any other time in those last two weeks or so. I was confused at the time, but you weren’t. Now I understand that someone had come to get you, and you were ready to go with them. And now you are on a new part of the journey without me. Temporarily without me.

From the beginning of our lives together, you and I never talked in terms of “Til death do us part.” Instead, our way of referring to our love was “Forever and always.” We both understood that this never meant there would not be other people entering our lives. Certainly when our children arrived, we loved them at least as much as we loved each other. There is always enough love. But this understanding of our permanence meant that, whatever else might be added to our lives later, our own bond would never ever be broken.

The last text message you sent to me on your phone was from the Vanderbilt Hospital in response to something I had written saying I would be back to your room later. But now I think your note had a double meaning—one that neither of us understood at the time. Your very last message said simply, “I will wait for you.” I know that you want me to get along with my life here, and I have been doing that, and I will continue to do so. I intend to keep trying new things and building new relationships and growing. And I know you would totally approve and encourage all of that. But I also know that eventually, in some way, we will be coming together again. And I know that you will be waiting for me. Thank you for that, too.

You were always unusual, so sparkling, and so very special. I always knew that about you, even before there was an “us” when you were just my sister’s pretty college roommate. But I see it even more clearly now than I ever did before, and I appreciate it even more.

Thank you so much for agreeing to share your life with me, darling, and for our two wonderful daughters.

I love you, Becky. Forever and always.


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Anonymous said...

thank you so much for sharing your love story with us all.....it binds us all together in our quest for one more post from Becky....she will always remain in our hearts....Namaste

glynda said...

What a wonderful love story - Mike, we "knew" about you but now we really "know" you - and what a joy to know that we will all be reunited with our sweet Becky!

mecookin said...

Thank you, Mike, for sharing your love and life with Becky. I'm sure that anyone that ever met Becky knew she was the one flying high and you the one with your feet on the ground. You definitely complimented one another!

MyBecca said...

This is so beautiful Mike. Thank you for sharing your love. I loved her too and I miss her so much, every day. Blessings and peace to you and your beautiful daughters. Rebecca

Daphne said...

Dear Mike,

Thank you so very much for sharing the final medical update and this beautiful open letter. I miss Becky every day, and your words help me to remember that she's still very much with us.

Just in case you did't know, if you look in the Blogger functionality, you'll see that a blog can be printed as a book.

What a lovely story of Becky we have here!

You and all of your family are in my thoughts.

All best wishes,

Daphne, a fellow Dish Diva

Marcia said...

Thank you, Mike, for sharing the details of Becky's illness and for sharing this beautiful letter with us. My Christian belief system tells me that somehow, Becky can read or feel your words and would echo them to you.

My heart cries for you and your daughters, but your optimism makes me feel that everything will be alright. Many of us have read about how proud Becky was of you and the girls, and now I see why.

Why not be Becky's guest blogger and keep us updated on your life? You have an outstanding way with words, and I know your notes would be interesting. You could even post a recipe of Becky's occasionally. Please think about it!

With sympathy and very best wishes,

Craig Miyamoto said...

That is beautiful, Mike. I envy you your love for Becky, and will strive to emulate it in honor of you and her.

~ Craig Miyamoto

Bevlove said...

Mike...this is one of the most beautiful love letters I have ever read and I could tell it came straight from your heart.

I've had the pleasure of knowing Becky and spent a wonderful day with her and another friend in Huntsville, shopping and riding around in her convertible. What a fun day that was!

She will be sadly missed, but I know she is "flying high" with all the right people.

Beverly McDaniel Upchurch
Brentwood, TN

Anonymous said...

Mike, what a lovely tribute to your wife! She was was a loyal and generous friend to me for more than 12 years and I miss her so much. We had lots of fun together at the various HLCCA conferences over the years. You called Becky "bubbly" and that is a perfect way to describe her. All my best you and the girls....and your extended family as well.

Peace- Dennis Stasiak
Toledo, OH

Annie said...

Beautifully said, Mike. Darling Becky touched so many lives and is alive in each of us that she loved and touched. I think of her daily with a bit of sadness, but mostly with joy for all the vitality and laughter she brought to my life.


Cora @ Cora Cooks said...

Mike, though Becky and I only knew each other through our blogs and emails, she was so warm and friendly, I felt as if I'd known her forever. And through her words, I came to know you and your daughters -- and her illness. The day I found out she had passed, my heart ached for your loss and for ours. Her gift for writing, her joy for life, her love of family and friends and her incredible optimism remind me daily to give and receive the same love and happiness to my own family and friends. It also does my heart good to read your letter to her. How very fortunate you both were to share your lives. Thanks so much for allowing us to see her through your eyes. I wish you and your girls comfort and peace.

Cora Sedlacek
Carbondale, IL

bamadisher said...

Thank you, Mike, for this tribute to Becky and your love and life together. We were "dish buddies" for many years and I met you once when I visited in your home. Thank you again for sharing this wonderful letter.

Sandy said...

This is the most beautiful Good Bye I have ever read or heard Mike....I did not know your wife, but she was a very lucky woman! Until you meet Becky again...God Bless you and your family.....

Ces Adorio said...

I have been thinking of Becky this week. I was talking to my friends about Fiesta and told them I knew a lady who was like the dean of Fiesta, she taught me so much not just about Fiesta but also dishes and dish collecting. I miss Becky. This world is a better place because she was here. Tsup!

martinealison said...

Très jolie publication... tant d'amour...

Je vous souhaite un très joyeux noël à vous et tous les vôtres ainsi qu'une heureuse année 2013.

Gros bisous.

helenko said...

I haven't been back to this blog for a long time...... Mike, your letter touched me very deeply.I came here today because even after all this time, Becky is still the second most often commenter on my blog! I got to thinking about her & thought I'd see if her blog was still around.....

I really loved Becky & I miss her so often - especially every time I go by the corner of Drake & California Streets - where I would turn off to come to y'all's house. I didn't get to see her very much ever in person - the last two times were accidental and probably 2 years before she passed, but I started reading her blog after she first commented on mine.

There's so much I want to say but I tend to ramble on too much so I'll just say thank you for being her wonderful, adored husband & sharing her with us.

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Marcheline said...

I just found this blog through a Google search for "Wilendur lobster tablecloth". I've found one I've been thinking about buying - and found Becky's post on her beautiful lobster tablescape, which she wrote back in 2011. Then I clicked to see the most recent post, and read your letter, and what happened to Becky. I never knew her, and until today have never seen her blog, but just reading your letter to her has been such a blessing to me. My husband and I had just been sending texts about how lucky we are to have each other, and hard times we've been through together, and then I found this letter. I'm so glad that you and she had - have - that magic. It's a real miracle, that kind of bond. Thanks for sharing.