Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Tearful Goodbye

It's been interesting, now that Spouse has been placed under Hospice Care at the nursing home, to see which friends of his have been coming to visit &/or call him. A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting two of his old Army buddies, friends he'd met way back in the late 60's, while stationed in Germany & Vietnam. I'd heard about one of his pals, "BC", off and on, over the past couple of years, when Spouse would open up about this escapade or that. We've exchanged Christmas cards and Spouse has yakked with him a few times this past decade, but I never realized how deep this friendship went until this past couple of days.

When I emailed "BC", to let him know about Spouse's condition & prognosis, the first thing he did was call me to find out if he could visit Spouse. Of course, I gave him the go-ahead, and he set his travel plans in place. He then got busy contacting a network of old wartime companions that Spouse had not heard from in years. These are friends that Spouse once kept in touch with, but had lost contact with, sadly. It's been nice for Spouse to get phone calls from these old & dear friends, especially those who have been "lost" for a few years. A few have sent cards and some have emailed me, so I can print up their messages and deliver to Spouse. These gestures have given a boost for my husband's stamina and attitude, something which I really appreciate.

While he was en route to come visit Spouse, "BC" stopped in Pheonix to meet up with another old Army bud, "T". The two of them continued toward our area together and were able to surprise Spouse, even trying to pull a funny prank on him when they arrived. Spouse knew "BC" was coming, but he was totally surprised to see "T" had gone to the trouble and expense to come along. The prank kind of failed, but it was funny, nonetheless. Something about "T" coming into the room behind "BC", wearing a doctor's smock, a stethescope and a ugly face mask, with rubber gloves on and telling Spouse it was time for another BOHICA *bend over, here it comes again* test. Spouse got 'em back good though and offered to drop his pants then & there.

The guys had a good visit, took Spouse & me out for dinner the first night, then they followed me to Clark, where they had a couple of rooms reserved. They did pretty good, keeping up with me on the muddy shortcut, but decided to go the longer route yesterday, when they went to visit Spouse again. I let the guys have the day to themselves and planned on staying home & maybe doing a bit of housework and relaxing. I got a call in the late morning, from Spouse, who informed me that they were coming to the house... surprise! It pissed me off, at first, mostly because I was still in my jammies, hadn't begun any of the housework yet and I was ashamed of how bad I've let the housework go these past couple of weeks. So I hung up on Spouse and jumped up to get busy. Thank God for Lysol spray, Swiffer mop thingies and scented candles! I managed to sweep & mop the floors, get a load of laundry in the washer and got some counter space cleaned off before they arrived.

Of course, they said they didn't care about how the house looked, but maybe they were just being nice. I usually don't care if someone's house is messy, especially if I know their plate is full, but I do care about what folks think about how my house looks. Am I whacked or what? They stuck around for about an hour, until Spouse said he needed to go back, because he was feeling sick. He collapsed on the deck, as he was exiting the back door, but I was holding one of his arms and was able to help him "fall softly", so that he didn't get hurt when he landed. His buddies carefully lifted him to his feet and we got him to their rental van.

It warms my heart to see these grown men, all so strong and macho in their youth, treat my husband with such gentleness and respect. They didn't bat an eye, when they saw Spouse pack a couple of extra "Depends" in the pouch on his walker. They freely gave me hugs and made every effort to include me in the conversation. So, this morning, when they had to say their final goodbyes, and we all know this is the last time they will be together as a group, Spouse was shaking and trying, in vain, to avoid tears as he thanked them for coming so far, just to see him. I looked at "BC", who was biting a trembling lip and blinking back tears, as he reached to hug Spouse, for the last time. "T" was doing a bit better at hiding his emotions, cracking a silly joke one last time, but I was able to recognize this as a facade, a brave face. His eyes spoke the truth, even though his lips were smiling, as they began to pool up a bit.

After they left the room and headed for the parking lot, Spouse broke down and cried in my arms. It was such a touching farewell and it made me think about these grown men later, when I'd gotten home. They have been friends since 1968, longer than some of my blog friends have been alive. That's 39 years of knowing and caring about someone who fought many of the same battles. Their post-army days took them in different directions, different occupations, but they remained friends all of these years. I cannot imagine the memories they share, but am feeling very, very fortunate to have witnessed this kind of friendship in my lifetime, even if it was something of Spouse's to have and not my own. I am even more in awe of the man my husband is, has been and will continue to be, long after he has passed.

Perhaps he is not as famous as your average movie star, the best politicians the world has known or some of the more memorable legends we all hear about, but he has touched the lives of so many different people in this world. This special visit of his friends helped me to understand the depth of how wonderful my beloved truly has been and continues to be. One of his more favorite quotes has always been, "I ain't much, but I'm all I think about." When he asked me to marry him, I had no idea that I was committing myself in marriage to a living legend, but that is a truth none can deny. Yes, he had his character flaws, but the qualities far outshine them. Ask anyone who really knows Spouse. I'm betting they'd kick the ass of anyone who declares anything different.

Blessings to "BC" & "T", for taking time out of their busy lives and work to bring some joy to Spouse. I salute you both.

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