Thursday, June 04, 2015

Throwback Thursday: It was 50 years ago today

Today would have been Judy's and my 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a day we'd talked about a little and looked forward to a lot.  Judy had really hoped to be around for it, but it didn't work out that way.  She came up six months and seven days short.  

I haven't written much about her illness here because she didn't want me to.  She was a private person and stoic in facing her illness.  She was steel.  One day a few months before she died, we were talking about what might happen, and my voice cracked.  I probably had tears in my eyes.  Judy said, "Don't be maudlin.  If I die, I die, and that's it.  We've done all we can."   Steel?  Titanium is more like it.  Never once did I see her cry or weaken.  It must have been tough because she went through a lot.  Some of the chemo treatments were brutal, though I'm the only one who ever knew because to everyone else, she was relentlessly cheerful and polite. When ever anyone asked how she was doing, she'd always say, "Fine."  Nobody was ever going to hear her complain, except me, and that was the way it was.  I may have mentioned before that one of the nurses called me and said this about Judy: "That Mrs. Crider was always a lady, always dressed so nice, she never complained, not once."

The last week that she was in the hospital, I asked if she wanted to watch The Young and the Restless, and she said she didn't.  "But it's your favorite soap," I said.  "Bill," she said, "you just don't know how bad I feel."  That's a close as she ever came to complaining.

We dated (a quaint, old-fashioned custom, whippersnappers) for several years before we married, and in all we knew each other for well over 50 years.  That's a lot of memories, little things we shared that nobody else knows about -- jokes, trivial incidents, favorite songs and movies -- all things that nobody knows now except me.  Every day there's some little something that I want to tell her, that I know would make her smile, but that wouldn't mean a thing to anyone else.  

It's taken me a while to get used to being in the house alone, but I'm doing better at it.  It's taken me even longer to do other things.  We loved going to movies and for many years we went just about every week.  I've managed to get to one movie in the last six months and that was only recently (Mad Max: Fury Road).  I don't like going out alone.  I still haven't been to a restaurant alone.  Eating out was a lot of fun for the two of us.  It wouldn't be so much fun for just me.  I've been out with friends, and that's okay.  Sooner or later I'll make it out on my own, I think, but it might be a while.

What with my books and writing and the Internet, I manage to keep busy, and most of the time I can keep my mind occupied.  Distraction is good in cases like mine.  Sometimes grief sneaks up on me, though.  I have a feeling it's going to be doing that for a long time.  

When we were young and living in Brownwood, Texas, the local paper would often publish before-and-after shots of couples on their 50th anniversary, one shot of them when they were married and a current one.  Judy would often say, "We must remember not to do that."  So she's probably get me for this if she were here.   This is the closest thing I have to an "after."  It was taken in Sonoma in August last year.  I think Judy was as beautiful as ever.


If you think of it today or this evening, raise a glass to me and Judy on what would have been our 50th.  That will be our celebration.

28 comments:

Deb said...

Oh Bill--what a beautiful remembrance. Judy was obviously a most exceptional lady and I'm sorry you two didn't get 50 (or 55 or 60 or more) years together. Take care.

Jerry House said...

A beautiful tribute for a beautiful lady, Bill. Thanks for sharing.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

She was and still is a special lady....glass raised to both of you.

Tom Johnson said...

So sad that she left so soon, Bill. We can never know what's in store for us when we're born, we can just take life that's given us, and enjoy it to the fullest. Relationships today last six months, if that. Be thankful you and Judy had so many wonderful years together. God Bless.

James Reasoner said...

Judy was one of the most gracious ladies I've ever known. An old-fashioned term, perhaps, but it fit her perfectly. Stay strong today and all the days to come.

Scott Cupp said...

We are both missing her and sending you a virtual hug today from Sandi.

new improved gorman said...

What a beautiful piece of writing about a beautiful and loving woman. You were lucky, Bill, and so was Judy.

George Kelley said...

Diane and I have dinner reservations at our favorite local restaurant tonight. We'll raise our glasses in tribute to two of the nicest people we've ever met: Judy and you.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Beautifully said, Bill. We think (and talk) about you and Judy all the time. Jackie worries about how you're getting on. Those memories will always be with you.

When my mother died shortly after my parents' 65th Anniversary I knew my father would go on (unlike Jackie's mother after her husband died) because that's what we do in my family. It's good that you're getting out (like the trip to visit Angela and Tom) but of course it's impossibly hard. Next year will be 50 years since Jackie and I met and there are thousands of memories. One day at a time may be a cliche but it is the only way it works.

Jeff

Richard said...

Beautiful tribute, Bill.

Ben Boulden said...

To you and Judy, Bill.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

That's the sweetest of tributes, Bill. Thank you.

Richard Moore said...

Wonderful, touching tribute to a dear person. Like Jeff said, we think about Judy and about you all the time.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful piece. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think of you both often.

Steve Stilwell

Todd Mason said...

As happy an anniversary as possible, Bill, and I hope you can laugh at least as loud as I did reading it when you recall her admonition that you two should never do the photos "then and now" thing.

What everyone else said...thanks for letting us have a sense of this.

Mike Stamm said...

What they all said: a clear-sighted, honest, and loving tribute to not one but two wonderful people. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Tina Karelson said...

Thank you, Bill, for sharing your thoughts so beautifully on a difficult day.

Seepy Benton said...

You and Judy are one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever known.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

I am raising a glass and enjoying your memories. Over these many years I felt Judy was a good friend of mine because you talked about her so often. Thank you for sharing today with all of us. xo Terrie

William Seward said...

Not sure if "Happy Anniversary" is appropriate, but I do say we celebrate your anniversary, and honor your love story! Here-here! (Klink)

Bud said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks, everybody. It's been a bittersweet kind of a day around here, but I'm concentrating on the good things.

Max Allan Collins said...

Such profound thoughts simply stated. Such a moving post. I was struck by the things you and Judy did together, routinely, like eating out and going to movies, that are exactly what Barb and I do...and the thought of trying to do them alone is frankly bewildering. But what a great marriage. Happy anniversary, Bill. You, too, Judy,

Judy Alter said...

Bill, such a graceful tribute to Judy and such an honest look at your grief. Yes, going out to eat alone and such will never again be the same, but I pray you move on and keep up with your "distractions." The empty house, the single life is not the end of the world. Know how many of us respect and admire you--and remember Judy with fondness.

Cap'n Bob said...

I guess I'm a day late with this, although I made a comment on Facebook about the photo. But all I can do is echo what everyone else said. That was an elegant, moving tribute to not only Judy but to the timeless love story you two shared. I always referred to Judy was the Texas Madonna, and I don't mean the sleazy singer. I meant be beatific countenance, poise, elegance, and sweetness. Always kind and soft-spoken, always perfectly turned out. A lady in the grand tradition. And now we see that she was also as tough as a Marine. I admire the way you've gone on alone, although it must hurt every day to have to do it.

Talk to her. She's still there in every cranny of the house.

Toby O'B said...

I hope I could have her strength should it ever be needed. I'm sorry Judy had to call upon it herself. All the best, Mr. C.....

Peter Rozovsky said...

She may be gone, but I hope you can console yourself in a small way with the thought that you have many, many friends.

Johanna Hume said...

Bill, John and I raised a glass to you both Thursday night. You're in our thoughts. Thank you for the lovely post.