One of those milestones is occurring soon.

The birthday of my husband and our anniversary (the same day) is approaching. George has been gone six years now, but many events during the calendar year are reminders in ways large and small of the man who captured my heart so many years ago.

I don’t need the reminders. They are there in the front of my mind and heart on a daily basis. But when birthdays and anniversaries arrive, something happens.

I was fortunate to spend a few days with one of George’s children, his granddaughter and two great-grandchildren recently. It was a needed reminder of how fortunate I am, even when I indulge in the pity party of missing him and feeling abandoned by his passing.

My relationship with his family, who welcomed me in their own way so many years ago, is a gift and connection to George I’ll have until I, too, pass this earthly shell. Our family is just as dysfunctional as the rest of the world’s families, but we found our way to each other and hold on to each other today.

Getting married on his birthday was his idea. At the time I remember suggesting we leave that day to celebrate his birthday alone. He said he’d had a lot of birthdays already, and besides, what better present could he receive than me?

When I remember that conversation, it’s one of the clear, precious moments that pop up out of the blue at odd times. It probably has something to do with the fact that in the same conversation his repeated proposal included the best of all reasons we should marry – I was taller and could reach all the top kitchen shelves so he didn’t have to get out a step ladder. That one sealed the deal; he got his “yes” and the wedding on his birthday.

Our time together was filled with normal, everyday stuff. We had good days and bad. We had one thing I remember and truly miss. Lots of laughing. Our interests that coincided made those interests more fun. Our independent interests were always supported.

Yeah, we got on each other’s nerves. Who doesn’t? When Alzheimer’s disease descended on us, it was a body blow. No one is ready for this, or any other disease or situation that takes a loved one. Watching him struggle as he lost the memories of those he loved most and pastimes he could no longer recollect or engage in was heartbreaking.

But the gentle, kind part of him remained until the end. Somehow, even when he no longer knew my name or our relationship, the light in his eyes when he saw me was there for all to see.

Not long before he stopped verbal communication, I walked in the nursing home with our two dogs. He was in the common area. He turned and saw the commotion of the dogs trying to get free to run to him. He looked up at me and smiled and said “here comes my bride.” One of the staff looked at me and started crying. So did I.

Happy birthday, George. We miss you.

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