Friday, December 25, 2015

Ruth, December, 1958

This is a picture of my late wife in December of 1958, when she was 7 months old and visiting her Grandfather Decker for Christmas.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Two Years

This coming Thanksgiving Day will be the second anniversary of the death of my wife, Ruth Decker Tabarez. We were together for 23 years, and were married for 21 of those years. I would say were were pretty happy overall and we laughed a lot during those 21 years. 

Now it's almost exactly two years since she has been gone. It has not been easy but I have struggled to endure. It really knocks the wind out of you when you realize that the perfect one, who you loved more than anything is not coming back, ever. You just don't know what to do, so you find things to do. You try and glorify the memory of that person. You reach down and pull something out of that bag of love that was filled over all those years.

I know that Ruth would laugh at the idea of me leading children's tours at the museum but I also know she would be proud. I know that she is there with me and that she guided me to the museum somehow. I don't really believe that very much, or I never believed it before, but I guess I believe it now. Two years ago when she left I wanted to die too. 

Now I know there is so much to live for, so much work still to do, and so many lives to touch. I forget about that sometimes. I forget that I have been given blessings all through my life and I continue to get them every day. Ruth and I met in law school and one day they talked about "wrongful death lawsuits," and someone pondered why there were no "wrongful life," lawsuits. Here's the reason why those lawsuits don't exist.

It's because life, any life, is better than no life, that is a fact. I have been sad but if I had missed these past two years it would have been a shame, in addition to being sad. So I continue, I persevere, because I have life, a heart, and a mind, and I also know one thing for sure, even if I don't believe in ghosts and guideposts.

She would just be so upset if I wasted the rest of my days, so I cannot and will not. I am overjoyed that my little sister has found love again and it has touched her heart. I wish I could tell her that but all I can do is cry right now. For joy and for sorrow. It's unfortunate but to really know one you have to take hold of the other one, but again you survive.

So for everyone who is hurting, I hurt for you. I stood under the Eiffel Tower on my 24th birthday, and I thought about the freedom that had brought me to Europe as a soldier, and it made me have a better understanding of what that freedom really means. It's not free, it never was, and never will be. Blood has to be shed in order for freedom to continue. I just wish it could be different but it cannot.

So I will continue to sit here by the ocean, watch the water move back and forth to Hawaii, and keep on going. It's all we can do really. I will smile at my neighbors and roll on the floor at the museum to make the kids laugh, and I will feel as though I have turned a corner in some way. Two years. Amazing. It's like she has never been gone from my heart, not even for a second.
Ruth, Doris, & Esther

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In Case You Were Wondering

I am taking a break from writing on these blogs while I research and work on launching my new website. I thank you for your patronage and look forward to speaking with you again soon. Hang in there people.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Right From the Afterlife

For a while you are going to feel like everything your wife ever said to you is right. It is. While this might have been annoying while she was alive, it is positively creepy when it happens after she is dead and buried, or burned as was the case with my late wife. Again this plays off that freedom thing.

I remember that one day I wanted spaghetti for dinner. I had not had it while Ruth was sick for the last 11 months of her life, so I thought it might be nice for a change from Burger King. I went to the store and like a zombie I picked up the same spaghetti and sauce we had eaten once a month for 23 years. I did it automatically.

After I had the stuff in the cart I started wondering about the myriad of sauces on the shelf and I thought to myself that  since Ruth was now dead I could get any sauce that I wanted. But which one to get? I finally decided on a sauce that was peddled by a cute woman who was a bit chunky for television but was still very cute. Her face was on the label and everything.

What was bothering me was that I seemed to remember my late wife mentioning something about the spaghetti sauce but I just could not remember, what it could have been. I paid for my stuff and went home and fixed spaghetti for dinner. I heated up the sauce with the face of the chunky girl from the television, and it smelled very good. When it was all done I assembled it along with a nice roll and some very nice grape Kool-Aid.

I took a bite and it tasted like something in-between tomato sauce and ptomaine. Suddenly, my late wifes' words came rolling out of some old memory banks and I remembered what she said in one second. It was so simple. Ruth said:

"We don't get that kind of spaghetti sauce because it sucks and you don't like it."

That was it. That was what I could not remember and now would never ever forget again. I scooped the whole thing into the garbage can, hopped in Ruth's car, and sped to the nearest McDonald's, while blasting her favorite song. Just slightly creepy to say the least. Do yourself a favor and try and eat well.Try getting food you don't order from a clown's head or a donkey's hindquarters. Your arteries will thank you some day.






Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mr Happy

As I have mentioned in this series before, you have an extreme amount of freedom now new widower, to do whom and what you like, whenever you would like to do so. It's a pretty heady feeling to realize that you are responsible only to yourself now. No more better half to remind you why she's the better half, so get used to it.

My sweet sister-in-law, as I have mentioned previously, gave me a nice book written by a woman whose husband had died suddenly and young. It was a nice book and all and it really went over a lot of stuff that I was going through and had gone through. But it was missing one thing,

Penis thinking.

OK folks we are all adults here and the word penis should not send us running for the hills screaming bloody murder. A lot of the population has them, so everybody better know a little bit about that particular part of the male anatomy. I don't know if women have the same thing but I do not believe that they do because, I don't know, just because.

Anyway the thing is that the average male penis thinks it is part of the cranial portion of the anatomy. It thinks it is residing somewhere between the cerebellum and frontal lobe, and as such, should be allowed into the decision making process for everything. What we wear, what you wear, what we see, and what we definitely do not see, are mostly ruled by penis thinking. 

The most obvious and easy way to prove illustrate this point is to look at any 70's to 80's jillionaire, who is right on the verge of rigor mortis, and what do they have attached to their wheelchair? That's right, a large blonde who you would swim toward if the ship was going down because those pontoons are never going to sink. 

In any case, here is the deal. You can go out and start banging everything and everyone in sight. That is your right. After all, you have been married for 21 years and she's dead, and you did not kill her, and it all seems good. Except for that new first time. 

Remember the first time?

Because guess what new widower? There is going to be a new first time for you if you decide that you want Mr Happy to now play on the neighbor's Slip 'N Slide. Are you ready for that? I know you think you might be ready but chances are that you are not. I know the first time I even spoke with a woman after my wife died I drove her away in about 5 minutes.

So here is the thing new widower, take your time, there is no need to re-marry your living ex-wife, your high school girlfriend, or that stripper from Reno. Mr Happy is going to try and convince you otherwise as is his wont. But remember, Mr Happy is not in your brain but in some other place that has no brains. So before you do something stupid like catch HPV, just forget about Mr Happy until a long time has passed. 

Because even brainless Mr Happy, knows when its too soon.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Widower and the Candy Store

If you are reading this it's because:

1. You are lost and meant to find another page

2. You are bored out of your skull and will do anything to avoid working.

3. You are a man whose wife has died, and who has not remarried.

If you meet these criteria, and even if you don't, then you are in the right place. If you are still confused, ask yourself these questions:

Did you have a wife who died? (Preferably not by your own hand) 

Did you remarry?

Again this information is specific to widowers but anyone who is going through the grief and pain of losing a loved one is also invited to read on. For some reason it hurts less when I laugh, so I try and laugh, and write when I can. Also, this is a place for men who loved their wives. If you are happy she's gone, go read something else, somewhere else. 

During the 93 days I had a Facebook account I learned a lot of things about friends and family that I not previously known. I heard about births, deaths, tragedies, and just every kind of message that could be conveyed from one human to another human. It was very illuminating. I tried it for 93 days because my late wife Ruth said that if you really want to know if something is for you, then try it for 90 days to see if you like it. 

One of the things I discovered is my 20ish nephew Ramon apparently does not know a female who owns any sort of wearing apparel other than a bathing suit of some sort. I remember those days, before being married, when every woman I knew owned at least a few bathing suits, but most of the time none of them would let you take their picture in the suit. 

The other thing I noticed is bathing suits have gotten incredibly small during the time I was married to my late wife for 21 years, and together for 23 years. Young women are also now much more likely to post a picture of themselves in a bathing suit on various social media outlets. Some even send the photos in themselves, seeking, I don't know what really.

As a husband I had heard tell of these women, and I was fascinated by the idea of such women. Now that I am a widower I am allowed to actually look at pictures of such women. Nay, these images are fairly shoved at me at a time when even glancing at another woman brings a bit of guilt with it. I tell you the life of the widower is filled with fun situations that you never thought you would ever have to deal with.

It's like this.

You live next door to a candy store. You live there for 23 years. For 21 of those years you own the house. Throughout those 23 years, you have been told, reminded really, to stay away from the candy store. You were told that the candy store was a place where people who ate the candy got sick and died. So you watched people go in and out of the candy store to no seeming ill effects, but you stayed away.

Then one morning you wake up, walk outside, and on the front of the candy store is a sign and in big red letters it says:

"Under New Management."

You as a new widower, who is also "Under New Management," meaning yourself, are curious. It's to be expected; you are a human man. You are also an idiot if you think you are ready to get married to a stripper from Elko named Rowena, 6 months after your wife of 21 years died. This will not only assure that you are going to die alone, you will also have no money either.

The first year after your wife dies, don't do anything drastic. New haircut OK. New stripper/hooker/hot mess girlfriend, not so much. Guitar lessons OK. Sipping Jack Daniels from a dominatrix shoe, probably not a good idea. I think you get what I mean. Everyone else who is letting Mr Happy do the thinking for you, well good luck with that. For the first year after the death of your wife, change nothing but your underwear and socks, and save yourself a lot of trouble.



Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sharing a Coke

Sometimes sorrow will come in the mail by accident. Do not let these cosmic disturbances ruin your day or your progress.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Someone cue Lulu

"So how do you thank someone/who has taken you from crayons to perfume?/It isn't easy/but I'll try......."             


Lulu



Ruth Decker-Tabarez, Wedding Day, 1992

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Memorial Service and the Lie

Today's Topic? The Memorial service.

Again, female spouse, still? Ruler of the house, still breathing?

Welcome to that express train through your newly widowed psyche, called "Widower 101."

Voltaire once said:

"One owes respect to the living: To the dead one owes only the truth."

My cousin Arnold, one of the kindest, wisest, most incredible men I personally know said this:

"Your wife will not care what sort of funeral she has. The ceremony is for those of us still living."

Amazingly good advice tendered hundreds of years apart.

And there you go.

When it comes to the memorial service, if you loved your dead wife, it's really your last chance, now isn't it, new widower? It's probably the only chance you will be able to speak to a group about how much she meant to you. So plan the memorial service with care, new widower.

Not for yourself either.

I mean your reason for existing is dead and you are basically dying every day in three-quarter time,  so plan that ceremony carefully, because there are people out there who need that sucker. Think of the mother, father, brothers and sisters, loved ones, and what they might be feeling.

They may not want you to put that plastic box in a paper bag, shove it into the closet, and then go drink yourself to death. Those people are going to need “closure,” whatever that might be, and so do you new widower.

So. Do. You.

Because the missis, died 2 days before Thanksgiving of 2013, the families decided we would wait out the holidays and have Ruth’s memorial service on Valentine’s Day of 2014. When I say family, I mean Ruth’s sister Esther; Ruth’s little sister, her only sibling.

She and I decided together, as a family.

I spent the holidays giving away toys to charity, donating Krispy Kremes on KVTA AM1590 in Ruth’s memory, making memorial collages, and losing my mind. I also began to prepare for the greatest performance I would ever give in my very limited acting career.

I worked on my routine for Valentine’s Day like a Swiss man making a clock. All the parts of the memorial service have to work precisely and somehow on that day, it all came together. 3 months of work really paid off. And it was all real, done with real love, except for one small lie.

To all budding theologists out there who believe there is no small or big lie, only small or big sinners, I say this: When your wife of over 2 decades dies on you, you will say or do anything to protect her memory. Lying even, if necessary.

Most folks, who actually know me, know I have been in plays and such, starting when I was 9 years old. In my lifetime I have been in the play, “A Christmas Carol,” twice. Once as Tiny Tim, the other time, as his father Bob Cratchit. I was quite the dickens as a child, I must say.

Also, I always put the script away first.
So when my better half stopped drawing breath, I immediately decided I needed to memorialize that relationship between my wife and her little sister, Esther. I knew the way instantly, and I picked up the book and read, re-read, and remembered that ultimate tale of faith. I wrote the words down, in big letters, on a piece of paper, I carried with me. I taped the words on the computer monitor.

I began to live and breathe those words.

And I took a picture of them, in my mind, just like with all the scripts I had read in the past. So on the day of Ruth’s memorial service, I talked about her sister, and she. I called them “Tom and Jerry” and “Frick and Frack.” They were really best friends forever, sisters, for real.

During my little talk up to this time, I had been holding a clipboard, wearing reading glasses, checking my notes, but when the moment I had been planning since Ruth died had finally arrived, with a lie, I was ready.

I stopped for a moment, laid down the clipboard, took off my glasses, and touched my nose like E.G. Marshall did in “12 Angry Men,” after he realized she did wear glasses. Then I just opened my mouth and lied until the cows came home. 

I said:“It was that ultimate statement of faith, said by Ruth in her own book, but what was it?”

I seemingly could not recall. I closed my eyes tighter, and squeezed my eyelids tightly shut. Then I said: “Oh yes, I think I remember.” Like I was actually just recalling it at that moment off the top of my head. 

Then after waiting again, just long enough to make everyone in the room really believe, that I could not remember, I opened my mouth, and lied with these words, just like a good Catholic schoolboy.

“I think Ruth said. Intreat me not to leave thee, or return from following after thee: for wither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God;

Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: The Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” Book of Ruth, Chapter 1, verses 16-17. 

Since I had been memorizing it for almost 90 days, it rolled out of my mouth like sunbeams with crying attached.

But I did not cry.

I almost got thrown off for a moment, when I blinked and saw that the whole room was weeping, including Ruth’s mother, who had named them Ruth and Esther, as she mouthed the words she knew so well. Weeping for her own Ruth, now gone.

I shut my eyes again quickly, and finished.

So all you people who were there on 2-14-2014, I did not remember Book of Ruth, Chapter 1, verse 16 and 17 off the top of my head;

I was lying.

I did it for the mother and the little sister, that’s why I lied, and I would do it again tomorrow. I just wanted people to understand how much I loved her and why. It was my last chance to say how much, to the whole world if possible, that I loved her, and what her life was about.

She lived like her namesake from the bible.

That’s why I lied too, and I am not sorry really, and I never will be.

Because if there is one thing that I learned from my late wife is that not only will goodness and mercy follow you, it will wait patiently for you. Until that day you figure it out and head down the road, you should already be traveling on; no matter if you are Pastafarian, Frisbeetarian, or even American Baptist, as was Ruth.

It was the only road that Ruth knew and she is still travelling on it right now. I think she would understand that I did it because I love her. And she would forgive me. 

I mean, I know she will, when I see my heart’s companion again.

Because that’s just how she was.

The Sorrow Gauge

Along the way you are going to start wondering where you are on your widower journey. You wonder if there is some sort of way to gauge how sad you really are and how much farther you may need to travel on your personal sadness trail. Yes there is.

It's called music.

Music meant a lot to you when your wife was alive. There was the music that was playing when you first caught sight of her and your heart jumped into your throat. There is the music from the first time you danced together after she said "I do," and changed your life forever. There is her favorite song, and your favorite song that you always cringed to when she decided to sing along.

Music is all around you. It really is. Even if your whole life has been like "Till There Was You," from "The Music Man," up to this point, music can still gauge how well you are doing or how far you still have to go. Usually, I use my wife's favorite song but for this experiment I will be using the song "Part of You, Part of Me," by Glenn Frey, formerly and currently, of the Los Angeles California band, Eagles.

1. Get a recording of the song.

2. Get the lyrics, and have them close at hand. For those who can't figure out where to find stuff on this Internet, here is a copy:


"I felt it when the sun came up this morning
I knew I could not wait another day
Darling, there is something I must tell you
A distant voice is calling me away
Until we find a bridge across forever
Until this grand illusion brings us home
You and I will always be together
From this day on you`ll never walk alone
You`re a part of me, I`m a part of you
Wherever we may travel
Whatever we go through
Whatever time may take away
It cannot change the way we feel today
So hold me close and say you feel it too
You`re a part of me, and I`m a part of you
I can hear it when I stand beside the river
I can see it when I look up in the sky
I can feel it when I hear that lonesome highway
So many miles to go before I die
We can never know about tomorrow
Still we have to choose which way to go
You and I are standing at the crossroads
Darling, there is one thing you should know....
You`re a part of me, I`m a part of you
Wherever we may travel
Whatever we go through
Whatever time may take away
It cannot change the way we feel today
So hold me close and say you feel it too
You`re part of me, and I`m a part of you
I look at you your whole life stands before you I look at me and I`m running out of time
Time has brought us here to share these moments To look for something we may never find 
Until we find a bridge across forever
Until this grand illusion brings us home
You and I will always be together From this day on you`ll never walk alone
You`re a part of me, I`m a part of you
Wherever we may travel
Whatever we go through
Whatever time may take away
It cannot change the way we feel today
So hold me close and say you feel it too
You`re a part of me, and I`m a part of you"

3. Listen to the song. Follow along with the lyric sheet. 

4. You can determine just how deep your sorrow might be depending on where you break down during the playing of the song. If you start sobbing before the singing begins you still have a ways to go, and the further you can go without crying is the real test. Remember, and this is the most important thing, never listen to this song and then "Desperado," back to back. It may cause an emotional setback from which you may never recover. 

So listen to music. Listen to your favorite music. Listen to your late wife's favorite music. Listen to the music you loved together, even if it hurts. The hurt will fade and the love will remain, I promise. Listen to the music that she loved and see if you can find out why she loved it. This may be as difficult as determining why she loved you, but try. Also, for those keeping score, this song played over the closing credits for the movie "Thelma and Louise."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Love What She Loved

Ruth loved music. The Sound of Music, the Island of the Blue Dolphin. She spoke French and knew Morse Code. She played the violin and lived for her cats. Remember the things your late wife loved and see if you can love them too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Those Touching Deathbed Moments

If you and your soon to be dead spouse have the opportunity to discuss her death, just listen for the most part, that's all she really needs. You are just as afraid as she is but you will have the rest of your life to work it out while your wife is bereft of such opportunity.

However, when you have been a couple for 23 years and married 21 of those years, you fall back into old patterns. My late wife Ruth and I always corrected each other, no matter how awkward, or the time and place of the correction. We just wanted to be smarter than the other one every once in a while. It was a game we played all the time throughout our 23 years together.

About 60 days from her death we talked about my life and how it was going to change if she died. The thing is that all the way up to the last 5 days before she died, Ruth believed she was going to survive. She always said she was not afraid of dying but that she wanted to stay because she had so many things left to do.

So we are sitting together on my late wife's literal deathbed and she spoke of how she wanted me to be happy, and find someone, and share my life with them, like I shared my life with her. She said she wanted me to be the merry widow, and think of her now and then, and the times we had together.

I knew she got that phrase "merry widow" from reading the book "Love Story," and I think that she knew I would be unable to stop myself from correcting her. I think it was a test she was doing so she could see if I was going to be OK alone, after she was gone. I listened to my dying wife, while she was dying, I really did, but you would not think so because of what I did next.

I listened to my sweet wife of 21 years, who had lost her hair, been radiated and medicated to within a literal inch of her life, and generally felt like death on a soda cracker most days, and then I pounced. I just told  her it would be impossible for me to do any of the things she suggested. 

It was not because I loved her too much to go on. I do, but I also must go on. It was not because I would be broken in two. Which I am. It was not because she ruined women for me because there will never be another like her in my heart and soul. It was not because she was my love eternal. 

I explained that it would be impossible to be the "merry widow" as only women can be widows and men can only be widowers. She laid back on her pillows and fell asleep with a strange little smile on her face. I guess I passed the test.
Ruth Decker-Tabarez

Some days I don't think I can handle anything but the thought of my late wife being disappointed in me is also more than I can take. So keep on fellow widowers, keep on.

Revel

When your wife dies, it feels like there is going to be no more joy in your life. This is not true. True joy comes from accepting the truth and then moving forward from there. How one gets there is a wholly personal matter and it may take years before this feeling of joy returns to your life. So actively seek out joy. Watch funny movies, see your funny friends, laugh if you can. Your wife hears every laugh and she gets joy from that too. Your wife does not want you to be sad forever, even if you never stop loving her.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nomenclature

I think that I will begin this group of writing by discussing nomenclature. A widower is "a man who has lost his wife to death and who has not remarried." If this happened to you then you are a widower and are in the right place.

To the new widower I can offer this insight. It seems like the world has gone crazy. Yes it has. You feel like you are going crazy. Yes you are. How could you not be going crazy? You just lost your wife and you have no idea of what to do at this point.

Well, as I said before the world is crazy and so are you, and after a long, long while you will not be able to tell where the insanity of being on earth ends and your own insanity begins. Revel in this mix of emotions and feelings because it's better to have them than not feel anything at all.

Do something crazy, as long as you don't injure yourself or injure someone else. But remember this, you are really not crazy. You are just sad. Sadder that you have ever been in your life. Be sad. It's OK to be sad. Just don't do anything stupid no matter how sad you get. It's not going to help anyone, least of all yourself.


Why This Topic?

When I was on Facebook I wrote about my wife's death. My dear sister-in-law gave me a book written by a woman who had lost her husband at a young age and how it affected her life and actions. I liked the book but it was distinctly written by a woman, for women.

That was problematic for me.

So I decided to write a page regarding my wife and her death and how it changed me for both good and bad. I called it "Widower 101, or How to Lose Your Wife Without Killing Yourself." 

It was sad and funny, and a man who I don't know and who I have never met, sent me a message that said that he had not cried nor laughed, in the 5 years since his wife had died suddenly, and that reading what I had written helped him somehow.

I never wrote back to him and we did not become friends. He never "liked" me and I did not seek his friendship or approval. I just know that he felt what I had felt or was feeling and that brought us together for a moment.

Because that's really what life is. A whole bunch of random moments that fly at you like a jet plane sometimes. I don't know why but telling these stories makes me better, so I have decided to retell a few. Thanks for your indulgence and I love you Ruth. 
Ruth Decker-Tabarez, Wedding Day, 1992