It has been five months since my beautiful, Beth, went to heaven. Each day I think of another story and another hundred reasons why I want you to know about her. I thought of this story earlier this week and it tells a lot about how much she loved me.
My father and I didn’t have the best relationship when I was growing up. My parents were divorced when I was eleven years old and after that time, I was never alone with him, one-on-one, until I was in my thirties. I didn’t see him much when I was a kid. Really, the only time I did see him was when I rode my bike to his dental practice after school. He was usually busy seeing patients, so he would often say, “here’s a couple of bucks go buy yourself some baseball cards.” I didn’t want his money; I wanted him.
The truth is I had forgiven my dad a long time ago. I actually felt sorry for him because he missed a lot by not being with his own family while we were growing up. My adopted sister, Dawn, is every bit as much my sister as my two biological sisters. She didn’t want anything to do with my dad’s second wife because she always thought of our mom as her only mom. She never wanted to have two families, so she didn’t particularly enjoy visiting dad and the woman who gave her up for adoption. He divorced his second wife after ten years when he discovered she was having an affair with a neighbor. He later remarried for a third and final time.
As I got older and after Beth and I married, I had a deep desire to reconnect and get to know my dad better. It seemed he was still uncomfortable with the thought of being alone with me. Beth decided she was going to solve that dilemma. One day we were visiting my dad at his home in South Haven, Michigan, which was located right on Lake Michigan. Beth, my dad, and I decided to go for a walk on the beach. We walked about a mile when Beth said she had to go back to the house and she took off running down the beach and left my dad and me alone. It was awkward at first, but then the conversation got easier. We walked and talked and then walked and talked some more. Before we knew it, the sun was setting. We got home after dark and after that day, my dad and I grew very close. In fact, whenever we visited him, he always wanted alone time with just me.
My dad contracted Hodgkin’s disease in his fifties, but it went into remission for over fifteen years. Twenty- one years ago, he and Sally came to visit us here in Pennsylvania and we could tell he was not healthy. His cancer came back and took him to heaven twenty years ago in May of 1996.
I was able to fly to Michigan periodically to take him for some of his chemo treatments and help care for him. One day I looked at him in the hospital when he was really sick and I asked him if he wanted to continue with the chemotherapy. He shook his head no. I told the doctor we were done and took him home. Before he died he told me one of his biggest regrets was divorcing my mom and leaving his kids. But he told me how proud he was of me and that he was so glad that we became close. I told him that it was because of Beth. He told me that marrying her was the smartest thing I ever did.
My dad was crazy about Beth, but then again, everybody who knew her felt the same way. She cared deeply and loved intensely. How could I ever repay her for helping me find the relationship with my dad that I had always wanted? I can’t and I couldn’t.
However, I can write about Beth and tell you just a few of the reasons why I loved her and continue to love her so much.
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