*My dad read this yesterday. It was simply amazing.
It is 10:00 p.m. in the early 1990’s at our home at 11101 N. Ann Arbor. The telephone: RING, RING, RING.
I was working in the oilfields in Liberal, KS. We did not like being separated, but Barbara was determined to pursue her career as an elementary school librarian. She loved books. She loved children. She loved children’s books. Working for an oilfield service company, you weren’t going to be home much anyway. She had decided not move to Kansas, but stayed at home and became one of the kindest, most dedicated school librarians ever. The library at Eastside Elementary was in poor shape; not enough books, old worn out books, little organization and no inspiration for reading. The school was in a poor neighborhood. Barbara applied for grants to buy books, poured over book reviews, set up reading programs and arranged visits by celebrity guest readers and authors. But most of all through taking a loving interest in the children, she turned that little library around. Not a glamorous job, but one that needed to be done. Barbara always did what needed to be done. That library was her source of inner pride. She could have moved to a school closer to home, but that was her library. It wasn’t about the Barbara who had always followed her big sister. It wasn’t about the Barbara who had always followed her husband. It was about the Barbara who always followed her Jesus.
So I worked away from home. At that time, 15 days on and 5 days off, 24 hour call.
The last day on - we went off call at 12:00 p.m. If I was not on a service call that last day, you can believe at 11:00 p.m. I was on the road for the 4 hour drive home. I could not wait - for morning to get home to that sweet, gentle lady.
We were separated this way for several years. We made up for time apart on my days off by taking short trips - often to such exotic places as Canadian, Texas to see the certified largest cottonwood tree in Texas and drive 20 miles down the caliche south river road to visit the old Mobeatie jailhouse museum, or to the beautiful Kansas flint hills to see the Cottenwood Falls courthouse and its spiral staircase allegedly carved from a single walnut tree and visit the Knute Rockne plane crash museum.
We went bird watching together. Not too exiciting? Well have you ever seen a male painted bunting singing from the top of a hack berry tree in the morning sun. One of gods purest singers in a most dazzling feathered array of purple head, red orange breast and iridescent green back or the brilliant crimson flash on the head of the tiny ruby crowned kinglet. We shared and cherished those moments. She loved God’s beauty on display.
We had been dating for a short time when she invited me to her parents house for a dinner. She made a from scratch, roll your own crust, peel your own apples pie. Fruit pies were my favorite dessert and this was the best I had ever had. My mind was set, a pretty girl with the fringe benefit of those pies for life.
Did my best to charm that girl; even took her and her little brothers Richard and John to the Rush Springs watermelon festival.
Barbara, like eating those pies, our life together has been delicious, but now the plate is empty.
You are not - here; no more pies, but I just can’t wait to see you again.
Oh, yes the telephone. We would call and talk on the phone to stay in touch, but we couldn’t seem to limit our conversations and in the time before cell phones and unlimited long distance we didn’t think we could afford the extra charges every night, so most nights I would call and let the phone ring 3 times, hang up, wait a minute and Barbara would call back and let my phone ring three times. RING, RING, RING. Our signal.
I , LOVE, YOU! Good night - my dear, sweet wife.