Mama graduated high school on the East Coast in 1962. She'd been an "army brat" and moved around a lot growing up. She then enrolled in Dominican College -San Rafael, CA.
Dad graduated from St. Joseph's in 1960. After a year or so at Cal-Berkley he realized he needed to be doing something else. He enlisted in the Navy. There he graduated top of his class and got first pick of specialties. He became a radioman on the USS Nathaniel Greene, one of the first nuclear submarines.
Back in San Rafael Mama became friends with a fellow student named Judith. They were fast friends. Soon Jude was telling Mama about Jude's brother who was away on a submarine in the Navy and could really use a new pen pal. Mama obliged, and there starts the fairy tale...
They were married on October 18th, 1969 in Washington D.C. That was 39 years ago today.
Dad went back to school and followed his new found interest of physics and chemistry. Mama became a teacher. (At one point Mama took a chem class from Dad at UCSC. He told her she had to follow the same rules as the rest of the students: help can only be given during class time and office hours. Though cuddling at night would still be appreciated.)
They bought their first and only home in 1978. They paid $42K for it and didn't know how they were going to make ends meet. But they did. They always pulled it together. Dad worked for AT+T teaching physics, and mom taught at the local high school. They were good together.
When I was in 6th grade Dad was laid off from his job though. He was devastated. Mama took up the slack while dad took a year or so deal with new depression. Just as Dad started getting a handle on things again, Mama was getting tired. More than the usual. And her ankles were swollen. She wasn't worried about it, just bothered that her ankles looked chubby. She eventually saw a doctor and mentioned it. A simple urine test confirmed that her urine protein was through the roof, indicating her kidneys were damaged, thus causing her ankles to swell with the fluid the kidneys weren't able to clean out. They eventually learned that the Amyloidosis had attacked her kidneys, and would slowly move to the rest of her organs.
Dad always felt bad about not getting another job right away. I thank God that Dad took the time he needed, because his biggest and most important job was just about to surface: taking care of Mama. And he did. There was such little known information about Mama's disease. He didn't want to waste any of Mama's precious time. So they went to the Mayo clinic--to the very best for a confirmed diagnosis. From there, a referral back to Stanford would start them on their path. Dad did research day and night. Reading the most recent medical journals, the very latest, cutting edge treatments and findings. He'd report back to the doctors and THEY'D ask HIM what the next step should be. And Dad would tell them.
Mama trusted Dad completely. There were many times when Mama didn't want to know what was going on. She couldn't handle any more. So she'd go in for the lab work and tests, and then sit in the waiting room while Dad and the doctors talked in the exam room, carefully crafting the next step.
I am so moved by the love they had for each other. Dad without a clue how to cure his wife, but a love and dedication that rose to the top. And Mama, scared to death, but trusting her husband to take care of her and her life's fate completely. When she couldn't hear any more of the results, she would turn it over to him. She knew he would make the very best decisions. I love love love that I was blessed into this family, and am a product of this love.
By October 2006 Mama was at home and fading fast. I absolutely believe she held on long enough to NOT DIE on her wedding anniversary. Although she wasn't eating any more by then, I still made them a nice anniversary dinner. She was roused long enough to acknowledge what day it was, and smiled. She made it through the 18th, and 25 hours later she was gone.
This is the kind of love that fairy tales should be made of. Not heroic or flashy. Just humble and modest and honest.