My Dad died when I was ten years old. It was a hurt that has never left me. I especially recall how hard it was on my Mother. She was a young widow left with three children to raise on her own. Years later, as I was planning my life I decided to earn a PhD in English literature and teach at a small college. Being a scholar living only with books seemed like the perfect,safe life.
I am so glad that my plans were derailed for something infinitely better, messier, more complicated and more painful in the end. I met and married a cowboy from Wyoming. Our worlds were so different that he could have been from the moon.
We met in Germany where I lived for six years working as a teacher and counselor. My social group consisted of a lot of young people from different countries who had landed in Germany. He was part of the group and spoke English so well that I thought he was Swedish. Imagine my surprise when I learned that he was from Wyoming. His undergraduate degree was in English literature and he could talk iambic pentameter with the best of them! He was my Renaissance man with a love of learning that matched mine. We followed in the footsteps of the writers of the “lost generation” in Paris. We spent hours at sidewalk cafes, read their books and visited sites made famous by them. We dined at restaurants that Hemingway wrote about and ordered the same foods. It was a sweet, romantic life made even more so when he gave me “A Moveable Feast” by Hemingway which became the theme of our life: We could be happy anywhere as long as we had each other. Paris, indeed most of Europe, would stay with us wherever we lived.
We had thirty wonderful years. I did not want to be a widow. My Mother was a widow and I knew how painful it was for her. I was determined not just to survive but to thrive in my life alone. I wanted to set an example for our sons about how to deal with life’s heartaches and, I wanted my husband to be proud of me. I wanted to live a life worthy of him.