The Name Game

Why do women change their names when they marry? It’s not that a husband has power over his new wife but on the unity of marriage. In the words of English jurist Henry de Bracton, a man and woman become “a single person, because they are one flesh and one blood.” By early 17th century, William Camden, an Englishman wrote, “women with us, at their marriage, pass into their husbands surnames and justly. For they are no longer twain (two) but one flesh.”
I recently remarried a wonderful man. It gives him great pleasure and pride to call me his wife, Mrs. Davis and vice versa For you ladies who have recently married, you will appreciate the red tape and hoops that need to be hurdled in order to change your name!
My new husband and I decided to make a day out of it. Once we had the certified license, off to the Social Security Administration! The clerk at the courthouse suggested the Winterhaven office, so that was our first stop. The line of people was out the door, probably 15 people deep. Inside every chair was occupied with more people.
As we approached the security guard, he looked at both of us and said, “get in line outside, and I’ll call you in when it’s your turn.” I tried to ask a question to which he replied, “I said get in line and I’ll call you.” I was incensed, and Roger wasn’t happy with his response either.
We stood outside for less than five minutes. No offense intended, but there was only one other person in line outside that spoke English. Roger couldn’t stand it any more and went back inside to talk to the less-than-friendly security guard. After a few minutes, he came back out with an application and said, “let’s go. It will be at least 3 hours before we can get in.” So we left and enjoyed the rest of our day.
I overheard several people say that they had made reservations, so I called the local SSA office to make an appointment. Unfortunately, name changes don’t warrant an appointment! Roger had the bright idea of getting to the SSA office 20 minutes early to get a better spot in line. I arrived on Thursday morning at 8:40, and I was number 51 in line!!
The security guard in Lakeland was just as pleasant as the one in Winterhaven. Since the office only seats 40 people, only the first 40 were allowed in the building. I struck up a conversation with a few people in line who told me to be prepared to wait at least 3 hours. I explained that I only wanted a name change so that I could get my driver’s license. Two ladies in line said I could get my driver’s license without a SSN name change, so off I went to the DMV.
It was about a 20 minute drive to the DMV. I walked in and spoke to a very pleasant young lady and explained what I wanted to do. Well, don’t you know the laws changed in 2010, and you must have your name changed on your SSN card! So another wasted trip, and I drove home. Oh, and you have to bring 5 documents along with the SSN card in order to get a new driver’s license.
On Friday, I decided to try again. This time, Roger dropped me off at the SSA office at 8:30 a.m. I managed to be in the top 40 in line! On this morning, we had a new “Barney Fife” in charge of security who only let 10 people in at a time. I was the cut-off point – aaarrrggghh!
Once inside, I had to sign in at a kiosk. I had to guess at answering the questions, and thankfully guessed right. “Barney Fife” walked around the office twirling his keys around his finger and feeling so powerful. I managed to stay calm and collected for the next 15 minutes. Finally, my number was called. Thankfully, I had a nice young man who processed my paperwork. He took my old SS card, gave me a receipt and said I should receive my new card in 10-14 business days. In the time it took me to process, Roger had just returned home and now had to come back and pick me up. I sat in the bus stop by myself waiting. I at least had the first step accomplished.
About a week later, I received my new SS card! Hallelujah! Now I have to endure the DMV, with my five documents, hope I have a good hair day and get my new driver’s license. Once that is completed, I will begin the process of changing the bank accounts, vehicle registration, utility bills, credit cards, insurance policies and anything else that my name is attached to! Wow . . . the list is exhausting when I think about it.
Why do I do it? Call me old-fashioned, traditional. I do it out of respect for my new husband. I do it because we are now one flesh, heart and soul. I do it out of complete love for my husband, my partner, my best friend, my life.

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For RPD

For 7 long, lonely months my only solace was writing.  In that time, I wrote a book about love and loss.  My purpose and message was to inspire others to chase dreams, pursue meaningful relationships and love fearlessly – with heart and soul.  It wasn’t until I met you that I realized that the message was for me.

On March 8, I met you and you provided a little spark that was so desperately needed, a start to a new chapter in my life.  Your eyes, smile and strong, rugged hands mesmerized me as you built my log cabin.  I hid behind my sunglasses all the while watching you.  Ani-Tsalagi broke the ice between us.  In April, we started seeing each other.  On May 4, you walked into my house and never left.  You have been by my side, supporting me and loving me with your heart and soul ever since.  You’ve put a smile on my face, brought laughter to my days and a reason to love life again.

We’ve been through a lot in just 10 months – building a relationship, building a log cabin, selling a house in Riverview, packing and moving and living in temporary housing and now a marriage – our love and our “peas and carrots” relationship kept us together.

You’ve made me the happiest woman in the world, and I am so grateful that you came into my life.  Our rings were selected with purpose.  My engagement ring has two diamonds — “one for your best friend, one for your true love”.  My wedding band has three rubies — your birthstone — and another two diamonds — my birthstone.  Your wedding band has three diamonds — my birthstone.  I proudly and happily take you to be my life-long partner, my best friend, my true love, my husband. 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning says it best:

            “How do I love thee?

            I love thee to the depths, breadth and height my soul can reach.

            I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears of all my life.

            And if God choose, I shall love thee better after death.”

RPD, I love you with all my heart and soul, ‘til death do us part.

Greatest Valentine’s Day Gift

Valentine’s Day was always our favorite holiday of the year. My husband loved pampering me with gifts, flowers, romantic candle-lit dinners and always – cards. Some of my most cherished poems are written inside my Valentine’s Day cards. In one of our more penny-wise years, he hand-made a card out of a brown lunch bag – “love in a plain brown wrapper”.

I still have the first Valentine’s Day gifts and card he gave me – a coffee mug adorned with red hearts and “I Love You Today, Tomorrow, Forever” and a little cow that plays a lullaby. Some years he gave me tulips which we planted in our garden to enjoy each following spring. Some years I received roses or chocolates, and one year he surprised me with diamond earrings! But for every Valentine’s Day, he put so much thought into the cards, poems and gifts because he wanted to absolutely delight me.

Last March as we sat on our patio enjoying time together, he looked at me dismayed and very apologetically he said, “I’m sorry we didn’t have a romantic Valentine’s Day.” I told him it was the best ever, and I proceeded with the story.

I said, “I wore red, your favorite color for me, and the Three-Hearts brooch you gave me years ago. I sat at your bedside clinging to your hand and kept talking to let you know I was there. Around 11:00 a.m., Jeri stepped into the room, and your face lit up. At noon, two more visitors arrived. Despite the two-visitor limit for ICU, the nurses were compassionate and let all four of us stay in the room.”

I continued, “The other visitors were Pastor Dan and Elder Bob. Pastor Dan pastor pulled out a bottle of Zephyrhills pure spring water and proceeded to baptize you. Bob anointed you with frankincense oil, and we all joined hands and prayed for God’s merciful healing.”

At that point, tears were streaming down John’s face. He looked at me with his hands raised towards heaven and said, “Finally, I am a Child of the Most-high God!” You see, in all our years together, he had expressed his desire to be baptized. But like so many of us busy with life, we didn’t make it a priority.

Finally, last year on Valentine’s Day, John received the baptism he had always wanted. And even after our many romantic dinners, kisses, thoughtful presents, and cards, this turned  out to be the greatest gift either of us could have asked for – a gift that joined our souls even more completely than before.

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This Gift I Give To You From Me

In this season where many spend countless hours trying to find that “perfect gift” for friends and loved ones, I want to share a beautiful gift that my dear husband shared with me. It wasn’t wrapped in pretty paper or a beautiful gift bag, but it was written from his heart and soul. It’s the reason for the season, love . . . true love. It’s the greatest gift you can give.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you share.

The presents are all opened from under the tree,

But there is still one more to you from me.

It can’t be wrapped with paper and bow

To hide its beauty so it won’t show.

For it shines brightly for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

I guess I should tell you in case you don’t know

That this gift is forever and each day it grows.

It grows bigger and stronger for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It’s like the bright sun at the breaking of day.

It guides my path as I search my way.

The direction it shows is plain to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It guides me to happiness, to love I’d never known.

It takes me to worlds I’d never before been shown.

What is this gift? I know you easily see,

This gift I give to you from me.

This gift is my LOVE, every ounce I have to give.

I pray that you will take it so that I may live.

My most precious possession, I hope you can see

Is this gift I give to you from me.

Please take my heart, my soul and my love.

Wrap them in your arms as gently as a dove.

Merry Christmas, my LADY, with true love from me.

This is the gift I give to you from me.

Remembering . . . Can Be Inspiring

Remembering is painful, it’s difficult, but it can be inspiring and it can give wisdom.” ~Paul Greengrass

A friend of mine suffered what I believe is the absolute worst nightmare for a parent – losing your child. It’s been over 19 months for her, but her heartbreak and struggle continue even to this day. Three months ago, I, too, suffered a tragic loss; something that I never imagined.

Jean was the first person to reach out to me and provided the greatest gifts – a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy, the gift of her time. She invited me over for lunch. She let me cry on her shoulder without giving advice and instruction. She bought chicken soup over which we cried more and let grow cold. She disclosed that most friends and family eventually became weary of her grief funk and slowly distanced themselves from her. She confessed that she used to be “one of those people” – she avoided the griever because it was too uncomfortable — until it it happened to her.  Their tears continued, they didn’t smile even after months.  “Stop it already”, “be strong”, “get over it”, “get professional help” is all she could think.

She told me that well-meaning people want to fix you. Some will try to label your grief; after all, if it is correctly diagnosed, then there is a solution, right? Some psychiatrists and counselors have identified “stages of grief”; unfortunately, they aren’t linear. She told me you won’t move from one to the next in a nice step-by-step process. Or like C.S. Lewis describes “am I going in circles, or dare I hope that I’m on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down?”

She shared that the one and only thing she wants to do is talk about her son. She wants to tell everyone she meets about her son. She wants to remember all 28 years of his short life. Despite the pain that remembering brings, it provides comfort to share because she remembers the beautiful person he was while he was here. She told me that some choose to forget or not acknowledge because it’s less painful for them – “out of sight, out of mind”.

I am experiencing everything she shared with me like it’s a well-scripted play. Like her, remembering John is not an option; it’s a conscious choice. I remember my gorgeous husband, my friend, my companion and my soul mate. I remember because we were blessed with 20 wonderful years together; to not remember means these years didn’t exist. I remember the beautiful memories we created together which motivate me to write. I write because I promised to share our love story. Eventually, I will share our story because we want to inspire others to pursue their dreams and make them reality.

My request, if you have read this post, is that you develop empathy, not unresponsiveness.  The greatest gifts you can provide to someone like me and my friend are a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy and the gift of your time.

Elliott Was Right . . . It Didn’t Rain On Our Wedding Day

On Sunday afternoon, September 8, 1996, John and I visited Nancy’s Secret Garden in Key West.  It had been raining most of the day, but we managed to find a break in the weather early that afternoon. We parked and walked through a small alley and then through the gate.  We walked into a tropical heaven.

There was a lady, her hair in a long braid cast from back to front over her left shoulder.  She was talking to a beautiful white parrot inside a large bird cage.  Nancy introduced herself to us – Nancy of Nancy’s Secret Garden.  She seemed delighted we were there and gave us a personal tour of her garden.

Not far into our tour, the rain started up again, and Nancy invited us into her home.  Me, John, Nancy and Elliott (her companion) sat on their screened porch, and we listened to her story.  Nancy’s grandmother brought her family to Key West with a vision to start the garden and get away from the “concrete jungle”.  She mentioned that some people have weddings in their garden.  “In fact”, she said, “we have a wedding here tomorrow morning!”  John and I smiled; we were the couple getting married.  She and Elliott grinned from ear-to-ear.

I think Elliott could tell by the look on my face that I was distressed by the rain as it continued to fall.  Elliott looked at me and John and said, “Don’t worry about the rain.  It has never rained on a wedding yet.”

We stayed for a little while longer waiting for the rain to subside.  Nancy and Elliott said they couldn’t wait to see us tomorrow.  And again, Elliott reassured us, “it’s not going to rain on your wedding.”

Our beautiful wedding day is best described in John’s lovely poem.  And Elliott was right after all – it didn’t rain on our wedding.  Happy anniversary, my love, my angel.

“I awoke to the sound of rain.  Oh, Lord, please not today,

For I’ve finally found love; this is my wedding day.

I gently eased back a curtain.  The sky was but clouds and rain.

I saw the look on your face as your tears slowly came.

“Perhaps, it’s not meant to be” those words I heard you say.

“It’s very bad luck to have rain on your wedding day.”

“The rain will go away,” I said, “just you wait and see.”

“It’s only Angels crying, happy for you and me.”

We slowly got ready, remorsefully drive in the rain.

We even drank some wine to try and ease the pain.

But as we reached the Garden, the rains began to slow.

We started feeling hope, but, how long, we did not know.

I looked up above to see the clouds part

As if someone had cleared a spot to join these two hearts.

The bouquet in the cottage brought a smile and then a tear.

I knew from that moment that all would be well from here.

We said our wedding vows as the flowers glistened in the rain.

I gave my heart to you as we became one.

We walked among the flowers, you, the most radiant of all.

As the angels held the rain away for not a drop on us did fall.

I never thought about angels, but I know that day for sure

That we have one watching over us because our love is true and pure.

I ask our Angel every day to keep you safe for me.

To help you with all you do and try to be patient with me.

I ask our Angel to let you know how much you mean to me.

To tell you how much love I have to give to my “B”.

Our Rings

“You Spoke To Me Through Mary”

Every day I talk to you. As hard as I try to listen, but I can’t hear you speaking to me. Today was different, because you spoke to me through Mary.

The first time I met Mary was when she, Brian and Zack and eight others came over to clean our yard on August 15.  Today, Mary, Brian and Zack came back to help paint a few rooms.

They stopped at Panera Bread before coming over, and Mary asked me if I wanted breakfast. I asked for a breakfast sandwich of some kind, not picky. They arrived around 9:30 a.m., and we ate in our kitchen. As I was eating my egg and bacon sandwich, she handed me another bag. She said, “we decided to get you something sweet, so we got you a cinnamon bun.” I choked back the tears and told her that was our favorite pastry when we used to go to Panera.  Brian said, “See, John told us to get the cinnamon roll for you.”

Mary and I took a little break mid-morning.  She mentioned that she tried to find my “beapositive” blog. I asked her how she knew; she remembered from Pastor Dan’s message last week. I also asked her to read our book that I’ve started.

As Brian was cleaning up the paint brushes, trays, etc., she and I sat in the kitchen and talked. As the morning passed, she must have sensed that she needed to share something with me. She had a dream a few weeks before she met me.  A dear friend of hers went to heaven sometime in July. This is how I know that you spoke to me this morning.

Mary says she has very vivid dreams. In this particular dream, her friend whispered in her ear, so close that Mary could feel her breath. She said for whatever reason, she smelled some kind of mint. I believe it was wintergreen, the flavor of the Altoids we have in our car that we’d eat to cover up coffee-breath. She told Mary, “you are not going to believe this place when you get here. It’s more beautiful than you can imagine.”  Then her friend beckoned her and said, “I want to show you this house. Follow me.”

At the house, the first thing she saw was a waterfall.  Where the water spilled into the stones were black pebble stones. She said when I turned on the waterfall on August 15, the first thing she saw were the black pebble stones.  I remember when  you wanted to add black stones where the water fall, and we bought them at a local nursery.  You placed them with your hands at the bottom of the waterfall.  She immediately called Brian over and said, “look at the waterfall and the black pebble stones. . . just like in my dream.”

Waterfall with Black Pebblestones

Waterfall with Black Pebblestones

The second thing she saw in the dream were little elephant statuettes standing around her. She said it took her breath away this morning while we ate breakfast. Over in the corner on our kitchen counter she saw three elephant statuettes just like in her dream.

Elephant Statuettes

Elephant Statuettes

The third thing that convinced me you were speaking to me was the phrase she used to describe our love story. She said the way I have weaved our memories and your poetry is like a “word dance”. At that point, I took her into our music room and showed her the pictures on the wall. The first one is a couple dancing in the rain on the beach that we bought together.  I am the lady in red dancing with my Prince Charming. The other picture was a Christmas present to you from me, “Dance Me To The End of Love”.  We used to dance in our living room.  Although we can’t physically dance together right now, our story is our “word dance”, a beautiful love story with your poetry and my stories about our memories.  I know you gave her the phrase “word dance” to share with me.

Dancing

Dancing

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I thank God that Mary, Brian and Zack are in our lives. Mary said, “I am your connection to John right now. He is speaking through me so that you know how much he loves you.  He is waiting for you.”

My heart aches beyond words can describe every minute that I’m awake. I only have peace when I write about us, so I continue to write our beautiful life. I love you and miss you more every day. But today . . . you spoke to me through Mary.

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