Adopted Sons

A few years ago, I wrote a piece on Adopted Dads, recounting the importance of having him in my life.  Well, I guess turn about is fair play.  He has recently started a blog and I asked if I could run part of it here:

Guest Blog by Mark Williams

Maurice Broaddus doesn’t need anyone to toot his horn for him; He does a perfectly good job of that for himself. Afterall, this is a guy who holds an annual convention named for himself. Mo-Con has been gathering horror authors together in Indianapolis for 5 years now. Maurice has been writing professionally for some time. His pontifications can be found on his blog, his reviews at Hollywood Jesus, and in columns for Nuvo among many other sources. He has had short stories, novellas and now novels published. I have had the privilege to watch his growth longer than most.

Maurice came into my life about 30 years ago. He was a studious 4th grader who took part in the Sunday School class I taught at the Eagle Creek Grace Brethren Church. The class was filled with a crew of enjoyable but rowdy boys. There was something about Maurice that drew me to him. He was polite, studious and eager to learn. He was new to the church and was just learning to fit in, initially quiet and a bit reserved. All of those qualities made me want to reach out to him, but it was more that. I felt a connection with him. God laid a burden on my heart to befriend this young man

Maurice has brought so much joy in my life. Before I had boys of my own, Maurice filled the place in my heart reserved for fatherhood. My wife and I would have Maurice over to our house sometimes just to play games in the backyard sometimes to spend the night watching movies. Over the years, we spent countless hours discussing a variety of topics finding mutual interests in comic books, horror stories, politics and most importantly the Bible. Maurice always amazed me with his thirst for knowledge. He was never satisfied with what he was being taught in school and he would go to great lengths to expand his knowledge. I remember when he was in junior high his complaining the school didn’t have a class in Latin available so he set out to try and teach himself Latin by checking out books in the Library. I also remember when he was in High School and he had to write a science paper and he elected to defend creation and argue against evolution, this done in public school. Maurice makes me proud. I watched with pride when he accepted his diploma at Northwest High School, married Sally, introduced me to his sons, took on leadership positions in his church and most recently gave me copies of his first published novel and the book of short stories he edited.
I like to think I have had some influence on Maurice’s life. I know he has had influence on mine. The most important part I played was introducing him to Jesus Christ. Maurice has remained faithful to God and has led others to the Lord himself and has counciled many in his various ministries.

I don’t get to see Maurice as much as I would like. He leads an extremely busy life and I too have limited time for social gathering. I read his blog, which is very well crafted and I heartily endorse for those who want well thought out discussions on the issues. He is certainly his own man, and where once before we agreed on most everything, Maurice now has formulated opinions I sometimes question. I have concerns about his judgment at times just like every father has concerns for a son who ventures in a direction where peril might lay. But my confidence in Maurice is not diminished. He has pursued his goals steadfastly and is now seeing the fruit of his efforts.

Maurice has become an accomplished writer. He has won awards for his short stories written a novella Devil’s Marionette and has co-authored the novella Orgy of Souls with Wrath James White and most recently signed a 3 book deal with Angry Robot a division of Harper Collins. The 3 books will comprise a trilogy telling the story of The Knights of Breton Court. Maurice has also edited, along with Jerry Gordon, an anthology Dark Faith for Apex Books.

He goes onto give his opinions on King Maker and Dark Faith.  But I’m not linking to him anymore if he’s going to keep posting old pics of me.  Sheesh.

Checking Back In (aka The Discipline of Being Present)

What we call “at least being there” as quality spouse or family time, they see as either just the back of our heads or just our eyes above the cover of our laptops as we write … I’ve promised to try to do better at being present with her and the family, learning to be in the moment and raising the curtain. It’s funny how any of us can be at home yet functionally absent, focused on whatever side project or work we’re doing.

As I reflect on that blog, I’m wrestling with how much of a multi-tasking society we are. We’re in a hurry to be busy, because as we all know, busyness is a direct reflection of how important we are. I know personally, if I can kill two birds with one stone—say listening to research for a novel while at work or getting some typing done while the kids watch television—I’m going to go it. What we often forget are the relational consequences of such things.

Part of it is because we don’t multi-task nearly as well as we think we do. Our concentration is divided, our focus is split, and things inevitably fall through the cracks. Part of it is we can’t multi-task relationships. When people are multi-tasked, they are getting the short thrift of things. I’ll tell you right now, if I were to get an iPhone, I would be checking out of many relationships. I’d be playing on that thing constantly. A date with my wife would be filled with me checking my Facebook. Time with my kids would be interrupted by my Twitter. Hanging out with friends would involve a lot of me checking my e-mail and miscellaneous surfing that I would justify by calling work.

Not that I’m much better without an iPhone. Sometimes it’s the side project that I’m working on or one last bit of work I have to finish an important phone call to squeeze in. There’s always something adding to the noise of our world. Not that a consequence of our technological ability to socially network is our increasing difficulty to socialize in the moment , but the sum total of the constant noise of our lives transforms and impacts our relationships. No one gets our full attention. I think of how we sometimes don’t see God through our multi-tasking haze. God does not hide and if He seems that way, it’s because He’s hidden in plain sight. We fail to see him because we fail to see Him or are otherwise attentive. We fail to be present with Him.

Is it our short attention spans? We just that bored? That impatient? That discontent? Or are we finding affirmation in our online noise, the re-tweets and the comments?

Nouwen believed that caring means, first of all, to be present with each other, ‘offering one’s own vulnerable self to others as a source of healing.’ One does not need to be useful as much as to be present.

We all want to believe that we are fully present with one another, yet I think of how many times our friends sat around with one another texting and IM-ing rather than being with the people in the very room with them. The first step to being a source of healing to your family and your friends is to be present, presenting your vulnerable self (think of it as a “living sacrifice”).

This is where we are. So during our family time, we have an interruption ban. No cell phones. No computers. As we attempt to be fully present with one another. If our families and friends are the most important people in the world to us, the least we can do is focus on each other as if they really are.

To Dream Egyptian Dreams

“Are they the ones with toilet paper on them?”

With that, the Broaddus clan began our trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for their “To Live Forever” exhibit. The idea of mummies has always fascinated me. Seeking the answers to questions about life after death produced a veritable death culture. So much of their life and thought devoted to their burial, funeral, and tombs, seeing death as an enemy which could be beaten (and to achieve success in an afterlife) with enough preparation. Their god Osiris, with his story of death and resurrection, foreshadows the Christian story that I believe in. All to fulfill a desire for eternal life for which they are remembered some 4000 years later.

As we studied the coffins, jewelry, vessels, and saw a lot of statues and figurines with curiously smashed away noses, I had to translate what my Egyptian funeral might look like to my six year old.

“It’s the equivalent of being buried in a tomb that looked like Jesus, though daddy would prefer to be stuffed and mounted in the backyard posed like Buddy Jesus. My internal organs could be cremated and put into jewelry to be sold to friends and family, amulets to protect them on their journey. Mommy would have to be buried with me. There would be no point in her going on without me.”

“What about us?” My youngest looked up with hopeful eyes.

“You’re boys. You inherit my kingdom. Now my staff (heretofore known as Team Broaddus) would get buried with me. On the plus side, they’d get nice commemorative statues of themselves. Our cat? He gets mummified to, though that doesn’t explain why he ran away. And I’d need to have a huge tomb, filled with cups and plates, so that we can keep the party going forever.

“By the way, instead of papyrus scrolls, we’d have the entirety of my blog preserved. Of course it will be dug up one day and used as the basis of a religion. After they smash the nose of any statue of me.”

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Let the Circle Be Unbroken

Family reunion season is officially over.

For the uninitiated, there’s nothing like a family reunion. Sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day, families come together to reconnect, give thanks, see how much folks have grown and changed, and sport color-coordinated T-shirts to symbolize unity and be family. And family reunions are also not for the faint of heart.

The Broaddus family reunions take place in August and food is the centerpiece of the family. True family reunion professionals know to fix their “to go” plates when they first arrive (put in the cooler you conveniently have in the trunk of your car) and THEN when you leave, too. Fried chicken, ribs, jerk chicken, green beans, chitlins, pork and beans, greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes. If it was once a meat, it got barbecued. And then come the desserts, as everyone lines up to show out their family recipes (my grandmother passed before telling anyone the recipe for any of her pies).

More importantly, family reunions strengthen the roots of the ties that binds us as family. We honor the patriarchs and matriarchs, remembering those that came before as a part of where you came from and the struggles we’ve come through. Our elders are the quality control inspectors of the family. They set the tone for conduct, and they teach about learning to love and respect one another, often putting their fragile health in jeopardy to attend. That example alones speaks to the importance of family reunions. And then I realized that I’m one generation away from being the patriarch of the family.

Sure, there’s the bickering, the gossiping, the politics, (uh, not in our family, I’m speaking about OTHER families), but it’s been wonderful seeing the play cousins we’ve come up with take the leadership roles in the family.

You can’t always choose your family, but you weren’t raised in a vacuum either. For better or worse, family has defined us. Besides, only at a family reunion could I hear from my cousin “I read you every week in Indy.com. I never knew you were smart.”

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Friday Night Date Place – Cutting the Apron Strings

One of the hardest things to do in our transition from child to adult is to establish an adult relationship with our parents. Life with our parents is an evolution of power: we come into the world completely dependent on them (and our parents know EVERYTHING); we start to make noises of independence and doing things our way (and our parents know NOTHING); and then we start to brave the world by ourselves (and our parents know SOME things after all).

Now that I’m a parent, it’s easier for me to look at things from a parent’s perspective. Like most parents, I worry about what kind of men they are going to be and how best to train them to be the kind of men they ought to be. It will be hard to let go of them, to get to that stage where I stop worrying, to stop thinking of them as my kid and let them be the adults they are one day supposed to be.

I changed their diapers, I wiped their noses, I kissed their boo-boos. I have planned for them, I’ve answered their (endless) questions, I’ve guided them. I’ve sacrificed for them and provided for them. Do I expect anything in return? Heck yeah, I want a payoff of my investment. I want them to become fully functional adults, prepared to go into the world and find their own way.

In other words, at some point you have to move out.

(In fact, now that my kids can tell time, I’m going to stick a counter on my blog as a continual reminder.)

Now, I’m not exactly sinless to cast any stones in this area. If someone wants to keep running after me to give me free stuff, I’m going to let them. However, at some point, certain ties had to be cut (right around the time I had to establish my own family and myself as the head of it, coincidently enough). And it was a painful transition period for me and my parents (read: mom). But it had to be done in order 1) for me to establish the direction for my own family, 2) for me to be seen as an independent adult by myself, 3) for me to be seen as an independent adult by those around me, and 4) to be seen as an independent adult by my parents.

You can’t keep living in your mother’s basement. Or your friend’s mother’s basement. Or otherwise sponging off people in your life because you don’t want to stand on your own two feet. I don’t know what it is about our generation, but a lot of us are taking longer and longer to, well, grow up. Maybe it’s because we haven’t had to. Previous generations have had Depressions and wars to define them, forcing them to grow up sooner. We’ve had MTv. But I’m strictly speculating.

Did I mention that at some point you have to move out?

I haven’t even gotten to the most practical lesson of cutting the apron strings. Control. Nothing is ever truly free. You think you get to live in a basement rent free? You think you get to borrow your parents’ car whenever you want, no charge? You need a temporary influx of cash, gratis? Besides being generally thought of as a loser by your friends, you have also given up control in your life. You are under a certain amount of obligation to live by their rules (their house, their roof, their rules). Each loan is another string attached to you. Call them “guilt lines” or “advance pay day guilt loans” and they will be pulled or cashed in.

Cutting the apron strings is a rite of passage, one that can be relatively painless (despite the occasional bout of empty nest syndrome) or messy (when folks finally have to kick you out). It’s best to take the reins of your own life and carve out your own direction, no matter how many bowls of ramen noodles you have to eat in the process.

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Mo*Con II Recap IV: On Family

Truth be told, I was quite nervous about Mo*Con II. I finally was able to pin down what was making me so nervous (besides, you know, Brian Keene being Keene). It was the fact that with Mo*Con II, my two families, my writing family and my church family, were coming together. And, you know how it goes when two sides of a family meet: you want them to get along with each other.

Friends are the family you choose. Talking to Alethea Kontis, I realized just how much this con was more of a family reunion than a con. Probably one reason that fuels why we go to so many conventions is to be able to maintain the friendships we have made despite the mostly solitary pursuit that is writing.

-Chesya is like the little sister who NEVER SHUTS THE HELL UP.

-Wrath is like the older, smarter brother who steals all of your girlfriends.

-Keene is like the older, smartass brother who likes to pants you in public.

-Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder are like the loving godparents who always have your best interests at heart.

Debbie Kuhn. Family. Alethea Kontis. Family. Gary and Nancy Frank. Family. John and Rebecca Hay. Family. Indiana Horror Writers. Family. Steve Shrewsbury. Family. And a great thing about family is that it is always growing. You feel me? Don’t make me get to preaching.

(No, really, don’t. I’m exhausted. I have to haul out a dozen trash bags worth of garbage still and then attend to my poor, poor carpets.)

P.S. Speaking of family, once again, I’d like to thank my wife who has the patience of a saint for allowing me to essentially hold a four day room party at our house.

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Update on My Sister (Ro) – Updated 6/11/07

[I know, some of you have been wondering and I thought this was easier than having to keep telling the same story over and over again.]

My sister, who has already had a pretty rough year or so, has been on hospital bedrest for the last month or so. Unfortunately, her daughter was diagnosed with hydrops, so the pregnancy has been a series of complications and emotional ups and downs. Yesterday, I got a frantic phone call from her telling me the doctors said they were going to do the C-section then rather than try to wait another week. Six weeks premature.

I got to the hospital a little after four o’clock, having just missed my brother. Most of my sister’s bridal party was there (look, she had 10 ladies in her bridal party, so the room was crowded, plus some family). Ro had called in her people to support her no matter what happened. Just so you know, Broadduses only know one way to grieve or deal with tense situations: joke. Our role is to keep the mood light and I have been especially “gifted” with the ability to laugh in inappropriate situations.

As we waited on Eric, her husband, to arrive (his work wouldn’t let him out early), we prayed. Upon his arrival, the doctors then filed in to deliver the news. They presented a series of options, all of whom ended with prepare yourself for the worst, mortality in this situation is expected, usually within a few minutes to hours. The lungs would be underdeveloped. There were a series of procedures they were going to attempt, including traeching her while she was still attached to her placenta. And, as a premature delivery, her small size would be an issue. Once the doctors left, Ro in tears, we did another round of prayers.

A few minutes later, the nurses and doctors came back into the room to wheel Ro out, but then they suggested that we pray. I was all prayed out, so a nurse/chaplain led the prayer this time. After than came the interminable waiting – every time the doors open or footsteps came from down the hallway, we looked up expectantly, waiting for any sign of hope. If you have seen the movie Rize, you may have a bit of an image of what came next. We heard the footfalls first, interrupted only by the occasional clap, then we saw Eric steppin’ down the hallway.

Yalaina Symone was born at 6:18 pm May 11th, 2007, at 6’ 8 oz. There were able to not only get some of the fluid off from her stomach, but there was no swelling in her head, so they were able to do all of their procedures they didn’t think they could get done. In under a minute. Her lungs are doing okay and she is on an oscillator (a type of ventilator) right now. For now, she is doing as well as she can. The word “miracle” has been tossed about, including one doctor remarking that “you’d think with all the stuff we see, we’d get used to the idea that there might be a higher power.” So we remain cautiously optimistic.

Please join in our prayers: That as we come to the end of our ability to control things, we know God loves us. So help us to trust in that, no matter what happens. We thank Him for that love and for His love reflected in our friends and family. We continue to pray for the doctors and nurses as they attend to Ro and Yalaina. And we pray for Ro, Eric, and Yalaina, for their health and for their faith during this time.

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Here’s what I said at Ro’s baptism (which was on Easter Sunday):

Ro made me promise not to say anything that’ll make her cry. That’s a tough promise to keep because she’s pregnant and hormonal. But also because I’m her big brother and she’s not used to me saying nice stuff about her. I don’t have a particular story as a testimony of her faith, but more of an observation.

One of the duties of the big brother is to protect his little brother and sisters. It’s the same duty we feel as parents. It hurts us when we aren’t able to shield the ones we love from harm.

As I’ve watched Ro’s life, sometimes life happens that is out of her or anyone’s control. She’s gone through a lot of trials in the last year or two. I hate that so many of our lessons have to be learned through pain, but there are several things she’s taught me during her trials.
-she’s taught me how to question God. When things started happening in her life and she didn’t know why, she went to God and wrapped her community of faith around her to support her when she didn’t think that she could go on.
-she cried out to God, kept getting on her knees to pray, even when times kept getting darker.
-she showed me what it means to be faithful in times of doubt and how to persevere when it would be easy to give up

She didn’t know what God was trying to teach her, but I know what her faith taught me.

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5/29/07

This time has been quite instructive on the discipline of prayer. I have realized how much we’ve come to depend on the “prayer warriors” around us. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster, good days followed by really bad days. So continue to keep everyone in your prayers.

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6/11/07

My wife sent out the following e-mail that I thought I would share:

Earlier tonight (6:50 pm) I got a text message from Ro

“The baby is doing worse right now than she has since she’s been alive. It’s really bad and she’s in a lot of pain. Please Pray.”

Then two hours or so later (9:35 pm) I get this message from Ro:

“In a few minutes she is gonna undergo an incredibly risky procedure on her lungs. If it doesn’t work. they’re pretty much out of ideas. Please pray hard.”

then right as I sat down to write this e-mail (10:25 pm) I get this message from Ro

“the procedure didn’t work so now they’re gonna make her comfortable and hope for the best”

I don’t know what God has in store for little Yalaina, but I hope for the best and she becomes a beautiful healthy big girl. (I started to say baby girl, but I want mo
re than that) It’s frustrating for me to think that Ro went thru all that stuff while she was pregnant and then be in the hospital on bed rest for a month just to give birth to an extremely sick kid and then have so many up and downs and now this… this can’t be what’s planned for Yalaina.

OK it’s late, I’m tired and I am in a mood and very frustrated and that just leads me saying the wrong things… I will end by saying I place Yalaina in God’s hand and will try to deal with the outcome of that if it ends up being not what “I want”.

Please pray for Yalaina along with the Griffin Family (Ro, Eric, Emmy, and Calvin “Bubby”)

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Community Crutch

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” –Galatians 6:2

Do you ever have to deal with someone you know you are supposed to be responsible for that just sucks the very life out of you? A person you want to be there for, and in theory should be there for, but they just make too many demands of you? I’m going to try and do more than just vent in this blog, so I’m going to at least go through the motions of examining the responsibility of a community (be they friends, family, church, or what-have-you), even as individuals, in taking on one another’s burdens.

There are times when we ought to take as much of another’s burdens as possible. There will be times when I’m in a good place (financially, emotionally, physically, time wise) and a friend or family may be crunched and I can take that burden from them. However, while propping them up is one thing, but it’s not the ideal long term solution.

As I wrestle with the practical implications of what it means to support one another, what it means to share one another burdens, I can’t help but think—counterintuitive as this may sound—sometimes being a constant safety net keeps folks from growing, trying, experimenting, risking failure. Knowing someone is always there can make folks lazy and dependent. When I think of my role as a parent, the goal is to get the kids out of the nest by preparing them to be on their own, not constantly following after them in case they falter. There comes a point when we have to let go of the handle bars and trust that we’ve taught them how to ride the bicycle.

The problem arises when we encounter some folks who try to get by on pity. They won’t work or won’t hold down a job. They seem content to continue to put people in bad positions. It’s a form of emotional blackmail, like tagging along when folks are going out to eat knowing that you have no money: being invited along is one thing; infringing on them is another. Community is a two way street. It’s often hard enough for many folks to ask for help in the first place, these are the same folks who wouldn’t want to be supported that way – dependent on other’s good natures, sponging off folks, mooching our way through life, especially if they want to be seen and taken as grown-ups.

“God helps those who help themselves” is an ancient proverb that shows up in the literature of many cultures, including a 1736 edition of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, however, it is not in the Bible. This truism does speak more to our nature than it does to God’s: it’s easier for me to help those who are trying for themselves. We don’t want folks to use community as a crutch unless their leg(s) are truly broken.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” –Colossians 3:13

(But I’m still going off to listen to Tim Wilson’s song “He’s my Brother-in-Law.” Right now, I’m finding it … soothing.)

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Dear Santa

Everyday, my boys run out to the mailbox as I check for the day’s mail. They have an excitement, an expectation, though they never get any mail. I keep reminding them that none of their friends know how to write yet. However, they know that mommy or daddy will let them open the junk mail, which is more fun anyway, cause it usually involves envelopes full of coupons. So you can imagine their excitement when I start flipping through the letters and packages (because my wife can’t back away from Ebay) only to find a letter for each of my boys, their first ever. From Santa.

If you want a snapshot of Christmas time in the Broaddus household, despite our Santa discussion last year, the boys are excited about him. They balked at a black Santa display (“Santa’s white!”), but love our creche: a white Mary, a Black Joseph, and a Hispanic Jesus (see, “they” are taking all the good jobs!).

Anyway, I had to read their letters for them, to the delighted squeals of “how did he know?!?” Of course, my wife, keeper of the stamps and curious stationary, also told them that she has Santa’s cell number programmed into her phone. Here’s one letter:

Dear Reese,

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s almost Christmas and I’ve been making my list and checking it twice to see which boys and girls have been naughty and nice. I’m very happy to see that you’re on my list of nice little boys.

I can’t believe you’re already so big that you’re in Kindergarten this year! Mrs. Brant told me that you’re doing so well in class. I hope you’re enjoying school and keep paying attention to your teacher.

The elves have been busy making lots of toys this year and they told me that you want a Soccer Goal for Christmas. I’ll do my best. My favorite part of Christmas is delivering toys to good children like you and I always try to bring something you’ll like. But remember that the best part of Christmas is being with the people who love you and sharing time with them. Toys are just an
extra special treat. The real meaning of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The reindeer are really looking forward to visiting Indianapolis again this year. Don’t forget to make sure you go to bed early since we can only visit houses where the children are asleep. Also try to obey your mom and dad better and quit fighting so much with Malcolm. Remember, I am watching.

Merry Christmas! Love,

Santa

I told the boys I obviously didn’t write it. “Ho! Ho! Ho!” would have been followed by a joke and the phrase “bad ass kids” would have been used a lot more. They’ve been carrying their letters around with them ever since. I bet once they start getting bills they’ll be a lot less excited to see the mailman.

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Eulogy for Sally (Relax, She’s Fine)

The thing about marriage is that when you marry for life, one partner will probably have to bury the other. It’s a somewhat depressing thought, actually, sobering is the better word for it. I like to remind myself of this fact every so often to make me appreciate the time that I have with my wife and to keep my priorities focused on what is truly important in life.

That being said, I write eulogies for my wife like some people write love poems. Hey, my wife knew the kind of romance that awaited her when she said “I do.” I figure it this way: 1) she gets to see the kind of things that I will say about her when she’s gone; and 2) she gets to veto some of the things that I will say. Here’s one example:

I lost my wife this week and Reese and Malcolm lost their mother.

But don’t be too sad for us.

I had to explain to them, like I had to explain to some of you, that she’s gone on to where she’d rather be. She’s gone on to what was the goal of her life: to be with her Savior, Jesus Christ.

So don’t be too sad for us.

We lived with her and we loved her on a daily basis. I’m not going to suddenly re-remember our life together through rose-tinted glasses, that is was pure bliss or anything like that. Our first year was tough. Let me tell you, living with me and loving me will test your capacity to love and remain sane. But I wrote something in my journal during our first year that summarizes all I want to say about our life together.

5/14/2000
A memory of my wife:

Tonight we stayed up until 10:30 pm watching the movie Clockers. My choice on the movie, a Spike Lee joint about inner city drug dealers, the ‘clockers’ in question. She watched it with me, not because she had some burning urge to catch up on her Spike Lee movies, but because she wanted to spend time with me, watching what interests me, learning what I like, and simply being with me.

She loves me, what can I say?

She then went upstairs to feed the four kittens she brought home Friday. You see, she comes home and says “Honey, I’m baby sitting this weekend” knowing a) that I’m immediately thinking that we are watching her brother’s seven kids and b) I have such a great love for kids. She then whips out this box of constant meowing. In the wife handbook, I believe that is rule #37: don’t give your husbands a choice. Had she called home to ask “can we watch these four kittens, abandoned by their mother at my job, where they are likely to be crushed by all the cars that we move about, and whom no one else could watch?” OF COURSE I WOULD HAVE SAID NO! So she just brought them home. We took them along with us during our normal Friday night: to the movies, then over to a friends’ house. Saturday they ran errands with us. Sunday they watched movies with us.

She loves animals, what can I say?

One of our errands Saturday was working out together, so her muscles were sore. She convinces me to give her an oil massage. So I straddle her torso and begin to rub her back and shoulders. I work my way down to her legs as she lets out contented moans. She starts to caress my legs. Then what does she do? She accidently farts. She tries to keep a straight face, but she can’t stop laughing. Which only makes her fart again. Which makes me laugh. I kiss her good night because we’d only end up staying up and laughing like Beavis and Butthead the rest of the night.

She loves our marriage, what can I say?

Of course we’re not perfectly suited for each other. We have little in common. Don’t like the same stuff. Don’t have the same temperaments. We just work. I can’t explain it. I guess that’s the mystery of love. And marriage. Two people not perfectly suited, because neither was perfect to begin with.

I know what you’re saying. Did he just say fart at his wife’s funeral? Yeah, I said it. I read her what I planned to read at her eulogy as one of our date nights. Yeah I know, there’s nothing more romantic than a husband coming up with stuff to say at his wife’s funeral while she’s trying to eat dinner. But I figured she’d want to know what I thought about her while she was still here and she could tell me to reign it in a little if need be. So she knew exactly what I was going to say.

So don’t be too sad for us.

Yeah, we’ll grieve and we’ll miss her, but when we took our vows, we said until death do us part. We realized that one of us might survive the other. That one day we might die. So we lived and loved as if each day was our last. And we grieve, not just for our loss, but for yours too. She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. She was my wife and Reese and Malcolm’s mother. But she was God’s child first. She’s with her Savior now. And we will see her again.

What did Sally end up saying? She vetoed anything that involved her farting. She didn’t want that to be people’s last memory of her.

(yeah, right, that’s my favorite part of the eulogy)