It is my belief that in marriage we do not need to agree on everything. We do need to agree on important items like money, having and raising kids, faith issues, etc. Keith and I agreed, from the start of our marriage, that it is important to see family and close friends as often as possible. So, when the weather allowed, we traveled to the Western Slope of Colorado to see some very special people in our lives, including Trevor and Dolores. How grateful we are today for the times we spent worshiping with them, eating, talking, and sharing our lives. How blessed I feel to have a husband who understood my need to regularly return to the side of the woman God sent to fashion me.
As Trevor approached his late 80’s, his health began to deteriorate. The couple no longer traveled the world and rarely left Montrose. Dolores showed me, by her tender care of and patience with her husband, what it means to be together in sickness and in health, for better and for worse. She was vigilant about his meals, diligent about his medication schedule, and outwardly oblivious to the bouts of ill temper that can often accompany poor health. Every morning she rose to make a breakfast of turkey bacon and English muffins with peanut butter (Trevor’s favorite) and go about her daily routine while humming an unknown tune.
She maintained a sweet countenance and a sense of humor. She never failed to joke when someone sent a card or letter with her name misspelled (remember she was Dolores like the river and not Delores). She kidded me constantly about not being on time (bad habit I am afraid). She set about reforming me in this area by saying, “You know, my dear, you’re late,” when I showed up later than the expected arrival time. This declaration was accompanied by twinkling eyes, a kiss on the cheek, and a warm embrace.
She stayed up late at night to make sure Trevor was safely into sleep before retiring herself. It was during many of these nights, when Trevor and Keith were all ready in bed, she and I shared herb tea and chats. We discussed the latest books we were reading, church politics, raising children, and relying on the Lord to navigate through life. She delighted in my decision, at fifty years old, to return to school and finish my BA. Next to my husband, she was my biggest supporter when I decided to continue on for my Master’s Degree. Discovering my gifts in dance and writing was due to Dolores telling me it was time to find my gifts and then dedicate them to God, the author of all good gifts. She fully endorsed the concept of redefining ourselves periodically.
In the fall of 1999, Dolores’ husband of 63 years (the man who nicknamed her Rosebud) passed away only months after celebrating his 90th birthday. We grieved the loss of our friend, Trevor, and we worried about Dolores. I had heard it said when people are together for over fifty years, and one dies, the other soon follows. We feared Dolores would not be with us much longer. Our worries were not necessary, however. This dear lady was a self-defined woman long before it became a popular posture.
Broken-hearted as she was over this loss, Dolores had her own interests and purposes. These sustained her and allowed her a full, productive, and active life, even when she found herself a widow.
She refused to stop driving (although close to ninety years old herself). She did all her own shopping, remained in and cared for her home, and of course relished entertaining her guests who came from the big city over the hills. She volunteered at her church, lent her voice to church leadership issues, lunched with friends, took care of her roses, made a monthly visit to the Russell Stover Candy Store, and read several books a week. Every day, she took a brisk walk that left many of her companions panting and looking for the nearest bench (including yours truly). She continued making killer chocolate desserts for those she visited. She never stopped surprising Keith and me with the carefully selected presents she sent for birthdays and Christmas.
Because I never thought of her as slowing down, I did not see Dolores slipping away. But as she neared the middle of her 9th decade, things changed for this woman I loved so dearly. It was clear the days were coming to an end when she would tease us for being late, joke about her name being misspelled, and gracefully glide around her domain while humming an unknown tune.
Copyright July 2011
Lakewood, CO 80401