Dec 29, 2016

New Normal? What??

It dawned on me that I had mentioned here, and to several family members that Laura's passing presented me with a 'new normal'.
There's nothing normal about this.
Tomorrow marks thirty days without her and I still try to come to terms with the fact that she'll not be coming home from work at 4:27 PM; or, after waking up in the morning, come to the living room door from our bedroom and say "may I have some coffee?".
She won't be chasing Fiona around the house, screaming at the top of her lungs "Now I'll get you!" while Fiona zips and darts every which way to keep from being captured. And she certainly won't look over at me and smile and say "I love you more".
I so miss these things. Things that you kind of take for granted. These everyday things.
Why, as humans, do we only seem to consider what we don't have anymore?  What is no longer visible to us? I had all these things each day and feel as if I took them all for granted.
To hear her voice, or smell that perfume that she wore, or to see her coming in the front door again - what I wouldn't give for this!
Maybe I did appreciate all this. I know that we stayed together for 40 + years for a reason. Maybe we really did appreciate one another
I never expected Laura to go before me. After all, I was the one who had the heart issues. I was the one who had to take 'maintenance meds' daily. I was the reckless one who drove too fast on a motorcycle; or jumped from an airplane more than twice.
Or, if I were to say what my outspoken bride would really say - "Larry was the stupid one!"
I would have to nod my head and agree with her.
No, she was supposed to far out live me, reaching the ripe old age of 100, sitting with the great grands on her knee and relating stories of how 'granddaddy Larry' used to do such foolish things. I depended on her for this.

I have had several people tell me that "it was her time" or "God needed another angel".
Oh hell no! I can't buy that. It wasn't her time. She was screwed out of what should have been the best years we would have together. She was loving her role as a grandmother and had plans. She was making plans for our future. She was so proud of the fact that she'd dropped a few pounds and could get into her older clothes. wasn't her time.
Yet, she's gone. And I see this. And, while I don't want to accept this fact, the fact is - I will have to.
But it certainly is NOT normal.
That's probably enough for today.

Dec 25, 2016


1994 Jaycee of the Year;
Parisian Sales Consultant;
Belk Top Producer award;
Jaycee Volunteer of the Year;
Mention in a national trade magazine for best customer service in the US...

While going through a box of what I thought were old Christmas decorations, I ran across these plaques and service awards, along with many more, with Laura's name on every one. While I knew that she was awfully damned good at her chosen profession, I had forgotten about all the awards.
Laura had a theory about sales - if you weren't looking to purchase something, then why are you in this store? She also said that "if they step foot in my area, they will not leave empty handed". And they, more often than not, didn't.
Our first real meeting - she was a 19 year old hottie working at the McDonald's near where I attended Tech school. I dropped by for lunch, with limited funds. She was in the lobby selling Ronald McDonald Coloring Calendars for 50 cents each. On the bottom of each page was a tear off coupon good for discounts on food.
I was an 18 year old kid who knew a hottie when I saw one, standing in line, awaiting my turn to order. The hottie approaches me and says "you need to buy a calendar". Before I could explain that, as a grown man I did not color anymore, she started preaching the virtues of said calendar. "Look at the money you'll save in discounted meals alone! And, you can then give the calendar to some poor kid who may not have anything to color with. I mean, you do like kids, don't you?"
Before I could come up with an intelligent answer, I blurted out "yes" (meaning yes I like kids). She took the yes as 'yes, I'll buy a calendar'. "Good, you'll need two" and proceeded to take the entire dollar out of my hand. Before I could even react, she had moved along to the next sucker in line.
Years later, while relating the incident to her, I asked how she was able to swindle me out of the dollar and hand me two of those crappy calendars. "I made you say yes", was her reply. "But I was saying yes to the question about liking kids". "I know", she said and then winked at me.
Damn-she was good!
While looking at some of the comments on her memorial page, I came across this one:

Your bright light will shine forever in the hearts of those of us who had the privilege of working with you at Parisian, Laura! I can just hear your beautiful voice belting out your favorite songs in Heaven...I suspect, knowing your sales ability, you will talk God into letting you be his lead singer ...RIP my friend.

Donna NunamakerDecember 02, 2016 | Columbia, SC

Laura was known as the 'singing lady' at work. She was constantly singing and humming while working, a trait that endeared her to many and pissed off a few. She didn't care that she had pissed off a few. Neither did I. I loved her singing thing mainly because, whenever I was at her job trying to locate her, I would not look - but listen. I always found her by this method.

Laura was the consummate salesperson. I know. Believe me, I know!

Dec 20, 2016

Navigating the 'New Normal'

Twenty days.
Twenty gut wrenching, painful days since Laura passed.
She wasn't supposed to die. I tell, sometimes yelling this to her in the middle of the night.
We were together since we were only teens and were allowed 40 years together. We have buried a child together, buried all of our grandparents together. We laid her mother and my father to rest.
We have witnessed the birth and growth of our two beautiful children, one until she was 27 and the other into a strong family man.
We were there for the birth of our one and only grandchild, who was the absolute apple of Laura's eye.
We have been through so many fights that we lost count.
Our bond was especially strong in the last few years.
We have shared in the joy of traveling together on  many occasions. We traveled so well together.
Laura and I launched a business with her mom back in the 90's that grew until we had reached the goals that we had set for the business.
We built her dream house together, along with family and friends.
My love and I have enjoyed financial prosperity and weathered financial storms, always with her reminding me that we were a team-that we could get through anything together.
So how to weather this?
She was my rock and my solitude.
Now she is gone and I am damn near going mad.

Many friends and family members have given me support and advice.
But sometimes, the pain hits again and I lose it.
I'm told that the pain will eventually subside, but I cannot see that now.
I can only see an empty chair. An unfilled coffee cup. An empty bed.
The birds, usually plentiful on our deck this time of year, have all but deserted the place.
It is cold and it is so, so very lonely.

I know that I will survive this.
I'll keep getting up, making the coffee, paying the bills and goung to work each day.
I'll pick up my granddaughter and hold her tight. I'll hug my son like I never have before.
And I'll keep writing.
It helps a little.

I'll leave it at that for now.

Dec 11, 2016

A Great Loss

I am so confused now. I am in shock. I am so very sad and numb.
Laura, my wife, my all and the love of my life for over 40 years left this earth.
Where do I go now?
She was my rock, my partner, my teammate and my very reason for existence.
Now she is gone.
We had a celebration of her life on the first Saturday in December. She wanted that. No mournful funeral for her. No way! She always left those affairs with sadness and did not want anyone walking away with sad thoughts of her. She was life! She loved smiles and happy thoughts.
Her celebration was attended by over a hundred friends and family members who came from near and far to share stories of Laura. Most were stories that I had never heard before.
It was a joyous celebration.
After our daughter Ruth Elizabeth passed in 2002, we did the whole mortuary/service thing. It was a very sad affair. Afterwards her family and friends gathered at my mom's house for food and, while gathered around the big fire that my brother had built outside, the stories that were shared about Ruth E. started flowing like the wine which was being served. There was laughing and a celebration of her life. When we got home, Laura said "that's how I want to be remembered. No 'bad organ music', no trying to save souls, just a fond remembrance of how I lived-not how I died". We tried to respect her wishes. I think we honored that wish. Everyone said that it was the most beautiful way to honor someone's life. After every shared story a toast was made in Laura's honor.

I went back to work today.
My co-workers have been very supportive and kind. They've even offered to help me sort through Laura's clothes and determine which to sell (Laura was in retail for years and has so many things that still have the tags on them) and which to donate. They are a very sweet bunch!
Our friends.
What can I say? The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming. It's no secret why we are friends. The love that they had for my wife was almost equal to the love that I carried for her for years and years. They displayed this love in deeds and in kind, loving words as I walked around in a state of shock.
Our family.
Our dad, Charles Pete Reid, demanded that we always love our brothers and sister. He would have it no other way. The issues that he had as a child with his family gave rise to his attitude that we would always have each other, no matter what. And we have remained true to his ideal. Only once was this tested and our taking on a building project together helped to mend that small rip.
My son, who has now lost a sister and a mom, has been strong, and makes of me a very proud father. He stepped up and proved that he was the man that we always thought him to be.
His wife and her mom. Angels here on earth best describes them.
My beautiful grand daughter Fiona. My heart and now, my very reason for hanging around on this earth as long as possible. Laura made me promise that I would dance with her on her wedding day. I will try my very hardest to fulfill that request.

Where to go from here?
I really don't know. I was only 18 when Laura and I first began dating and 19 when we married. I am now 59.
I only know that I will drag myself out of bed each morning and go through the motions. I will eat, shower, go to work and come back home to the most empty home that I have ever been inside of.
I will learn to do laundry, to cook and to tend to Fiona's childhood cuts and scrapes
I will attempt to set up a tent alone, learn how to make campfire biscuits and tell campfire stories with the same flourish that Laura had.
I will.
I will because she would have wanted it this way.
I will honor her and remember 40 years of love, hardship, joy and pain.
I will focus on the good and allow the bad times to fall from my memory.
Each time that I see a bird I will think of her. She loved birds and kept food out on the deck for them as much as possible.
Each time that I hear her best friend Martha play a tune on her guitar, I will see her smiling.
I will share stories of her, especially with Fiona. She needs to remember just what a wonderful, loving MaLa that she had.
I will.