I am sorry that it took so long to get this story on the wire.
Some stories are harder to write than others.
This is one of those stories
If you got a minute
I want to tell you about a friend of mine
I have known Barbara for a long time.
In fact, she is one of my dearest and oldest friends.
(Not that she is “old”, I don’t want to get in trouble here)
She is without a doubt the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
She is the epitome of a Texas Beauty.
Believe me, she is all Texan too.
Several years ago, when she was married to a man in the oil business, she and her husband “had to move” to Oklahoma and what did Barbara do?
She got a personalized license plate that said:
Even when she moved back home to Texas, she keep that license plate.
Beautiful, smart, and a laugh that is infectious.
But don’t let the beautiful, charming Texas demeanor fool you.
She can be fierce and will defend to the death, her children, grandchildren and those she loves.
Ironically, her birthday is the day after mine.
We always celebrate those birthdays together, even from afar.
She loves to read, mostly murder mysteries and crime novels and has talked about writing her own book on unsolved Texas Murders. Although she hasn’t written anything of the sort, Barbara has taken great pleasure in reading my stories over the years and has been a huge encouragement to my writing and in the completion of my little book, “Sunny Side Up.”
But I am getting ahead of myself here, like I typically do.
I can hear Barbara laugh, call me “Michael” (The only person who calls me that by the way) and tell me to slow down and start over from the beginning.
Ok, here we go.
I first saw Barbara several years ago when I had a beach place in Texas.
The blonde hair, the beautiful smile, that laugh along with the tight sweater: I was awestruck.
It took me weeks to even talk to her, but I took advantage of every opportunity to “swing by” where she worked just to see her. I thought, the good Lord had never made such a woman as Barbara and you know what? I was right.
I finally asked her out.
It was Valentine’s Day and I stopped on the way and bought her, her favorite candy.
Peanut M&M’s (A lot of them)
We laughed, laughed some more and had a marvelous time.
We talked a lot over the phone but didn’t see much of each other until the following year when she and a friend came to see in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
Barbara and I spent most of the day and night tending to her inebriated friend, who quickly learned that “Hurricanes” may taste like cool-aide but the ill effects of those concoctions may leave one comatose.
We stayed up all night talking, as her friend snored between trips to the bathroom to expel the copious amounts of Hurricanes she had consumed.
Barbara and I dated after that.
We did everything together and traveled to see one another.
We went together to see “The Red River Rivalry” between Oklahoma and Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Marine Corps Birthday Balls and other less social affairs we attended together, and we always had a great time in each other’s company.
We were serious. But I was nervous.
She had three boys, all teenagers from previous marriages.
I loved her, but I wasn’t mature enough (Still am not) to be a parent, “Step” or otherwise.
Some time went on, we saw each other still and then I broke her heart.
She married the oil man I mentioned above, and she helped raise his children, because that’s who she is.
Barbara has a soft spot in her heart for dogs, cats, children and broken things.
I always regretted what I did. Always. In fact, I still do.
We reconnected several years ago, and I apologized, and she forgave me.
Just like that, she forgave me.
Our bond once shattered became stronger. Different, but stronger.
We shared life’s trials and tribulations with one another.
We shared our love, heartaches, triumphs and disappointments with each other.
We talked about it “all” and there was no secret I didn’t share with her.
We talked football, (She loves the weekly college football picks and other stories)
we disagreed on politics and politicians but through it all respected each other’s opinions.
We talked movies and about everything under the sun.
Our favorite movie was “Lonesome Dove”
If the following reference is lost on you, it’s ok
But, I was her “Gus” and she was my “Clara”
We joked that both are “Best Friends” were named Hank, mine has two legs and hers had four.
Barbara was someone who listened and cared about “Doc” and I both.
She would always ask about Doc and even sent him several (several) chew toys several years ago.
I would call and she would answer with “Hey You!”
This past summer, she had some health problems that she wouldn’t detail with me.
I would ask, but she wouldn’t give me any details, only to say that she was “good”.
But I knew deep down that her condition was more serious, because she would text me once during the summer and ask me to write her a “letter” something she could hold.
She mentioned how much she used to enjoy my letters when we dated.
She said in one text that she wished we could just visit, hold hands and talk.
We talked just about every week. Sometimes more that once a week.
I told her recently that I would have her come up to South Carolina and she could lounge around all day by the pool with Doc at Blackwood Manor. I would then expound (teasing actually) about taking pictures of her in her swimsuit, to which she would howl with laughter.
We always ended our conversations with “I Love you”
A few weeks ago I got a “new” cell phone number (finally) since the Hillbilly Taliban surrendered.
I texted that number to Barbara and a few others as my “new” phone number.
It was Friday 1 November
I texted everyone that day or the following day with the change of number.
I was busy the following week and didn’t follow up with texts, calls or to see who responded.
But Barbara was on my mind.
I called and left her a message on Friday 8 November.
I didn’t hear from her on the Marine Corps Birthday
(10 November, in case you didn’t know)
I didn’t hear from her on Veterans Day either.
She always (Always) called me, text something on those days.
I texted her on 12 November with “Are you ok??????”
Later that day, I received a text from her sister that said,
“Barbara passed away on November 4th”
To say I was stunned wouldn’t describe it.
I went to google and the funeral home that conducted the service and cremation had a short statement.
Her church had a bulletin and a service for her on Friday November 8th.
There was a brief obituary in the local papers.
That’s Barbara, no fuss, don’t make a big deal out of it.
The same reason she didn’t tell me just how bad her health really was.
I can hear her saying “Michael wrap it up, you are talking too long.”
There is a lot more I could say about her, but I will listen to her advice here.
I wanted to write this for Barbara because she would have known I would.
Thank you for forgiving me.
Thank you for your friendship.
Thank you for your understanding, care and for your kindness.
Thank you for rescuing and loving animals and for loving broken me.
Thank you for being a part of my life, it’s richer because of you.
It won’t be the same without you.
I will miss your laugh, even as I hear your voice now in my memories.
In the event you have read this far….
I want to remind you to tell those around you that “You Love Them”.
I have a lot of regrets with Barbara, but at least that’s not one of them.