Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Anniversary of Sorts Tomorrow with "My Karl"

I've been pondering the Rain for days. I cannot understand how it just keeps dropping buckets. I have looked back and tried to remember when it has rained SO much in May,,in June. Oh yes, the year 1994, when Karl and I were married. . .

But, I'm going to backtrack. Karl never visited "Willowbrook Lane." I was out on my own, just 21, having returned to Washington State after working as an Assistant Buyer for Nordstrom in Costa Mesa, California. It was a lucractive Job, but I missed my family, my friends and yes, even the rain.

I moved back to Washington,,,,,,and lived a short time with my newly divorced Mother in her new home. It was weird. Moving back, living once again with my mom after leaving home at 17. ( I lived in an apartment that she and my "dad" owned while I finished my Senior High School year.)

I took a job in cosmetics at the "Bon Marche" (Now, part of the Macy's Chain) and I worked part time in a friends Tavern.....Oh my Lord! The Tavern was ajacent to Pulp and Lumber Mills in Everett. The clientele was primarily laborers,,,,,but it was fun, and I was young. I met locals there.

One afternoon, this handsome young man came in with a guy I worked with. They'd been sailing. I looked at this friend, this sailor and my heart skipped a beat. He was lean and tan and had touseled blonde hair that fell into gentle, short ringlets. His eyes were the deepest blue I'd ever seen and his lashes were long, curly and dark. His lips,,,,truly? Were full and pouty and his smile captured my soul. I HAD to Know this man.

And, Man he was,,,as I shortly learned. Not the typical guy I'd dated or knew. He was a father, he was a business partner/owner. He drove a fast red sportscar. He was NOT the typical date/manchild that I was familiar with.

From the onset he explained he was separated. He and his wife met in High School. Married shortly therafter and had two kids. His kids were his world,when he first showed me their pictures, he teared up. And frankly, he told me early on that if he and his "wife" could work things out,,,,,,,he'd go back, to her. I said I understood. And I was young, and he WANTED to be young again and sometimes I saw the pain in his eyes, his face, as he dealt with the deamons of guilt from being away from his young children.

As our relationship grew, I learned he initially grew up in a "normal family." His dad was an Engineer with Boeing. His mother, had a Master's Degree in Literature from Purdue. They were educated and lived the "average American Dream." Karl was their only child. And, Karl's knowledge was diverse and although he was not formally educated, he was very intelligent.

Here,in recalling info on his childhood, I'll never know WHAT came first, but Karl's dad announced one day that he was giving up Engineering at Boeing and was moving to New Zealand to buy a Sheep Ranch, leaving Karl and his mother behing. Karl's Mom, developed early onset Alzheimer's..and shortly thereafter had to live in a Convalescent Home.

Karl was about 10 when all this happened. As an only child, with no nearby relatives to help, he was sent to live in Foster Homes. I'm going to be pefectly candid here. Karl was abused physically, emotionally and sexually when he entered the Foster care system. He eventually shared with me that the sexual abuse came from none other than the HEAD of the County Foster Care Program.

Fortunately, he eventually ended up living with a man and women unable to have children of their own that raised him to adulthood, nutured and encouraged him. He was advised by them to attend Law School, Medical School and the likes. But,he'd connected with his first love in high school, (compensating for his parents dissapearance?) and their young family started shortly there after

He was very intelligent but saw fit to go into his NEW family business-industrial linen cleaning. Karl worked with his Foster Dad/Partner building sucessful cleaning business in laundry/uniforms/linens.When we first met/connected he was successful/driven and focused on his young children.

But Karl also loved to Sail. He had a sailboat he'd named after his gorgeous daughter, The "Brianna Marie." I still have the lifesaver from that first boat. And, he loved to Dive and he'd bring in a "catch" of Crab or fish for us to eat. We'd met at the beginning of Summer and we'd spend days with friends or his young children,,,,,,then 3 and 4. "Bri and "Digger"-Brianna and his son Adrienne. To say that they were beautiful is an understatement. I fell in Love with both of them.........I wanted, truly wanted some of my own.

Inadvertantly, one day, Karl introduced me to the man that would become my husband, and Father to my two boys, now 25 and 29. But prior to that, Karl and I had a Summer and Fall to remember, to cherish and then one day-he told me he HAD to go back to his wife and try again; to work things out; for the kids. I was 21 years old. I cried and smiled and wished him well. I knew that the time we shared was REAL and special,,,,,but there were other "things" in our future...Little did I know then....

I eventually married the man that Karl had introduced me to. We had two boys,,,and after just 4 years of marriage I ended it. His drug use was apparently more important than family and marriage. I dated a bit, casually, but basically spent 13 years with the help of my parents raising my two boys.

Career changes; I was working in advertising and promotional events. I WAS dating,,,,a man quite a bit younger than me, but it was fun and easy. And,,,,,,,as Fate would have it, I reconnected with Karl. He was a photographer now. We had lunch. I told him I was dating. He'd been single for years. He'd become a pilot along with the photography. Did I want to go Flying??? He'd leave messages with my secretary......"Going Flying, want to come?" "No, I'm seeing someone else."

My secretary became my "social secretary." I put Karl off more times than I can imagine. And all the time thinking,,,,,,,,,If I give in,,,,"THIS IS IT!"

Well, yeah, "This was it." I stopped saying no. I fell, again, head over heels. He'd swoop me off in his airplanes or spend time with my then young/eager/vulnerable boys that were dying to have a man in their jaded lives and I FELL....I mean I fell HARD!

And he did too. I remember sitting with him on my front porch when everything was still very "proper" and light and him turning to me and saying " IS THIS REAL?" >"Are YOU REAL??"

One weekend he flew me off in a plane no bigger than a glorified pop can to San Juan Island and he proposed. No question in my mind.

Tomorrow, would have been our 16th wedding Anniversay, had he not died of a cerebral hemmorage as the result of a car accident on Sept 17th, 1994.

Sometimes, I think "what if." I think of him all the time and his wit, his passions, his knowledge. He could quote poets and fix anything. He was a devoted father and stepfather. His last words to me on his Cell were "I love you."

Yeah,,,,it's rainy and it makes me think that the sun broke the afternoon of our wedding. Happy Anniversary my dear, my loving, my adventurous Karl,,,,I imagine your tearing up the Heavens looking for the newest, the latest! (Smile) I'll see you again someday!!



  1. What a poignant story..told in such a beautiful way. (I thought I was reading a novel!) May you have nothing but pleasant memories of your anniversary with your Karl! Please keep writing!

  2. I have tears in my eyes....Shell, you really have a way with words. I felt like I was right there with you.


  3. Shell, you did touch on this relationship when we met over lunch . . . but now I'm so much better connected to your words regarding this man. Your writing is so clear, so emotionally connected. I don't know how you lived through losing this wonderful man--he's still so much a part of you and, no doubt, will always be. Keep writing, my new friend!!

    xo Debi