I have few regrets about divorcing my ex fourteen years ago. One that weighs the heaviest was separating myself from his family out of necessity, especially the ones who were kind and gracious to me throughout the thirty years of that relationship.
I lost a brother-in-law last week. He was a half brother to my ex, one of two sons from my father-in-law’s first marriage. They were so young when their parents divorced that when their mother married again her second husband adopted the two boys and gave them his last name. When they were of age to travel alone, they made the trek from Arizona to San Antonio, Texas to meet their paternal grandmother and their father’s second family. Their dad had passed away several years before but they wanted to have a relationship with their half siblings.
I saw Bud (the loving name everyone called him) and his family a total of four times during my marriage to my ex. Twice they came to SA and the family gathered at my mother-in-law’s home or at our house. The other two times we traveled to their small hometown in Arizona, on the border between them and New Mexico.
Their two oldest were daughters followed by two sons. The oldest of the boys had Muscular Dystrophy and by the time I met him he was confined to a wheelchair. He was as kind and as unassuming as his parents and was chosen MD Poster Child one year by Jerry Lewis. As the two girls graduated from high school, they dedicated one year of their lives before going on to college to help care for their little brother. It devastated us all when he passed on to glory.
On one trip to Arizona, we went and stayed with Bud and his wife for a week, and he planned day trips for us each day because he knew I loved history and “was a teacher.” Since he was retired because of his health, he was available to show us the sights. We saved some of them for the weekend when his dear wife could join us.
He showed us the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater. We went to Tombstone one weekend and made a tour of several other “real” ghost towns in the area. We treated ourselves to sarsaparillas and visited the “fake” graves of the good and the bad guys of Tombstone. We went to see the Chiricahua National Monument and tried to make out the “crying Geronimo” on top of one mountain. He even joked with us that if we wanted we could drive through the nearby nudist colony, the famous Sangri-la. The second most amazing sight (besides the Grand Canyon) was driving by (in front of – yikes!) Hoover Dam. That may be where I developed my fear of heights. Somewhere in my boxes of junk are scrapbooks with pictures of that visit.
The last time I saw Bud and his precious family was in September of 1999. We stopped and spent the night on our way back from San Diego. We were bringing our youngest home from Marine book camp.
My marriage was holding on by a fine thread and it was obvious to anyone with an empathetic heart. He hugged me goodbye and told me he would pray for me. He said it was obvious that my husband had turned out as ornery as their father. I hugged him back, knowing that I might never see him and his family again.
Over the years I have thought of him and his dear wife, their amazing daughters, and their kindness toward me. Rest in peace, dear brother, I never forgot you.