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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Just A Fella Named Bill

What do I say about a guy named Bill? Oh, I am pretty proud of him you might say. Just a little bit. He has been in my life since March of 1976. He must have a lot of patience huh? Heck, he even still likes me. Really!
We were both students at Wright State University in Dayton but actually met at a rest stop in Kentucky. "Mommy? Where did you meet Daddy?" "Well sweetie, your Father and I met when both of us stopped to use the, um, facilities at a highway rest stop. It was very romantic..."
Okay, so a less than magical place to meet the man with whom you would share your life but hey. You take what you get right?
3 of my friends, T., C. and C. and I were on our way to Gatlinburg, TN for Spring Break. Bill and his buddies, M. and R. were doing the same. T. knew M. from work and, when we saw them at the rest stop, she stopped to chat and we all introduced ourselves. Long story short, we met up again in Gatlinburg and spent a lot of time together. I was immediately smitten with this cute guy in the wire frame glasses. Longish curly hair, flannel shirts, boots and jeans...with a cockeyed smile, a shy manner and a quick, self deprecating wit.
9 months later we were engaged, on Christmas Eve to be exact. In August of 1978, just weeks after college graduation, we were married. One week later he left for the US Navy's Aviation Officer's Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. Have you seen "An Officer and a Gentleman"? Yeah, like that (but why didn't they have the school in Florida? Weird...) only rougher (and please do NOT think a candidate is gonna fight with his drill instructor and STILL graduate, thank you Richard Gere!). The idea is to break them, physically and emotionally, so they can withstand the rigors of war and possible capture. Did I mention that I was just a wee bit frightened during this time? Oh yeah...I could only see him on weekends and, at first, only in public and there was NO physical contact. Nope, not even holding hands was allowed. Wow, wasn't being a newlywed fun? Still...
It was there, in a tiny Pensacola apartment, that the whirlwind of military life began. It was never easy. It was full of upheaval, heart breaking worry and flat out, mind numbing fear. I spent oh so many years feeling like I would never have a real home & horribly missing my family and friends in Ohio. I went from being the happy, contented college coed to a young wife who was always the new kid in town/on base/in a squadron and who suffered from nagging loneliness, who felt lost when Bill was away. Unfortunately, in those early years, he was away all the time.
But you know, how can I ever say I would trade those years for a more *normal* married life? We also experienced the most profoundly delirious joy with each ship/squadron homecoming. We have lived in some amazing places and gotten to know so much about this nation, and it's history, through our travels. I learned to stand on my own two feet and to become more self reliant, heck. I had no choice! We created a family with our new military friends from all over the world. I can not imagine a life without those people in it.
We also became a team in the truest sense of the word. We often had only each other to rely on and that we did. Oh, I whined and fussed and cried and complained plenty believe me but, in the end, I was (and will always be) Bill's biggest champion and supporter.
He gave 27 years of his life to his country and was so very proud to serve it. He was dedicated and loyal and brave. He had tremendous highs but also suffered great losses. He watched friends crash & he lost his entire crew to a tragic aircraft fire, at sea, just weeks after he was transferred on to another position.
He traveled the world and had experiences that beg him to one day write a book!
He is a very unselfish man, having served thousands of volunteer hours with various charities. He has mentored many a young person from several organizations and donated gallons of blood and even bone marrow to those who needed it. He would never tell anyone about this...nor would he tell you about his Air Medals, his Hawkeye of the Year Award (comparable to an *Academy Award* for fliers!) or any of his other accomplishments. He is the most modest man I have ever known.
He loves The Grateful Dead, jazz, running, off beat films, books, history, traveling, stand up comedy, animals, The 3 Stooges, our pets, our family, our kids and me!
What great taste the man has huh?
I love ya Billy...I can not imagine my life spent with anyone else. God Bless you.


Andi said...

What a wonderful tribute to an obviously awesome man from a marvelous and still "smitten" woman! Your pride and love for him comes through in your post and you have every right to that pride. Your Bill looks so very handsome there in his uniform...and those medals!!! There "is" something about a man in a uniform!

Valerie said...

thank you, Bill, for everything you've done for this country...and for your Wife, too!!

Billy said...

I hope to someday be half the man you seem to see in me. I'm not worthy, but not a day goes by when I don't give thanks for your standing by me and forging this life of ours together.

I love you!!


Jen said...


jafabrit said...

That was a really beautiful post, and I love how you met :)

Coleen said...

That was the sweetest thing I have ever read. Bill, you are a great man. Obviously this lady still loves you!!! It is truly nice to know there are still couples out there who stand the test of time. In a world where so many give up so easily and divorce. I vowed to work hard to get through any problems and after almost 11 years we are still in love too. Thanks for leting us know more about Bill and what a great man he is. (Easy on the eyes too!!!)I already know you are wonderful too!

TK Angels said...

This couple is so sweet. Let me tell you all---Bill still opens the doors for Sue and helps her with her coat.

*sigh* if only a few of those things could rub off on Rick.

But heh-been married to my guy for 25 years. Sue what do we say-when you have the best there is no reason to look elsewhere.

You know how we feel Bill. Thanks for all the years of service.

Love you both,