In the past, I’ve introduced you to “all my husbands,” either by mentioning them in my stories or in the actual column published a few years ago under the same title.
My first husband George is the father of our four wonderful sons. He has remarried and I am happy to say that we are friends, visiting each other’s homes, exchanging emails and keeping in touch. He is 88 years old and drove down from Connecticut to help me celebrate my 80th: “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
The boys were ages 5 through 13 when Bud and I got them together to tell them about our forthcoming marriage and how Bud would become part of our family. We’d been dating a couple of years and Bud was approachable and easy to talk to, a perfect role model for the boys; he also liked and respected their father. They sat quietly and listened; they seemed happy and thought it was “cool” that they’d have two older stepbrothers and a stepsister. As they ran off to their rooms, Bud and I breathed a combined sigh of relief.
Not too long after, though, George Jr. came out of his room and asked us this question (I guess since he was the oldest, he assumed this duty): “Does your getting married mean that Dad isn’t going to be our father anymore?”
After the initial shock and the words had set in, Bud gently and softly took over. He answered my brave young man: “George, your father will be your father for all time, no matter what. He has great love for you, and I know how much you love him. No one can ever take his place. I promise I am and always will be your friend, here to answer any questions and help you whenever I can. Your dad is your dad always.”
George didn’t ask any further questions; he nodded his head, smiled and ran off to his room, yelling out to his brothers, “Hey, guys, Dad will always be our dad. Bud will be our good friend!”
I of course informed George Sr. about our drama; we agreed that their question shouldn’t have come as a total surprise. Our boys could put their heads together and come up with ideas and comments—where did those perceptions come from?—that let us know they were “thinkers.”
A few weeks later, George came to visit the boys. As they relaxed in the den, he wisely chose this time to have his own chat with them.
“I am happy that Bud will be part of your family. He is a good man and cares very much about your mom and you guys. I can’t always be nearby when you need me; however, I know that Bud is here and that he will take care of you and keep you safe. That makes me feel better; we are all fortunate to have him in the family.”
True to his promise, Bud stepped up to the plate many times. My guys have mentioned over the years how he was so accessible and that they’d had many conversations with him, that he was supportive. Of course, if they strayed off the beaten path, they heard about that, too. A soft-spoken, gentle yet strong man, he walked through life with a certain grace. He had a razor-sharp sense of humor and was master of the one-liners.
Fifteen years of life with Bud was an amazing gift for me, my boys and my family. We were heartbroken and sad when he passed away from cancer. And true to himself, he fought that battle with quiet strength and dignity.
We do remember him often and with love. Bud was that kind of guy.