READY: A letter to my husband in heaven

Mary Ready, Ready or Not

Well, Sweetheart, by now I guess you’ve settled in to that “better place” people speak of when they’re trying to comfort the grieving widow. And, I know they’re right. Your suffering is over, and this earth had lost all the joy it once held for you. But my heart still cries out that I want you here in this place.

I’m selfish like that. 

I miss you terribly and am trying to keep busy to avoid thinking too much. I’ve dealt with the funeral arrangements, the cemetery, Social Security, the insurance companies, the bank, the school board office, the lawyer, Florida Retirement System, and Medicare. You’d be proud of me, I hope, because you know how I hate dealing with stuff like that.

To read Frank's obit, CLICK HERE.

To read the Log's look back at Frank's life, CLICK HERE.

The hospital and ambulance bills are stacked up on your desk for another day. I’ll get to them when things quiet down. I keep the office neater than you used to, but somehow I still can’t find certain folders and files. Even in the awful mess you kept, you always knew exactly where every scrap of paper was.

I’ll do my best, honey, to get the taxes done this year, but it will never be as precise as your work. Not many people knew you were an excellent accountant.

You were so many things to me: a thoughtful husband, a good friend, and a spiritual leader. You encouraged me to try new adventures with you, to take a risk, and to reach out to others in need. Because of your great heart, we were foster parents and rescuers of stray people and dogs. I would fuss at you for lending money, buying groceries for strangers, providing shelter, and bailing out rascal deckhands in jail.

You were a kind, generous soul, and you eventually taught me to be more compassionate to those in need. When you were taken advantage of — as so often happened — you were never resentful or bitter. You let it go and forgot. I’m the one that made a big deal out of it.

I promise, honey, I’ll do my best to carry on your legacy of kindness as a tribute to your memory. 

To your sons, you were a wonderful father and teacher of all things mechanical, nautical, academic, and practical. You gave them the great gift of your time and attention.  

To your students, you were their favorite teacher and the guidance counselor who helped them through a crisis or advised them on their decision-making. To all those foreign students we took in and loved through the summers, you were their American dad, especially since many of them had lost their own fathers back home.   

To your friends and fellow boat captains, a faithful and honest gentleman, always up for a fishing trip, a good time, and a silly joke.

To your church, you were an active member who served God with a glad spirit. 

Now don’t let all this sweet talk and sunshine go to your head. Because you and I both know you could be a stubborn old mule when you got it into your mind you were right, and everybody else was wrong.

You hated it when I nagged you, but I had to if I wanted something to get done. Remember that it took you three years to finally install shelving in the house? “Honey-do’s” were definitely not your thing. And did you really have to dump engine parts, fishing paraphernalia, and all things nasty on my clean kitchen counter?  

But I forgave you every morning when you would bring me a cup of coffee as I was getting ready for work.   

And I hope YOU can forgive ME.  

I acted callously sometimes when you were so sick. When you kept calling “Mary, Mary,” and I was busy, I know I snapped at you. When the delusions caused you to yell for me at three in the morning to insist we were going down and to turn on the bilge pumps, I got angry with you. It’s not a good excuse, but you know how grouchy I get when I don’t get my sleep. 

I should’ve said as sweetly as possible, “It’s OK, Captain, the bilge pump is working, and we’re going to make it safely back to the dock.” I regret the many times I was impatient with you, mostly out of exhaustion, but again, no excuse.  

So, I’ve got some guilt going on, and I’m sorry. During those bad days, I hope you knew even when I was being so snippy, how much I loved you. I could always count on your forgiveness.  

I hope you heard me singing to you and felt my hand in yours as you left this world for heaven. 

You did, indeed, make it safely to the dock.  

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.