It amazes me how people, complete strangers, come into your life, snuggle in and claim a place. So it was with you. I didn't know back in the 80's there was tall, skinny, lanky redheaded guy waiting on the horizon of my life waiting for the time to come in, and claim his place in my own life and in my heart. But there you waited and when the time was right, you met my daughter, and loved her and married her, probably not knowing how true it is that you weren't just getting her, you were getting her whole family, good and bad.
Back then, you lived in your little apartment you shared, drove your little blue car, and wore those god-awful little shorts some men wore back in the 80's, with white crew socks pulled up your calf. I'm sorry sweetheart, but you did not make a fashion statement. You and Shannon started going together and you both shared in each other's lives. I remember her going to work with you as you cleaned floors at a supermarket at night and how you worked together at the Chevron Station on center street. You quickly became a part of the Whiting's crazy family get-togethers and from that point on would always participate. I remember one Christmas Eve in Provo, as I was out getting things ready for our annual Christmas Eve party, I came home to find you had cleaned my house for me; scrubbed the kitchen floor and everything. That was the BEST Christmas gift in the world.
I'm recalling little things today, like sitting in the Fox theater with you and Shannon watching Superman. Why have I bookmarked that little point in my life?
When you came into our family, you inherited Whiting traits. It was then you found out how much you loved to fish, camp and hunt. You would spend a lot of time with us in the mountains and would grow to love these things like we did. I remember being with you and Danny as we road-hunted up Schofield Canyon.
You stepped into our family and stepped up to the plate, not only in the good times, but also when things were pretty tough. You stood out on our driveway with Mark, both of you holding baseball bats ready to take on some pretty tough guys who were out to get Daren. You and Shannon were a wonderful support for me when Danny suffered his "great depression". I always knew if I needed you, you would be there. There were many times I called. There were many times you came.
Along with your great traits there were also some not so great. You were the most accident prone person I had ever seen in my life. It was as if you saw an opportunity for an accident and ran over and inserted yourself in it. One day as I watched out my kitchen window, I saw you get on your horse. Instantly, I knew an accident was about to happen. Sure enough, your horse reared up, you fell off the back and it fell on top of you. It was amazing you walked away with only a broken wrist. Then there was the time you put your finger in the cement mixer. Not one of your better choices. I made certain to keep our Worker's Compensation Insurance in place. I knew if I happened to let it lapse, you would get hurt.
You went to work for us when Danny started installing cable television lines in Park City. Part of the job included making certain when we left a job site, it was in as good or better condition as it was before we went on the property. Danny could count on you to see that done. You were a perfectionist in so many ways. Later, you worked for us in installing natural gas pipe lines. You were always a dependable worker. When we would have our company parties up the canyons, you were always there helping out.
I was a lucky mother-in-law. I got to be in the delivery room with you when Shannon delivered your three little girls via Cesarean. Oh how funny it was when she gave birth to Ashley. At first you were there gently rubbing her forehead. As the procedure proceeded, your gentle rubbing became a pat. Pretty soon Shannon called out "Mom-m-m-m". I looked down to see you pounding on her head. I reached over and took hold your nervous hand. Shannon made certain I was there with you when Katie and Kacee were born. How you loved your three beautiful little girls. There was never a question of that. They were your pride and joy.
The road of life is strange. You think you all on the right one and that you have your convoy of people following behind when suddenly one takes an exit and you find the journey not the same anymore. When two people start bringing out the worst in each other instead of the best, it is time to take an exit. You and Shannon divorced. I may not have liked your actions sweetheart, but I always loved you.
In "Life According to Susie", I don't believe God decides you've lived long enough and decides its time for you to die. I believe before we came to this earth, we knew what we were coming for; that it was us, not God that decided what path we would take, what our purpose would be and ultimately the time we would exit this life. I believe, the God I believe in is there loving me and supporting my decisions and hearing me cry out for help and helping me with conditions. If for instance, my life's purpose was to learn compassion for the poor and so I decide to come to live life being poor; that is my decision. I come into life with that purpose. If however, down the road, I find that struggling paycheck to paycheck is too hard, or being without is too hard or various other "too hard" things and I cry out to God to help me by winning the lottery, God will not answer my prayer the way I want it because it will go against what my original purpose of life was for. The God I believe in is always there to love me and help me as long as what I ask doesn't go against my life purpose. I don't believe it is God that decides when we will die. I believe we decide that before we are ever born. I believe you decided when you would leave this earth. I believe Danny decided when he would and that Daren decided when he would. I don't believe that on 9/11 God spared me and my family when he didn't spare all the others that died that day. That would, it seems to me, be a cruel God. My God isn't cruel. I believe it wasn't our time to exit this life yet.
I don't believe that when my own dad chose to exit this life when I was nine years old, that he didn't love me enough to stay. It was simply the time he had already decided upon as his exit point. He had fulfilled whatever his life purpose was. I believe Danny and Daren chose to leave when they did. They had fulfilled their life purpose and had decided upon that time as their exit point. And I believe my dear one that you chose the day you left because you had fulfilled your life purpose. I could get upset with you. I could rail against you and ask why you were so selfish as to leave your beautiful girls. Why you would leave them with the pain, guilt, hurt, that you left them with. But the truth is. I don't know. I don't know what you had decided to learn when you came to this earth. I don't know if you stayed longer, if it would have caused more harm than good in the overall scheme of things. It would be silly for me to speculate that I know or understand more about you and your life than you do. So my dear one, I accept your decision. I accept you knew what was best for you and in the long run for your girls. But your passing like with everyone's has left pain. But it has only left pain because you were loved. And you were only loved, because you loved.
Happy Birthday Robert. I'm so glad you were born. I'm so glad that when you painted your life, you included this old woman in it. I'm so glad that the last words I said to you, were "I love you." I bet there aren't many men who can say they had their mother-in-law; their ex mother-in-law at that, speak at their funeral. Oh wait a minute. You didn't get a choice in that. Did you? Too bad! Bad planning on your part.
I hope wherever you are at today (and I believe it is somewhere pretty spectacular) you are sitting at a lake's edge or along a river bank with Danny and Daren, fishing pole in hand with a rib steak ready to go on the grill.
I love you dearly.
From your mom by choice.