Terry and I had over 45 wonderful years together. And, I must admit that over the course of this time, we have had called each other many names. So, if you hear names, such as my Baby Poor, my Honey, my Sweetie, Precious, … and many more, you may recognize the deep, deep love that we have shared. Above all, she is my wife, partner for life, and my best friend.
In 1971, I was working for Continental Airlines, and Terry was working for Host International. At that time, while I was between arrivals and departures, I would wander up to the concourse and browse the shops. One day, I was looking at magazines on the rack and I met Terry. After that, I would come up and we would see each other at her work. Not too long after that I asked her out, and she said yes. I was to meet her after work, and we would go out together. Well, when the time came, I went up to the gift shop, and “No Terry”. I waited and she didn’t come. I got onto the public address system for the airport and made an announcement for her to meet me at the gift shop. She didn’t come. Then, one of her co-workers said that she had left early. Well, I thought, maybe I was to meet her at her place. So, I went to her apartment. From the noises I could hear in the hallway, it was obvious that there was a party going on. I knocked and knocked at the door, and finally somebody answered the door. They said that they didn’t know if Terry was there. So, I left. I really didn’t know what to make of that.
The next day, I was at my Grandma Evans (my moms side) house, and I got a call from Terry. Now, she didn’t have the number (this was BC, Before Cell Phones). But, she had looked up the phone directory, found my Grandma Flue (dads), called her, and gotten the number for my Grandma Evans, and called me there. Well, after that, we did finally go on our first date. One day, after a whirlwind romance, and several dates, I proposed to her in her apartment. I was so excited when she said “Yes”.
After I proposed, we went to her parents house to tell them. When we got there, Terry went into the kitchen with her mom, and I stayed in the back yard with the rest of the family. After a short while, I heard their footsteps coming out of the house, felt these arms wrap around me, and Mom whispered in my ear – “I didn’t think she had enough sense”.
At about this time, my Grandpa Flue had just passed away, so when we told Grandma Flue, it seemed to be some solace to her at a time that she was mourning the loss of her husband.
On October 22, 1971 we were married at the Kent Lutheran Church.
I will always remember her as she was walked down the aisle by her step-father (Billie D Sink). As I gazed upon this wonderful lady that was to become my bride, she appeared to be beaming. I couldn’t help but notice that she would look to the left and the right with a big smile, and “beam” at the friends and family that were there to celebrate this wonderful time with us.
Terry and I spent our first 8 years together before we had our first child. This time set the stage for the rest of our life. We used this time to be together, traveling, having fun, getting together with special friends such as Barb and Gary Roppe. But, it also was a time where we learned how to work through tough things, together. Often, I worked too much. During that time, I was laid off by Continental and we had to work through that rough patch. After Continental, I worked for Rainbow Ambulance, eventually I was hired by the Tukwila Fire Department, and then was offered the job as a Deputy Fire Chief at the Parkland Fire Department, where I eventually became Fire Chief. Even then, God was molding us as a couple – mostly he was molding me, while this beautiful lady was at my side, supporting, loving, caring and being there for me (even when I did some pretty stupid things).
Sometimes we stumbled over the rocks in our life path together. But through it all, we came out on top, together. One thing that comes to mind constantly that helped guide us through these times are the words that my father said to me when I told him that Terry and I were engaged. “Keep her Happy”, he said. To this day, these words keep on coming back to me, and that has been my go to phrase, no matter how tough the times have been.
In September 1979, we were blessed with Chris. In December of 1983, God gave us our second blessing in Lesley.
One of the biggest blessing to come out of all of this, was that God (Jehova Jireh, the Provider) gave us the means so that Terry was able to quit her work, and stay at home to raise our two kids.
God used that time with Terry, me working, and our kids to teach her the loving, compassion, and patience that we have all come to know.
I think that He used the strong will of Lesley to mold us, in many ways. I can remember one day after church, I was holding Lesley’s hand. All of a sudden, I noticed she wasn’t there. I looked around, and she was nowhere to be found. So, the church organized a search party. We looked everywhere in that building, and Lesley was not to be found.
Other members of the church were praying by now. All of a sudden one of the ladies of the church drove up to us in the parking lot with Lesley. She had wandered down the busy street, and the lady saw her in the front yard, playing on a set of swings, with some other kids in the neighborhood.
I can remember remember Chris would always want, and get, Teen Age Mutant Turtles figurines. He was always taking them apart, and putting them back together. But, each time, he would “baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”. One day, at church (Parkland First Baptist), I was helping Pastor Buddy dig out a trench to install a side sewer. Pastor Buddy and I were in the trenches and Chris was playing in the dirt. Chris looked down at Pastor Buddy, and proceeded to ask him with childlike faith – “Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”.
I didn’t really realize it then, but during our years of marriage together, God sent an angel to look after me. That angel is my sweetie. You see, if I hadn’t had this Angel, who knows how I might of turned out.
One day, when in the Fire Department, I came back from a business trip, and I got into a rather heated discussion with one of my bosses (a fire commissioner). For the next few days, I was miserable at work. Bobby and I were at each other’s throats over my reaction. Well, what I didn’t realize was that God had sent my Angel (Terry) and a messenger, Pastor Buddy Ellis to me.
Suddenly, it came to a peak, and I was about to explode. I came home from work about to lose it. Now, Terry and I had established a practice that when I first got home, she allowed me to talk about my day and then, we would talk together about her and what she needed. On this day, I was ready to implode. Terry saw that, and simply said to me, ” Why don’t you get into the hot tub, and relax”. Well, wiser words could never have been said. So, I got into the hot tub, and tried to relax. I couldn’t. I was so angry with everything that was happening. I sat in that hot tub for a long, long time, eyes closed, crying, trying to make sense of what was happening. After a very long period (I don’t know how long), I looked up. There shrouded by the steam of the hot tub, sat my wife. She had been there the whole time. She was concerned for me and wouldn’t leave me alone. We hadn’t accepted Christ, yet. But, in her own, childish way she must have been praying for me.
Well, as I sat there, opened my eyes, and saw her, I blurted out… “I have to get back to the church”.
You see, this was what Terry is about…. My Angel. Terry has so much love for the people in her life. When our kids were growing up, she welcomed all of their friends into our home. I can’t count how many of our kids friends call her MOM (I get to be dad, too).
In His own way, God used these two wonderful kids to shape and mold Terry (and me).
Chris, Mom is very proud of your accomplishments and prays for you every day to be safe, keep your head up, and follow the path that God has planned for you. Lesley, Mom is very proud that you are an overcomer and prays for you safety, happiness, and well being each and every day.
Terry cherished our kids, and this continued to be poured out on our Grandchildren.
Audrey, was our first, and Grandma prayed for you everyday and for God to hold you up and keep you surrounded by His angels. Hailie, was our second, and, Hailie, Grandma prayed for you everyday that you be safe, and keep on being her loving, sweet, granddaughter. Lillie, was third, and Lillie, Grandma prayed for you everyday that God will help you grow with your child-like faith. Johnny, our fourth. Johnny, Grandma prayed for you everyday that God will make you a mighty, courageous, strong man of God.
This has been the life of Terry. She has been God’s angel to so many people. She has accepted and loved on each and every one of them.
It was in 2011 that the medical issues started really impacting Terry. A lot could be said about that time, but what I can remember the most is the strength that this gave us. During this time of struggles is when Terry and I drew closer and our faith in God continued to grow stronger.
During all this time, I can never remember her complaining (except about having to sit for four hours without moving while on Dialysis).
Most importantly, during this time the bond between us became stronger, literally unbreakable. I remember my dads words (Keep her Happy), so we did everything we could to keep her happy and live life as God has given us.
One thing that developed was that, all during our marriage, we adopted many, many little signs and gestures towards each other to support each other. Most were private, just between us. But they served as another way to bond us together. For instance, if we were somewhere and either of us needed to leave, we simply made this gesture. whenever I finished bandaging something of hers, she would put her hand on the bandage, I would put my hand on hers, and we would pray for each other. When starting Dialysis together, she would pray that God would direct my hands. At night when I went to bed, I would place my hand on her head and say, “I love You”. Terry always replied back. When we sat in our chairs together, we were always either touching, or holding hands.
Christmas eve was no different. We went to church together (watching church online) and, then, watched one of those Hallmark Christmas specials, as we have done so every year.
Well, when Terry got up to transfer to her wheel chair, she stumbled and hit her head. We got her up, and she said she was OK. In fact, her only complaint was that she was sure that her back was going to be sore the next day. She had no pain, and was ready to go to bed.
I put Terry to bed, helped her get settled, kissed her and stayed up for a little longer. When I came to bed, I checked on her, laid my hand on her head, prayed for her, said “I love you”. She replied, “I love you”, back. That night, Terry went home to be with our Lord.
Crowder has a song, I am.
In this song, the words read: “In the middle of the storm, I am holding on to you. This is my resurrection song”.
This song speaks to what God has done for Terry and I all of our life together. Yes, there have been storms. But, through all of these storms, I can now look back and see God holding onto her. Today, she is standing with God, and He is holding onto me in this storm.
It has been three weeks since my Honey went home to be with Jesus. And, as this time has progressed, I have spent much of it going through memories, pictures, and just reflecting on this wonderful lady. And, one thing is clear to me – God is opening doors for me to further the love and legacy in Terry’s honor for the rest of my life.
During the course of our life together, there are many, many friends and groups that have supported Terry and loved on her. You know who you are, and I would like to thank each of you for the part you made in her life.
Notably, I would like to thank:
Our original “close” friends, Barb, Gary, Shelly, Lyle, Bob, Janet, Elizabeth, and so many others.
Her many friends at Parkland First Baptist and Spanaway Assembly of God churches. You guys helped shaped our beliefs.
The family and friends here at Yakima Foursquare Church
Our two small groups, and the many new friends we have had here. You know who you are, – Thank You. Especially for the love and prayers that you lifted up before God for her
The nurses, technicians, and staff at the Davita Dialysis centers here in Yakima
Here medical team that was there for her and helped guide her through the medical issues she was confronted with.
There are many more of you, —- so, thank you to each and every one of you.
I recently wrote this to Terry in my daily journal.
Baby, you make me smile. The memories still flood in and they are wonderful memories of our years together. It hurts that we are in so much pain, grief over losing you. But, what we need to recognize that the place you are at is a wonderful place, no pain, no sadness, no sorrow. I want to celebrate this homecoming with you, not be depressed over your departure. Life will go on, and you will never fade from my love and my heart. I receive the strength, love, and grace that you have shown me, our kids, our grandchildren, family, and friends all these years. God has shown me that I can be strong and rise up to this challenge, after all, If God is with us, who can be against us. Today, I will work through this grief, I will take it as it comes, and use it as strength, not letting it tear me down. The first thing that I will do is to use this strength to help our kids and grandkids find their own strength. I want to enjoy living, so these revelations will serve as a foundation to live life in the way that God is intending me to. I am holding on to you, baby. The memories, the life we have had together will never be forgotten and always be cherished. I am holding on to my God, for it is in the middle of this storm that He is revealing to me that He is carrying me, walking beside me, and guiding me.
“Honey, your spirit is in this home, family and our friends. We built this together and everything reflects you as much as anything else. Your love is in all your family’s hearts. We have had over 45 wonderful years together. No matter the circumstances we were in it to win it. Your spirit is in my soul. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without you. Your gentleness, kindness, love, compassion was the spark that drove me to become a better man.”
I love you, and you are forever in my heart and spirit.