LOUISE: Knowing Carl

family

Today, I am celebrating my husband! Hard to believe that a year has passed since I lost the love of my life to pancreatic cancer. I still miss Carl desperately, but today I want you to see the man you never knew through my eyes and my heart.

It was our first Christmas together. Being six months pregnant and having no insurance, we were saving every penny for medical bills. But Carl knew how much I missed having a Christmas tree and came home one night with a surprise. He was excited and quickly put together a three-foot silver tree, which we decorated with blue bulbs and tinsel and set in front of the window for everyone to see. It was truly a Charley Brown tree with its sparse branches but I thought it was the prettiest tree ever because Carl bought it just for me. He did so many special things, like driving across town with no complaint to satisfy my pregnancy craving for raspberry-filled donuts at ten o’clock at night. And the babies? He was “Daddy” from day one, changing diapers, mixing formula and often cuddling our little ones on his chest to sleep.

Carl was the strength of our family, my rock though 45 years of marriage, loving and caring for me through nine surgeries, the births of three babies, clinical depression and the death of our middle son, Travis. He encouraged me in my writing and speaking career, reading everything I wrote, at my request, before it ever reached an editor’s eyes and prayed me through every single speaking event. He was his sons’ hero, affirming them in their own unique lifestyles, spending precious time with Jay, loving him, watching WWE and getting Sonic Cokes together. He was Aaron’s best friend as well as his dad and showed great pride in his son’s accomplishments.

Carl enjoyed playing golf, watching football games and the History channel on TV, but nothing compared to wrestling on the floor or romping outside with his grandkids. I could fill a book with stories about Carl. Some absolutely crazy, like the time a bug bomb accidentally went off in his face. Though he wouldn’t recommend doing such a thing, he claimed that mosquitoes fell over dead when they bit him. Then there was the time he raced our teenage son at Turner Falls and jumped from a cliff as a shortcut but ended up rolling his ankle on a pop bottle. He finally came limping up the trail, arms draped over two little senior citizens for support.

Though Carl was tender, he was also tough, training a year and half overseas with the elite Army Rangers, spending most of that time out in the field and mountains in rain, mud and snow for weeks and months on end. He has written me letters by flashlight, candlelight, from a tent, a jeep and even a foxhole. His leadership skills quickly took him from Private to Sergeant. Later, he applied those skills to his career, often mentoring young men in his field. A giant in faith, when Carl was facing death, his one request was that all be done for the glory of God.

Everyone should have someone as strong, gentle and compassionate as Carl. He made life interesting and fun, his laughter bouncing off the walls of our home. He spoiled me with endearing compliments and a million other things like keeping a full tank of gas in my car, knowing I never checked the gauge. He enjoyed our acre plus yard and planted dozens of trees, shrubs and flowers. A favorite was the lilac. When it bloomed, Carl would take me outside so we could see and smell the first spring blossoms together.

I will never get over the loss of my husband. I miss everything about him. But I’m so thankful God placed us together at such a young age and we had the good sense or pure craziness to get married with only eight hours before he headed overseas. Carl was my strength, encourager, best friend, sweetheart, lover, helper, teammate, prayer warrior, confidante and comic relief for nearly half a century. May you be blessed by such a love in your own life.

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