The cat liked me first. He kept sitting closer and closer to me as I talked to my future husband, eventually stretching out, yawning and going to sleep across my briefcase. Studying interior design in Los Angeles, I worked full time afternoons and evenings selling window coverings for a well-known department store. The receptionist thought I should be married, so any and all single men that called were scheduled for appointments with me.
Fred was my first appointment on a sunny Saturday morning. He answered his door with a huge smile and welcomed me in to his beach front home. I sold him brown mini-blinds with no samples. I stopped by later over the weekend with the sample color; which he immediately loved, and my dog, which he did not immediately love. But I guess I would not have been impressed if someone’s dog immediately peed on my pant leg, as I came into my house. He laughed and thought it was funny, so I knew he was a great guy!
About week later, my receptionist gave me my messages and there was one from Fred. The year was 1974, so cell phones were not yet invented. I just thought he was calling to check on his order, and being a poor college student was surprised and delighted that a successful attorney would ask me out to dinner. I had been a college cheerleader, a sorority girl and was a straight A student, but he didn’t know any of that, he just thought I was beautiful, as he told me when we went out. He picked me up his gold Porsche 911. I laugh about it now, as we were both dressed in polyester. He wore a denim leisure suit and a bright blue polyester shirt embellished with yellow butterflies; and I had on a halter dress with cut-in shoulders in yellow. We went to a very upscale restaurant in West LA, and talked and laughed till the restaurant closed. I called my mother the next day and told her I met the man I was going to marry. She laughed, but knew I something special had happened.
The next night we went out again, and he brought me a beautiful gold necklace. He was always bringing me surprises. We went out every night the next week. My grades were starting to suffer, so Fred asked me if I would move in with him, so I could do my homework. After that first week, I hardly ever went back to the house I shared with a friend, so I thought why not. Young and impetuous without a worry in the world, I packed up and moved to Manhattan Beach. The first weekend after I moved in, one week after our first date, we went for sushi at Oh So Sushi in West LA and after several glasses of Saki we decided to get married. We were both ecstatic. To this day neither one of us remembered who asked who to get married, but didn’t care. None of my friends could believe how happy we were, and one of them even took my dog.
My whole life changed in the next year. I gave up selling window coverings and went to school full-time finishing my MA in interior design. I watched and learned how to dress, how to shop and how to entertain. We both grew a lot in that first year. The first time Fred cooked dinner for me, as I did not know how to cook at the time, he made Spam and vegetables. I had never had Spam before and have not had it since. The first time I cooked I made stuffed sole with red wine. I didn’t have any white wine and didn’t think it would make a difference. Three attorneys from a very prestigious law firm and their wives ate pink fish and never said a word. I decided cooking lessons might be in my future.
Our wedding was on a friend’s lawn in Del Mar, and would have been perfect if Fred’s mom had not gotten lost on the way there. We waited for her, as she was wonderful and would have been upset. My own grandfather had too much champagne, as he had diabetes and ended up in the hospital. Other than that it was outside on a day that rained in the morning and the sun came out just in time for our perfect wedding. We drove away in Fred’s Porsche filled with balloons and cans attached to the bumper. Friends followed us down the highway.
I was in charge of finding a room before we left for Mexico the next day and found this wonderful hotel that had a heart shaped bed, heart shaped mirror over the bed, and heart shaped Jacuzzi in the room. When we got there, we realized it was not particularly classy, but laughed and had a great time. We found out after we returned that it was normally rented out by the hour, if you know what I mean.
Getting back from our wonderful honeymoon, we settled into a new home in Del Mar. Life was good, I was going to school and Fred opened a new office for his firm. We bought a house that I totally loved, put in a pool and started entertaining. Among other people we invited some friends for dinner that had the cutest little two year old blonde daughter. After dinner we were all playing in the pool and Fred was the happiest I had seen him. He was totally relaxed and two weeks later I was pregnant with our first son.
Since after six months, I could no longer fit behind the drafting table to do my homework, I took a quarter off from school and went to cooking school. A year later I was still going to cooking school and design school. Chadwyck was born, and we had never been happier. Chaddie was blonde and blue-eyed and the perfect child. I had not liked being pregnant, so had my tubes tied on the table. Two years later, due to miracle of surgery my tubes were re-attached and Kyle arrived. Two beautiful blonde boys made us the perfect couple, and we were. I stayed home for a year and went back to work. About seven months after I started my new job, I was very grumpy. Fred looked at me one day and said you are not grumpy, you are pregnant. I thought he was crazy, but took a test the next day and Maxx was born about six months later.
We were the perfect couple, going to black-tie dinners, entertaining, enjoying lots of family time with our boys and our friends. Fred was always surprising me with special surprises. Our boys brought such joy into our lives; I never knew anyone could be that happy. I had grown up poor on a farm, and here I was living in a beautiful estate in Del Mar, with a gorgeous and successful husband and three healthy and adorable boys. We were the envy of anyone that met us, as we were so happy together as a family. That’s when life changed.
Fred had started getting colds, then pneumonia and we laughed as we always did and called it PPD (preschool parents disease) as we had three boys under the age of five. He went in for some tests and the doctor told us he had multiple myeloma. I just figured it was a complicated word for the flu, so one day when we were in Costco I saw a Physician’s Reference and looked it up. He had cancer and he had two years to live if we were lucky. I sort of remember standing in Costco crying, seeing my whole world changing.
Fred never complained once in the five years that he lived with cancer. He lived through horrible pain, and never wanted his beautiful sons to know he was sick. When we rushed him to the hospital he was going on a business trip. When he couldn’t stand up because of the pain, it was due to having worked too hard in the yard. He smiled right up to end, so I wouldn’t feel his pain. He helped the family move to Bainbridge Island, so we could live well on what was left, and we did for a very long time. He built us the house of my dreams, which I lived in for ten years.
I have never known anyone like him since. He used to sing “You are my sunshine” in the shower in his off-key voice yet it was music to my ears, because I always knew I was his sunshine. He was my life mentor and I made him laugh. His sons were and are the blessings he left behind to help me make it through my life. It has been twenty years this year, and it seems like yesterday that we were driving down Highway Five letting the balloons out of the top of the Porsche on our wedding day and laughing.