WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

When a Man Loves a Woman
The Fourth House
by – Sheri de Grom

Several weeks ago, Gallivanta at http://silkandthreads.wordpress.com and I were chatting about some of the special moments I’ve shared with Tom. Those times when positive remembrances shine through. Gallivanta suggested I might weave some of those remembrances into my Fourth House series. I’m delighted she made the suggestion.

Once again I turned to my journals and I picked one dated 1994. As I read I became lost in memories and wondered how I had gotten through some of the hardest days of my career. The answer always came back to Tom loving me unconditionally and believing in me.

We’d lived in Washington DC about six months when I’d compiled sufficient evidence to dismiss with cause a federal employee with thirty-two years on the job. To make the process even more difficult, the employee had never had a negative performance review in those thirty-two years. She was also an officer in a powerful federal employee union that had already filed numerous discrimination claims against me. I had to be on point with this discharge, as the employee would lose all retirement benefits. I knew I had to have everything perfect or the union would attempt to force me out using the race card one more time.

The federal union employees labeled me that white woman brought in from the West Coast with a reputation of cleaning house (firing people who weren’t performing their work to established standards) and investigating white-collar crime.

From the beginning, I was told it would be impossible to fire this person. My chain of command wouldn’t back me. I couldn’t believe they hadn’t taken action years before but DC bureaucracy has its own strange way of doing things or—perhaps I should say—of not doing what needs to be done and not taking ownership of its actions.

A difficult challenge stood in my path and although I wouldn’t admit it to anyone, I was afraid.

Two nights before the union hearing, my employee’s husband was released from federal prison. He’d been sentenced to forty-two years in a maximum security facility in Virginia for gun and drug racketeering. He’d served ten of his forty-two year sentence and released due to prison overcrowding.

I’d heard the gossip among the union members and, of course, they made sure I was aware of the threats he was making toward me and my family. I’d received death threats before, but these made my blood run cold. The threats sent me to the firing range more often and I enrolled in a refresher course of self-defense.

The morning of the firing arrived and, as I gathered my things to leave for the office, I felt fear. When faced with this particular emotion in the past, I usually had an adrenalin rush roaring through my veins until every nerve ending was alert. That morning the fear was stone cold and I didn’t like it.

It was time for me to leave for the office. I couldn’t shake my anxiety, but I had a job to do.

Picking up my briefcase, Tom asked me to wait and said, “I have something I made for you. I hope it will help make the day easier for you and to remember good triumphs evil. Sheri, you are the best of the good guys in your profession.” Tom reminded me of the promise I’d made to myself when we’d made the move from the central coast of California to DC that I would make positive change here.

He asked me to turn around and as with all of my gold chains, Tom had made another and slipped it over my head. Having a chain without a clasp ensured I’d never have to worry about losing one of Tom’s magnificent creations.

The gift Tom slipped over my head that morning so long ago is pictured below. Each time I wear it, I remember that day in DC and how afraid I was and how confident Tom had been that I’d be okay.

 

I tried without success to calm my nerves. My commute that day was one of those rides when you don’t remember going from point A to point B. It just happened. I didn’t know Tom had placed a second gift in my brief case. A gift for the inner-child, the one who knew enough to be afraid.

I didn’t dare cry. I could talk with ‘the child’ later.

I extracted my daily calendar from my brief case and along with it came a soft and stoic companion who I’ve since named Ralph. I’ve always had a thing for lop-eared rabbits and Ralph was just the right size to be my warrior for not only the trying day ahead of me but for every day thereafter.

Ralph tagged along to the union hearing with me and we lasted through a long nine hours of testimony and witness statements. Finally, sweet victory. The employee was terminated with cause. Security escorted her to her desk while she retrieved her personal items and then from the premises.

Ralph sits proudly beside me tonight as I type. Normally he lives on my nightstand, but lately I’ve needed him closer.

I openly admit I’ve been extra fragile the last few months and I thank you for standing strong with me.

A special thank you to Gallivanta for suggesting the topic of this blog. Trust me, you’ll be seeing more of them. My journals are filled with hundreds, make that thousands of moments in time of loving and living life with unconditional love.

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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117 Responses to WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

  1. mihrank says:

    Reblogged this on mihran Kalaydjian and commented:
    WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

  2. I’m playing catch-up with my blog reading too, Sheri, so I just read this post. It’s riveting and poignant and loving! I can see now that you have the material for SEVERAL books. You could have written a whole nonfiction work just about the events in this post, starting with your move from the coast and ending with the triumph of truth at that hearing. Or, you could mine your journals and compile your “Tales from the Trenches.”

  3. Patty B says:

    Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story with us. Tom and you are indeed soul mates I also agree with Patricia you are a very awesome woman – strong, an encourager and very courageous. God has blessed you in so many ways –

    • Patty – Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. As you know first hand, God places us in positions we never dreamed we’d have to confront. Thankfully, He also provides us the tools we need to perform at optimum level.
      Then – when I’m moving faster than I’m supposed to – He reminds me that life is indeed worth every savory moment.

      • Patty B says:

        I could not have said that any better. How is Tom doing? I have been keeping in my prayers. I also saw where you won a writing contest on Russ Townes..congratulations!

    • Patty – Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. As you know first hand, God places us in positions we never dreamed we’d have to confront. Thankfully, He also provides us the tools we need to perform at optimum level.
      Then – when I’m moving faster than I’m supposed to – He reminds me that life is indeed worth every savory moment.

  4. Wow Sheri! Your writing moves me. This is so aptly titled too. I felt your warrior come out. We can do anything when even one person believes in us. I felt your man’s unconditional love here, and I know why your love is strong. Thanks for blessing the world with your stories.

  5. Rhonda says:

    Sheri, what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Joe Bradshaw says:

    Amazing story and you are an amazing woman and human being, thank you for being you and genuinely sharing from your heart! 🙂

  7. Laura Best says:

    What a wonderful story. Loved both of your gifts. Ralph made me smile. 🙂 It sounds as though Tom knew exactly what you needed.

    • Laura – Thank you for stopping by to read with me and commenting. I glanced over at Ralph and I think he just sent you a wink (silly rabbit). He’s like that. He sends me the giggles from time to time and other times can be oh so serious.
      Tom’s confidence in me that day I walked out of our home and into the trenches of my career, I felt comforted in the embrace of his love. We both knew I had a job to do and I couldn’t let it slide.

  8. sueslaght says:

    Sheri your story captivated me. The gift your Tom made for you so thoughtful and caring. Definitely a romantic.

    • Thank you so much for stopping in to read and comment. Yes, my Tom is a gift that saved me from myself all those years ago when I had no idea I was worth saving. We fell in love on that first blind date and have been inseparable since then. He’s one of the most sensitive, thoughtful and romantic men I’ve ever met and I’m determined not to allow his disease of bipolar disorder to tear our lives apart. Ninety-percent of all couples married wherein one member is bipolar end in divorce but the purpose of my blog is to show others it doesn’t have to be that way. Unconditional love from both partners eases the road on what could otherwise be an extremely painful journey.

      • sueslaght says:

        I appreciate you sharing the background of your journey with me. What an amazing gift you are to each other. It sounds to me as if you will indeed beat the odds through your unconditional love for each other. I am sending my very best wishes and positive energy.

  9. inesephoto says:

    Sheri, I got a message from you but there was no reply option… Was it truly you? I am confused…

  10. What a sensitive story Sheri. As someone else noted, it is good to read real-life stories where good triumphs over evil, especially in these days when there are so many negative stories around the world. Tom does indeed sound like a good old-fashioned romantic. Those little gifts were so thoughtful. Hugs to you both!

  11. Beautiful, thoughtful gifts just when you needed them. That sounds like such a difficult experience but having those physical symbols of love must have made it easier.

    • Andrea – Thanks for stopping in and reading with me. My career was what it was but after the move to DC it became really tough. Every day became a guessing game. It didn’t matter that the law was on my side. Tom always seems to know what I need and when I need it the most. He’s definitely the most sensitive and romantic man I’ve ever met.

  12. Moments in love . . . Oh Sheri, thank you sharing such a special loving memory of you and Tom.

    Tom’s cross is exquisite; a sacred relic of the triumph of good over evil.

    As an Antipodean, I think I am looking at an Australian opal, one of the jewels from this great land Downunder. See the firestorm raging within the stone.

    Opal is powerful magic, but nothing is as powerful as love.

    What a beautiful creative man you married; a man who knew when to give you what you needed.

    Your own strength of character comes across in this amazing story and reminds me that there is so much good in people. Too often we see and hear the bad stuff. Thanks for changing the channel.

    More please.

    • Hello, Barbara. It’s nice to see you and your comment here, my friend. You are so right, we hear and see so much that is bad in the world we live in and I’m convinced that hurts us on our journey through our lives. I’ll be writing more about my career in the future and the many ways Tom made it possible for me to live through the daily craziness from that first threat I received from a Coast Guard low ranking enlisted person to push me down an empty elevator shaft to enchanting days when Tom would have managed perfect orchestra seats at first one Broadway plays coming in from DC. We both loved the theater and oh the music. We are singing loudly and deeply to those songs today, per your marvelous instructions.

    • Barbara – I had to pop back in here and let you know that indeed, you were seeing an Australian Opal. It’s Tom’s favorite Opal to work with. He told me he selected the fire opal for that particular piece because it stores, transmits and amplifies energy. He’d purchased the stone years before and had occasion to place it in commissioned pieces but each time he went to get it, something always held him back. I’m sure you are aware the opal is said to be a stone for love and can calm emotions and bring a deep sense of hope and inner peace. While I don’t put a lot of faith into the properties of stones and minerals, I have watched crystals I’ve worn to work turn perfectly black when I was among pure evil. I’d leave for work in the early hours of the morning and the crystal would be perfectly clear and by the end of the day, it would be so black you couldn’t see through it. Tom would purify it for me over-night and I’d wear it again the next day. After I retired from my career, never again have any of my crystals turned completely black. In dealing with Tom’s doctors I’ve had them become really dark but nothing like the years I worked in DC.

  13. Elaine says:

    Wonderful story of the special relationship you and Tom share

  14. Denise Hisey says:

    Doing the right thing is usually the hard thing.
    What a wonderful legacy you two have, with so much compassion and commitment to each other, Sheri.

    • Denise – Yes, my friend, doing the right thing seems to always be a struggle. However, to do less would be my saying it was okay to continue stealing from the American taxpayer. I didn’t make a dent in fixing things. Some simply don’t want it to be any other way. The current problems within the VA have been there for decades. It’s only now that someone blew the whistle loud enough and long enough to blow the lid off the situation.
      Tom has always been ‘there’ for me when I’ve needed him the most. I’ve never doubted for a minute that his love has been there from the very beginning. I’m a better person for having him in my life.

  15. I salute you, Sheri, and can merely wish you fewer bumps in your road of life. As an Army brat, I grew up in the throes of military red tape and hoopla, only to become a military spouse and mother of an Army soldier. Currently we are struggling with disability benefits entitled by my son, grandson and my former spouse.

    It takes a whole pile of “true grit” to muster the courage you have had to scrounge up. I admire you and support you wholeheartedly. Prayers, my friend, and special thoughts always. A special acknowledgement to your Ralph; what a treasure from Tom! You’ll be ok!

    • Jeanne – Hello, my friend. I so appreciate your taking the time to stop in and chat a bit. Your poetry is always divine and and I love reading and pondering your words. You have indeed lived ‘the military life’ forever and you know how hard it is to bring about change, especially when everyone else wants you to leave things alone.
      The VA disability system is in shambles. The VA itself is a disgrace and our men and women gave the best years of their lives on our behalf. I spent 1 1/2 years inside the VA system and it was an ‘ugly and battered’ system in 1998-2000. I watched as claims remained in one pile month after month and never once did anyone pick a single file up and inquire about the status. The staff of the entire hospital was more interested in gossip than anything productive that could possibly happen.

  16. Emily Grace says:

    This is a very special piece, Sheri. Thank you for sharing it. It makes me feel quiet and contemplative of my own supportive spouse. So, I’ll leave my comment at that and let my thoughts weave with your story. Thank you.
    Best,
    eg

    • Emily – Thank you for your lovely comment. It’s nice to have you here.
      I often think back to many years gone by and of the men and women who lived on the open plains of Kansas. Often I’d see the couple supporting each other as they rode together rounding calves up for spring sorting, or the wife running for extra warmth when her husband had brought in an early delivery in the wintery cold, and I have no idea how many thousands of times I heard my father say to my mother, “Nita, how about putting 3 or 4 more plates on the table.” Somehow, mom always managed and there was always more than enough food.

  17. Jane Sadek says:

    So sweet Sheri. Wish my sweetheart was so sensitive. He’s a good man and an extraordinary provider, but I miss those little extra touches. My parents and my favorite aunt used to fill in that blank, but now they are gone.

    • Jane – Tom is the most sensitive, romantic man I’ve ever met. With his body deteriorating it’s often hard for me to remember, we simply are unable to do some of the activities we used to enjoy so much. However, we have good times and laugh about some of our silly hair-brained ideas that I would never have even thought of if Tom hadn’t come into my life.

  18. Gallivanta says:

    Sheri…I am so happy you have found hundreds and thousands of good moments in your journals, to celebrate your life with Tom. The love story you have told today is wonderful and explains the significance of the jewel in the top right hand corner of your blog. And I am pleased to meet Ralph. My ‘Ralph’ of the past few days, as I have dealt with my family problems, has been a prayer which I came across just when I needed it. I may blog about it. I am hoping that, one day, my daughter will be well enough to come home to play the piano again. It has been silent for more than 3 years. But the good memories are still there.

    • Gallivanta – Thank you for sending me back to my journals. This is the first time I’ve gone back to the very beginning looking for ‘memories of the good times’ and oh, there are indeed so many. I was on a treasure hunt and I skipped right over the times when my heart ached and concentrated completely on the good and happy times Tom and I have spent together.
      I hope to hear your ‘Ralph’ – I believe we all need something to hold onto and that’s always there for us. Something to remind us that we are not alone and there’s hope. And, I hope whatever it is that is keeping your daughter away from home and from playing the piano will work itself out and you’ll here melodies dancing through the air of your home someday soon.

      • Gallivanta says:

        Sheri, I am posting tonight on my daughter’s situation. Some of it, anyway. I wish I had been a better journal keeper. My blog, in many ways, is trying to compensate for my poor record keeping of the past. 🙂

        • Gallivanta – My grandmother encouraged me to journal beginning on my 10th birthday. She told me that if I did, she was sure I would travel the world and have much to tell her on times I came home to visit. She wanted the use of all 5 senses and emotion after emotion down on paper. I didn’t really understand what a gift my grandmother gave me until I was well into my 30s and I’d been writing daily. My grandmother lost her eye-sight at age 40 and when I wrote her I always started my letters with: “Dear Grandma, Please, let’s take a walk” . . . and then I’d proceed to tell her what we were seeing, hearing, etc. I’d also tell her what was happening in my world but with my grandmother, I always had a need to spell everything out. My journals have been my saving grace many times over since I held the first one in my hands at the age of 10.
          I’m looking forward to reading your blog(s). Others have accused me of saving my best writing for my journal. That may be but they’ll never know.
          Friends have converted to journal keeping on the computer but I much prefer my relationship with fine paper and fountain pen. Sheri

          • Gallivanta says:

            What a wonderful gift your grandmother gave you. My grandfather always kept a journal, as do my mother and her sister. I had plenty of role models in that area but didn’t follow their ways. I did write lots of letters for much of my life and I have heaps of them stashed away in the attic. Occasionally I read one or two and smile. Paper and pen are very satisfying.

            • Oh yes, I’m a true lover of a very nice pen and beautiful paper. I have a hard time walking past a true stationary store. We no longer have many (and Tom smiles and says that’s probably a good thing). I have a source for hand-made paper now and it’s pure heaven to write on. And you’ve given me a whole new idea for another blog that’s actually pretty funny and has to do with the power of having those status symbols of the ‘correct’ pen and how some believe it will buy them a place at the ‘front table where command decisions are made.’

              • Gallivanta says:

                I am intrigued! But I do remember the time when pens were placed in an important row in a shirt or jacket pocket.

                • Oh my goodness yes. Remember those plastic pocket protectors. Those were around when slide rules were still the norm. That was a time also when pens were know to leak and ruin whatever garment the men (almost always a male thing) was wearing, normally a shirt. In high school we often referred to anyone with a pocket protector and a slide rule as a nerd. Tom tells me he was one of those, complete with slide rule dangling from his belt.
                  Today’s pen connoisseur normally carries their pens in a leather roll out that allows each pen to remain protected from everything except being cushioned in the finest leather.

                  • Gallivanta says:

                    I think I missed the plastic pocket protector phase but I certainly remember the horrible ink stains from supposedly washable ink! I went to an all girls high school so I didn’t have the fun of seeing slide rules dangling from belts. I seem to remember having a very nice slide rule but I don’t know what happened to it. Shame 😦

                    • Yes, it is a shame as the wooden slide rules bring a lot of money at estate sales and such. I came across Tom’s but I’m not about to sale it. I thought one of his grandson’s might like to have it someday.
                      I posted my travel blog today so you should be all set to go next Monday.

                    • Gallivanta says:

                      I think my slide rule belonged to my father! 😦 One year when I left my goods in storage during school holidays, a lot of my things were stolen. It probably disappeared then. Yes, I saw you had published. Am planning to come back and have a good read.

  19. susielindau says:

    Sheri, you were so brave! We are lucky to have that unconditional love. Danny is my rock!
    How is your hand?

    • Susie – How nice to see you. Yes indeed, we are so lucky to have the unconditional love of the men in our lives. I never doubted for a moment that Danny was that person for you and remains that way every step of the way.
      The hand is much the same but I now type a little over 80 wpm with my left hand and that’s faster than I can work with Dragon. I’m thankful for what I have.

  20. inesephoto says:

    Sheri, your story is wonderful! There is no challenge too difficult if a loving heart has a faith in you. Unconditional love created Universes. Who can stand against it and win? Not DC anyway:)
    Hugs!

  21. What energy and fortitude you have, Sheri!

  22. FlaHam says:

    Sheri, Thank you so much for sharing your story, I was working for the Feds in 94, but I doubt if we ever even came within a mile of bumping shoulders. I am glad you did your job, I am glad you did the right thing, and had I known you then I would have been just as proud as I am now. Smiling I wish you had visited a couple of the managers where I worked. Take care, be strong, thank you. Bill

    • Hi, Bill. It’s possible we could have been within a mile. My career moved me to 62 different location sites. I had permanent locations I traveled from but for the most part, I was away from home. Needless to say, I didn’t stay on a site once my work had been completed. However, I was all over DC or so it seemed. We were there 5 years and far too long for comfort.
      I want to know how you are. I must get over to your place for my update. Inquiring minds want to know. Sheri

  23. Terry says:

    I am so very, very proud of you. The courage within pours out and let’s us see who you are. Now you are there with and for Tom also, who knows he is loved and safe because of the courage you carry. You both are very lucky to have God and each other. The necklace is beautiful. The bear, a saint, one who will stand beside you through every step you take in your life. God bless you my friend for being who you are

  24. Awwww. I’m a sucker for a good love story and yours is a great one.
    I sat on the edge of my seat backtracking, imagining how it all turned out before I read the words. In spite of the threats and with your husband’s attentiveness, you were here today so I guessed something bad did not happen. Whew. Ralph made me smile and I rooted for you and you WON! My heart has been through a wringer. Bravo to you both. May you have many more tender moments.

    • Tess – You know I’m not a mystery writer but I will admit, I enjoyed Gallivanta’s challenge and you’ll be seeing more of them. DC was a tough place to work and if I hadn’t had Tom, I would probably have packed my bags and left. Because of my work, I couldn’t actually make friends and that’s just not me. Tom was sick a lot and of course that wasn’t his fault. We were there five long years when I said, I’ve had enough and I’m willing to go to Bull Frog, Utah just to get out of this place. I had too many years in to walk away from my retirement. I was determined to find a place within the government where I could ride-out my retirement and not be in danger every day.

  25. atempleton says:

    I can tell what a supportive relationship the two of you have. Very special.

  26. atempleton says:

    I can tell what a supportive relationship the two of you have. Very special,

  27. ksbeth says:

    what a brave and beautiful person you are, sheri. it’s good to see you back and to read about the amazing unconditional acts of love between the two of you. )

    • Beth – It’s always wonderful to see your smiling face. I’m blessed to live in the middle of a love story and recognize and thank God for bringing Tom into my life each and every day. As for being brave, well, I was hired to do a job and that’s what I did. I believe growing up in a mid-western family oriented culture taught me that when something is wrong, it must be righted whenever possible. Thank you for your continued support.

      I’m amazed how you manage to comment on so many blogs. I see you wherever you go and applaud you with your positive words of encouragement. Do you have secrets to pass on – how do you make time to make that process work and keep up with your own blog?

  28. It’s so good to see you back on the blog, Sheri. I keep you in my thoughts and admire your love and strength.

    • Patricia – And it’s so good to see you here. How is your writing going and what wonderful travel plans do you have lined up? You are always so busy living life I feel extra special that you have the time to stop in and chat with me. I’ve downloaded your books to my iPad for my next long waits at the hospital. I discovered I couldn’t read them before falling asleep, where I do most of my reading, as you kept me turning the pages and I stayed awake all night! Thank you for being with me for such a very long time. You are truly a loyal friend and I’m honored that you continue to encourage me to keep going. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sheri

  29. Sheri, what can I say that hasn’t been said? You and Tom are an amazing couple. You have created a symbiotic relationship that ensures when one of you is weak the other shores up their strength. You are always there for each other. Ralph reminds me of a light brown dog my son dubbed, Harry. Harry went to camp, a horse ranch camp where this kid from NYC was a rough rider. But the tough kid carried Harry with him every where. Harry and his Tolkien trilogy.

    It’s wonderful that Tom knew better than you how much you needed a friend that day. I hope Ralph stays with both of you through all your hills and valleys. When a man loves a woman, he’s got no other choice, he has to be there body and soul. And when she loves him back in kind, there is nothing they can’t do 🙂

    • Florence – So true, every word. Ralph should have his own air mileage card by now. While I know it’s a far greater power than me that looks after me and keeps me safe, it’s Ralph that continued with me every step of the way while I was in DC. He’s been with me each time Tom’s been in the hospital and when I sat with my father as he was dying with cancer. Each time I’ve been afraid, Tom’s love has been with me to see me through and to remind me that we’ve survived so much together and we will indeed come out the other side.
      While the inner-child in me knows Ralph is a symbol, there’s something about that stoic face of his that reminds me good will triumph over evil (it may be just one chip at a time and it’s always hard work) but with love and determination, the winds of time can change.

  30. I would be amazed at your strength in facing the threats in this situation, but knowing what I do of your strength and courage in your everyday dealings with Tom’s condition, I would expect nothing less of you.

    • Hello, David. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Trust me, I had days when I think I would have felt more secure had I saved the cowboy boots I wore growing up in Cowley Kansas. They had real spurs on them and I could have used them more than once. I’ve often thought my battles in working for the government and calling out wrong after wrong, set me up for the battles I had still to fight on Tom’s behalf. It gave me the courage to battle every health organization I could tap into and never give up when I thought I could improve Tom’s care by a single thread. Thanks for being here. I always enjoy and appreciate your comments.

  31. M-R says:

    There is nothing in this world that can possibly equate with the love of a strong and good man. You and I both know it. We have both been blessed. You, however, have spent a contributory and totally useful life; and for it I send you my most sincere admiration !

    • Margaret Rose, There’s not a doubt in my mind that the woman inside of you is built of a fortitude far stronger than you give yourself for having. I see it in your blogs, I know it in your caregiving on a daily post and in your daily victories of facing life knowing your love is gone, yet you have the wisdom to visit with him each and everyday. His life continues in so many ways. That’s the glory of loving and living with a true artist. Sheri

      • M-R says:

        Indeed and indeed, Sheri … and he was.
        I know that as long as I’m here he lives, and that gives me enormous joy – just as he gave me.
        Your words are truly comforting – thank you !

  32. kanzensakura says:

    Another onna-bugeisha added to the crew! I see responses from Huntie and Cindy, two of my favorite bloggers. I know how it is to be fragile and how hard it is to face situations sometime. I was a victim of double standards and reverse discrimination – the oldest and only white woman in a unit and ironically, the only one with multiple degrees and who had trained everyone in the unit in their job. I just gave it up, trying to fight. Sometimes, one has to do that. I decided it was time to shed my now cramped and battered shell and move on to start growing a new one. I think it was a good decision. After a couple of years of hell at work, I realized a few weeks ago, sitting on my beloved back steps and drinking coffee, listening to the early morning sounds of the country, that I was at peace for the first time in awhile. I am still pained by the experience but am healing and moving on. And blessed to be part of a couple with unconditional, unselfish love for each other. Ralph is an amazing friend and I can tell in my heart he has been faithful and true to you. Please have Ralph give a hug to you for me. And how synchronicity dictates blogs today – about love between a committed and loyal man and woman. I look forward to more stories about the love between you and Tom. Those of us who know such love, even when afraid, know that love will triumph every time. Blessings.

    • Kanzen – Thanks for stopping in today. You are right in that sometimes we have to make a choice to change our circumstances. I started following your blog as you were making new changes in your life and I caught the lively sense of starting new, breathing deep, learning yet another subject matter and still being the kind and compassionate woman you are. I believe all of these things are possible because you have a man beside you who supports every step you take.
      Other women will yell and tell me I’m putting women down but you and I along with thousands of others know I’m not. I made those hard decisions before I met Tom and I bet you also mastered one after another before you met your true love. However, we both know, from years of living day in and day out of being blessed with this special love, we won’t be loved less if we fall and stumble and have to get up and start over again.

      • kanzensakura says:

        Very true. We were late bloomers. I was 48 and he was 38 when we married, first time marriage for both of us. I could do it without him, but am so grateful I don’t have to!

        • Kanzen – How I recognize that ‘strong woman’ approach to life. Before I met Tom, my response to men had always been, ‘If I’m there when you call, that’s okay, but if I’m not, don’t ask me where I’ve been.’ With Tom, something was magical and new. I was coming away from a terrible marriage that had been a mistake from the start and was in no hurry to enter into another.
          I’m so happy the special loves of our lives had the determination and persistence to let us figure out we weren’t made to be the toughest of all and that we could benefit from their unconditional love even more. Sheri

          • kanzensakura says:

            I am happy as well. My husband was persistent and patient, knowing my independence and sensing a great heartbreak in my past When I pat his bald head and look into his sweet blue eyes, I feel rested. I can lean on him and cry in his arms and play practical jokes on him. My mother is a practical, independent and feisty woman, my father was a gentle dreamer. I have both parts of them in me and as such, I made it on my own until I was blessed with my sweetheart. We are both of us rather odd ducks and learn much from each other. It has taken me awhile to realize, it’s okay to lean on another person.

  33. huntmode says:

    Sheri, you have made the breath in my chest come easier, cleaner and deeper with your story of love beating fear. Thank you.

  34. huntmode says:

    Reblogged this on Chasing Rabbit Holes and commented:
    Today is a day filled with synchronicity and Sheri’s post pays tribute to what a man’s love can do. It can give a woman courage and strength to move forward through fear and do her job.

  35. cindy knoke says:

    Two of my most favorite bloggers! Of course you inspired each other!

  36. Mae Clair says:

    It’s hard to imagine you afraid of anything, because I think of you as a crusader in so many areas. Thanks for a wonderful post reminding that even the strongest among us have moments of doubt and fear. Tom’s gifts to you that day where beautiful, but what he really sent you was his love.

    • Hello, Mae. Fear, oh yes indeed. I know the cold prickly fear that followed me into my underground parking garage, night after night, the years I worked in DC. I often laughed at myself at the same time. Here I’d put on the face of ‘you can’t stop me’ all day, and as I headed into the parking garage, I’d have Ralph in my pocket and a hand on something Tom had made me. You are correct in that Tom’s love gave me the strength and courage to get through the five years I did in DC.
      Often, Tom would be in the hospital during this tough time, but his love was always with me.

  37. timelesslady says:

    I needed this inspiration today Sheri, goodness triumphs over evil, and also over the multitude of misunderstandings that can blow up into something huge…misunderstandings about did me in this AM…I’m going to walk around the house and look on all my “Ralphs” and realize it will all work out for good.

    • In a true and honest relationship many of us can find ‘Ralphs’ tucked everywhere. Some are big, some are small, they take many shapes and come in all colors. Some are of the finest gold and most precious gemstones while others may be an extra load of dirt dumped into our garden. I hadn’t thought about the particular day Tom gave me Ralph until I was flipping through my journal and there was the entry: the date and time, the emotions flowing through me, my thanksgiving for Tom because he honestly knew what I was facing and yet had the confidence that I’d make it through that particular day and all the days of my career.

  38. Sending good thoughts to you and Tom today, Sheri.

    • PLGCM – Hi, I tried to respond to your message on Pacific Paratrooper the other night but my iPad wouldn’t let me. Thanks for the good thoughts and I hope all is well in your world. I thought of you each time I watched ‘The Voice’ and as Blake Shelton’s contestant continued to climb the chart to the finals. I don’t doubt we’ll see him around for a long, long time.

  39. This is such a touching story, Sheri, and good to know that good does trump evil. 🙂

  40. Engaging as always. Thank you for sharing this with us. I love the jewelry piece and its significance for you. I look forward to reading more from your life with Tom. 🙂

  41. Very touching. Great post!! Thank you.😀

  42. Not only am I, once again, in awe of your experiences as a federal employee, but your strength and character and belief in what is right and what is wrong, overwhelm me. You are one very awesome woman. And Tom has been your rock throughout, just as you are his during his hard road through mental illness. Thank you for telling us your story, Sheri.
    Patti

    • Hello, Patti – It’s always nice to see you here. I waited a long time before I pushed the button to go ahead and post this blog. I thought, am I being too mushy or prideful? Am I giving too much of myself away? I thought about you, Patti. You’ve read and commented on each of my blogs and if anyone deserves the truth about who I am, it’s you. You deserve to know that I become afraid and insecure the same as every other woman on the face of this earth. That I have days I’d like to crawl back under the covers and pretend a magic carpet ride would arrive tomorrow and all would be right in the world. However, we both know the world can be a mean place sometimes but with enough love, most anything can happen. Thank you for reading with me. You are indeed a jewel. Sheri

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