Ray & I married almost 17 years ago with thoughts of working for a while longer, retiring, maybe do a little traveling, the usual stuff. Elcie is now 13; she's lived with us since she was a little over a year old and her sisters have never lived anywhere else. I've had the guardianship since September '96.
Which leads me to Father's Day. Ray knew I had kids; Tim was almost grown when we married and Jim was still in the Army overseas. I don't think he anticipated a houseful of great-grandchildren. He has never once in all these years hinted he got a raw deal.
Father's Day is Sunday and I was torn betweeen talking about my dad who was a great father in many ways or talking about Ray (or both). My dad's been gone now for 20 years and I've talked about my life growing up on many other posts so this time I'll talk about Ray (who will probably never read this). He watches me sit here typing all the time and I show him photos and talk about my friends and what's going on in their lives. I read him the funnier jokes. I've tried to show him how to access the blog anytime he wants. He's not uninterested; just a little afraid of computers.
I cheated a little for this post. One of my first posts was about Ray because one of my earliest visitors (Hi. L.) had known me from Blogging Baby for months and never realized I was married. I had to straighten that one out quickly.
He's been my good right arm over the years; loving and supportive to the girls and to me. He does everything he can to make our lives as comfortable as possible.
As a family, we've never bothered with "step" this or "half" that or even "inlaws". We're all just one big extended family. My older son Jim said (from Johnston Atoll) when he first heard about our marriage "she married who? Ray? Ray from Paradise? That Ray?" but he and his brother are fine with the whole thing. It was just a little surprising. The girls call him Grandpa Ray and me Grandma Ann (just to keep the grand and greatgrandparents straight). So far as they're concerned, he's Grandpa.
It's worth repeating what I said in my earlier post. It took me a while to get it right but I finally did.
Here's what I wrote almost a year ago. It's part history, part tribute, and nothing has happened since then to change my mind.
Ray, you're as much a father as most birth parents and this holiday is for you as much as them.
Happy Father's Day!!
Late September 2005
Ray the invisible man - sorry hubbyI never mentioned my husband? That's okay, most people who meet me (without the girls or my husband) for the first time assume I'm lesbian. You know, I have that "look". I think I'm straight but I believe we're all a mix of one thing or another. The whole "girl" thing of hair, makeup, and clothes is lost on me although I make a valiant attempt for the little girls.
Ray is a wonderful human being who leaves me alone to do what I want, brings me ice water, cooks, often beats me to the dishes, the floors, or the laundry, and thinks I walk on water. He still brings me roses. Silly man. After several false starts, I finally got it right. Our life stories are very different - he refers to us as "Yale and jail". For the record, high school, a little college and a lot of business training through the years is it on formal education for me - Yale and jail is just an expression. Oh and he doesn't drive so I have a builtin navigator, map reader, disc jockey, coffee pourer, and child manager. I'm a terrible passenger, too many control issues, so we complement each other nicely.
He and I married over 16 years ago, a little over a year after the father of my two sons died. Jim had been sick for over 5 years and Ray was one of our old friends who was always there for both of us. We met in AA when I was new and he (Ray) was 7. My late husband Jim met Ray later after Jim and I reconciled. Short version - I had done most of my grieving watching my husband die. We had just gotten back together, we were sober and making a good home for the boys, and then prostate cancer decided to move in. Meantime Ray had moved to Paradise (honest, that's the name of the town - up the hill from Chico in gold country). Another good friend lived there as well and I started driving up with Tim (Jim was already in Army) some weekends. Ray started turning up at my friend's house more and more and I imagine you can guess the end of the story. We moved in together in S. F. and decided quickly that while we didn't think a marriage certificate made any real difference, we couldn't figure out how to introduce each other to people. Significant other? Roommate? Shackup? We made a spur of the moment trip to Reno (real craziness for another time), got hitched, and came straight back, just in time for the birth of my son Jim's oldest child, Samantha. With Tim almost grown, I know Ray expected a quiet life with his very first wife but he never batted an eye about the girls - just calmly helped.
He's been ill for some time now; not life threatening, merely debilitating which is still a shame. Some days are better than others. He's supportive of all my radical ways; he knew what he was getting into having known me for 10 years before we married (I think that math is right).
See - just ask and I'll write you a chapter of a novel. If I haven't mentioned him, perhaps I'm taking him for granted. Thanks L. for the reminder.