Team of Two

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DisneyLand May 4, 1996


Jim.  My beautiful, handsome Jim.  Where to begin to describe him.

One of the first things I noticed about him was his legs.  He has really nice legs. He was playing racquetball and I was coordinator for the Nellis AFB  Corporate Challenge team in Las Vegas.  Yes.  We met in Las Vegas. He was in the Air Force and I was a GS employee for the Air Force.  I don’t know if “love at first sight” is the correct verbiage, but that is pretty close.  At least for one of us.  I was “in charge” which means I was barking orders to all the players to make sure they were on time and knew which courts to be at and just totally trying to tell these guys (and gals) that knew way more than I what to do.

I had called him weeks before the actual tournament to make sure he was signed up correctly, to make sure he had his shirt, to see if he played any other sports.  Part of my job as the coordinator for these Olympic type games, was to ensure our team had participants at every event.  Bike race, canoeing, track, golf, swimming, basketball and on and on.  There would inevitably be something we didn’t have anyone signed up for.  So, I would get on the phone and start calling athletes who had already registered for other events and try to sweet talk them into doing something they had no desire to do.  Jim did not sign up for anything else.  I would come to find out later he is by far one of the most athletic people on the planet and he did me wrong by not participating in anything else.

I really don’t remember those early phone calls before we met in person.  For some reason though, he felt a connection before we ever met face to face.  Months after we met, he told me after one of my infamous phone calls, he hung up the phone, turned to the guy next to him and said he was going to marry that girl.

The day of  racquetball comes and I am 26 and single in Las Vegas and trying to figure out what I am doing with my life and when am I ever going to find the right guy.

Jim was 34, had never been married and was also single. And very military and everything by the book. I tried not to do anything by the book.

I can still see those legs moving around the racquetball court now.  Sexy.  And then I started noticing he was a pretty good player and he was pretty cute too.

I somehow weaseled my way next to him to watch some mutual friends play a doubles game.  He asked me if I wanted one of his oreo cookies. That was supposed to be my sign that he liked me….he only shared them with people he liked. I declined.  In his mind, that was an “x” against me. But I did tell him I would buy him a Grolsch if he won. He did.  Oh, did I mention he was racquetball champ at every base he was stationed at?  He gave me his medal and told me he would collect it when I bought him his beer.  So I waited for him to call.  For like a day.  (remember? I am just now really learning patience.)  I called him for weeks trying to get him to meet me for the beer. I was just at the point of  shoving that medal somewhere I won’t mention when he invited me to come watch him play softball.  At the time, he was on a couple of travel softball teams and the base softball team.  So, not too excitedly, I agreed to meet him at the fields and watch him play.  There I was, sitting by myself in the stands, listening to the other girlfriends and wives talk.  Feeling their eyes on me as I tried to figure out what I was doing there.

We went for the beer.  He had somehow “forgotten his wallet” so I gave him his medal, bought the beer and fell madly in love over the next 3 hours we sat and talked by ourselves in the crowded bar.  As he was walking to his truck when we were leaving, he casually told me, “I am glad you liked the flowers.” WHAT?! That rascal!  I had received flowers at work just after Corporate Challenge had ended and the card had congratulated me on a great job but wasn’t signed.  I had hoped they were from him, but after he blew me off for a month I had given up hope that they were. I don’t remember the drive home, but I remember the feeling.  Elation and excitement and giddiness.

That next weekend I had a trip to do for work.  I was to take a group of people to DisneyLand.  If I wanted to take a guest I could.  I took a chance and called Jim and asked him if he would like to go. We left at like 5 in the morning and returned around 2 a.m. It would be a long first date and would definitely decide if we were cut out for each other.  If we weren’t, it could be a really long day.

On the way there, we sat across the aisle from each other, not sure what was really happening between us, not quite boyfriend and girlfriend yet.  I was working, playing a movie, letting everyone know our schedule, making sure everyone was happy and at the same time trying to impress him.

By the time we spent the day at Disney together, ending it by watching the parade down Main St. where he gave me a quick first kiss, I think we were both completely smitten.  I moved in with him a little over a month later. We were married 12 months later.  That was almost 16 years ago.

It hasn’t been easy.

There have been times we have wanted to kill each other.  We have moved into separate bedrooms.  We have yelled and said things we shouldn’t have. We have thought of divorce. We fought.  We fought to stay together.  We went to counseling.  We wrote letters.  We had long talks.  We worked it out.  We are a team.  And I am so glad we are.

Our first year of marriage, some of our biggest arguments were over my piles of stuff around the house.  Magazines, books, papers from work, whatever I had laying around.  Jim couldn’t stand clutter.  He was organized and neat and it drove him crazy. I mean, when the saying “opposites attract” is said, there could be a picture of us with it.  Over the course of the last couple of years, these roles seem to be changing.  It is Jim that can’t seem to figure out what to keep and what to throw away and it is me that is being driven crazy by stuff being all over the house and not where it should be. I am trying to figure out a system, but I haven’t yet.  It will come, I am sure.

We both knew when we met that we were it for each other. I can not even begin to describe what Jim has put up with and dealt with from me. I have done the same. That is a marriage. Thank you for giving me Jim. Thank you for giving me to Jim. He has given me unconditional love that I have only seen from my parents and my children. WE are a team.  WE are good.  I am loved. I am LOVED by a man that shows me everyday how to become a better person.

For the record: I was never a Vegas dancer.  Jim has been known to jokingly tell people that I was but then he forgets to tell them it is a joke….of course if any of them had ever seen me dance they would know better. Imagine my surprise the first time a friend of ours asked me about my dancing days in Vegas….

posted by Karen in Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have No Comments

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