I Do … I Did

It would have been 36 years of marriage today.  Thirty six years of ups and downs, happy and sad times and 36 years of memories together. This doesn’t even take in the years we lived together or were friends first

I remember our wedding day as if it was yesterday.  The night before John was helping to clear the table after dinner and he was scraping a plate into the garbage and he turned and put his back out.  He was in terrible pain and went to bed early to try and relieve it.

I slept in to conserve my energy because I was 3 months pregnant.  John got a phone call and came in to talk to me.  His brother, our best man, phoned to say he would not be our best man at the wedding.  I cried.  Already the oldest brother and his family had said they would not attend the wedding and now this.  His family objected to our marriage because John had divorced his first wife.  They all sided with his first wife.  John and I didn’t have some sordid affair.  I had already had an affair with a married man and hated the way I felt when I was seeing this man. I realized early on this man was using me but I was enamoured of him and the life he exposed me to.   I told John we couldn’t have a fling.  We had worked together for a few years prior to getting together and were friends first.  However when he left his first wife it wasn’t long before we were together permanently.  My daughter was the same way when she started dating her “sun and stars”.  Basically after their first date they were never apart.  It was the same for John and I.  I don:t really care what other people think of how we got together but we were meant to be together

Going back to our wedding day I told John I didn’t want to marry him anymore.  I told him to go back to his ex-wife and two daughters.  He told me we didn’t HAVE to get married and we could continue living together.  He said that no matter what, we were going to be together.  Married or not.  He said he would rather have me in his life and his family could go straight to hell.  He said we were not going to give them the satisfaction of tearing us apart.

So he made a call to my brother who was happy to step in as best man.

At three we went to city hall to be married.  Julie and Laura looked adorable in their matching pink dresses.  My sister was my matron of honour.

John’s parents and my parents were there also.  My dad really liked John’s parents (they were all Dutch).  John’s parents were not overjoyed at the ceremony but they put on a brave face.

A justice of the peace married us.  She didn’t make me feel like a number.  I was so filled with love for John that I thought I would burst.  He was standing ramrod straight because his back was so sore.  The ceremony was beautiful.  Afterwards we went behind City Hall near the creek and had our photos taken.

We had our reception at an Italian restaurant that just opened in Oshawa. Many people came and it was a wonderful evening.  My new sister-in-law got drunk and knocked a planted tree over.  It was only recently that I found out she and her husband spent our wedding day drinking with John’s ex-wife.

After the reception we went home. I was so happy to be home with the man I loved.  To this dany I am happy we didn’t bow to the pressure of his family and we created a life without them.

My family made up for John’s family.  My brother became one of John’s closest friends.  We travelled together and spent weeks together in Florida.  My father loved John like a son. And my nephew Stephen looked up to John like a father.  John never regretted his decision to marry me, not even in our bad time.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

There has definitely been a change in me since the concert.  I’m thinking more of the future instead of the past and of what I have lost.  I have been deciding what I want to do in the future. I am glad I didn’t buy a condo in Florida  because I’m second guessing myself on that now.  I have decided I don’t want to work on corporate clients anymore and this will be the last year I do them.  I think I will only do personal income tax returns for another year because I’m already committed to the clients but I don’t want to have people coming in and out of my home all the time anymore.

So what do I know I want?  Here is a list (and check back and see if I actually follow through).

  • Spend more quality time with my children and friends.
  • Empty my bedroom of John’s clothes and my old clothes.  I still have clothes that I wore when I was pregnant with Adam!
  • Renovate my ensuite.  I want a new shower, bathtub, vanity and floor.
  • Finish cleaning and renovating the main floor
  • Turn Emily’s old room into a guest room
  • Create a craft room and set up an area for scrap booking, sewing and other crafts
  • Set up a “vacation” schedule and go to new places instead of just Largo, Florida
  • Get healthy
  • Laugh more
  • Be more sociable


Come Monday It Will Be Alright


My husband was a Parrothead and not ashamed to admit it.  Normally he was quite proper, straight laced (he was an accountant after all) but he did love his home in Florida and listening to Jimmy’s music while we were at our favourite restaurants and bars.  He and I attended every concert Jimmy ever performed in Ontario and had made plans to try and go to other venues in our retirement.

Several months ago Jimmy announced a summer tour that included Toronto so I bought tickets for my kids and their spouses.  That was a challenge in itself as it is not easy to get 10 tickets together.  So after much finagling we got 6 tickets in one row and 4 directly behind those ones.

I wanted this night to be very special to the family so that we could begin to heal and move on.  I reserved a limo to drive us so we could party in safety.  But I wanted this night to be super special and I tried to think of an idea that would be the icing on the cake.

One day I emailed Jimmy and told them about John.  Almost immediately I got an email back from his videographer Stan Kellam.  Stan and I decided that a photo of John during a song would be a great idea.  He asked for photos of John which I provided.  Over the course of several emails I told him about what a good man John was.  This man was so considerate, so patient and so nice to me that I had a good feeling that this night would be a success.  This was my biggest secret ever.

The afternoon of the show my daughters Amanda and Laura came over early and we had some frozen concoctions.  I was so pleased that my son Adam and his girlfriend (who never attended a JB concert) really got into the event.  My son had a shark hat and sunglasses and Leesa (Adam’s girlfriend) made herself a mermaid outfit.  For at least a week prior to the concert I played Jimmy’s songs in the car so they’d know them when we got there.

After a few drinks we piled into the limo and traveled to Toronto.  We laughed in the car but I was nervous and high strung.  I really needed this evening to go off without a hitch.

We got to the concert shortly before 7.  I wanted to go thank Stan in person but security wouldn’t allow it and he wasn’t getting my texts.

Once Jimmy came on stage I felt totally relaxed.  I sang, danced, laughed and cried.  I sobbed during Come Monday (more below) but generally I was  having the best time in over a year and a half.  My daughter Amanda and I belted out the chorus of One Particular Harbor as I always felt it was our song since she was a little girl.   As I looked into the faces of my children with their spouses I could see they were having fun too.

Then came the song.  Stan told me it would play during “Back Where I Come From”.  I told the kids to watch the screen.  I never imagined that the moment would be so wonderful when John’s picture appeared on the screen.  I felt like my heart burst out of my chest.  There he was, with us.  Larger than life, larger than death, he was there.

Everyone cried.

At that moment something happened to me.  It was like a crack opened in my heart. Light crept in.

The rest of the concert was wonderful.  I must admit that I drank too much and was rather inebriated on the ride home but I laughed and laughed on the way home.  The kids kept me in stitches.

As usual when I woke up in the morning my first thought was of John but this time I didn’t cry.  I got up, started my day and put music on while I cleaned the house.  There was definitely a shift in me.  Two weeks later I can still feel the change.

I still feel sad and empty but I also feel like there is a light back on inside of me.  I still cry several times a day as my grief comes in waves but I feel like there is a tomorrow.  I notice I have begun to make plans that are for my life and not for when I am dead.

Part of the shift in me was due to my children.  The love they showed for me and for their father was (and always has been) amazing.  But one thing in particular helped wedge that door open.  My daughter posted this the following morning.


I finally felt that I did something right.  For so long I have felt like a total failure.  I feel like I’ve made mistake after mistake and have been second guessing everything I do.  I was paralyzed in relationships because I felt so insecure and helpless since John died.

There is no way that Stan Kellam or Jimmy Buffett will ever know what they did for me.  I got my life back.  It is my responsibility to steer it forward but I will need help from my family and friends.  I’m not as strong as I used to be but I’m stronger than I was.

So … Come Monday It Will Be Alright.

Headin’ up to San Francisco
For the Labor Day weekend show,
I’ve got my hush-puppies on,
I guess I never was meant for
Glitter rock and roll.    (John was never meant for glitter rock and roll.)
And honey I didn’t know
That I’d be missin’ you so.  (I miss him so much)Come Monday It’ll be all right, (John passed away on a Monday)
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight. (He told me he would hold me every day)
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side.

Yes it’s been quite a summer,
Rent-a-cars and west bound trains.
And now you’re off on vacation,  (While he was dying he told me to think I was on vacation and we would be together soon .. I spent time in Florida alone getting our place ready for retirement)
Somethin’ you tried to explain.
And darlin’ I love you so that’s  (I knew at the end I had to let him go because I couldn’t bear to watch him suffer any longer)
The reason I just let you go.

Come Monday It’ll be all right,
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight.
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side. (I would give anything to have him beside me)

I can’t help it honey,
You’re that much a part of me now.  (John is my soulmate and forever a part of me)
Remember the night in Montana when
We said there’d be no room for doubt.

I hope you’re enjoyin’ the scenery,
I know that it’s pretty up there. (He is watching me from heaven)
We can go hikin on Tuesday,
With you I’d walk anywhere.
California has worn me quite thin,
I just can’t wait to see you again.  (We will be together again someday)

Come Monday It’ll be all right,
Come Monday I’ll be holding you tight. (someday)
I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze
And I just want you back by my side.

Songwriters: BUFFETT, JIMMY

The Four Musketeers

It was decided that we would combine our offices and move in together in October 1976.  I went into this merger apprehensive.  I had a good relationship with my boss Tim, but didn’t feel comfortable with George and John.  We moved into an older building and had the upper two floors above a law office (my uncle was a lawyer at the firm).  There were three offices, two large (one with a private bathroom) and one smaller office.  The reception area was set apart from offices and was quite private also.  George got the small office, Tim got the bigger office with the view and John got the office with the private closet and bathroom.

Right from the beginning I knew that John would be the leader in the group.  Every Monday morning John would meet with me to go over the weekly plan.  He rarely smiled at me and was very abrupt when dealing with me.  It was hard for me to get a read on him.  When nervous I talk so I must have talked his ear off.  His partners were content to let John run things while they did their work.  Tim was the social partner.  He knew every lawyer, every banker and worked the crowds.  Most of his time was spent doing promotional work, he would land the client and George or John would service them.  George was a workhorse when it came to the client files.  He worked fast and could produce several files a week but tended to make sloppy errors.  His goal was to be home with his beautiful wife and he didn’t want to be at work a moment longer than necessary.

Four over 4 years we worked together, often more than the standard 40 hours a week.  During tax season we would work 70 or so hours a week just to get the work out.  None of us really minded though since we felt that we were a team. As we got busier we hired additional staff.  Over the years together I became the office manager with John as the managing partner.  We expanded and opened an office in Toronto.  While staff came and went the four of us were as close as the four musketeers!

And My World Changed

I remember everything about the day I met John. I was 20 years old and was hired to be the secretary for an accountant in a nearby town.  I had been working in Toronto for just over a year in a large office but I was tired of the commute.  In March 1976 I decided I wanted a change in my life and moved out of a large bullpen into a two person office.  I settled into the office and one morning my boss Tim gave me a set of financial statements to type up.  He told me to make sure I stay within one inch margins because the guy I was typing them for was VERY picky.  I very carefully typed up these statements (remember .. these were the days where there were no computers, I had an IBM selectric typewriter).

On Friday these two men return with my boss (Tim) after lunch.  I was surprised at the difference between the new men, one was tall, thin, calm and blonde and the other was shorter with a bushy beard and almost a frantic way about him.  The tall man sat down across from me and asked for the statements.  Tim off handedly said “This is John and George” and I immediately thought of the Beatles.

I passed the statements to John and without even a look at me he took the ruler from my desk and started to measure the margins.  Now, I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m an introvert but I’m not a wall flower.  I’m a strong person and I don’t like being pushed around or insulted.  I immediately got my back up when John started to measure the margins of the statements I typed.

He leaned back, looked at me and said, “They are fine”.

I said, “Fine? Fine? They are perfect.”   I gave him a look that surprised him.  He handed me a package of paper and asked me to photocopy several copies of the statements and bind them.  It was only then that I saw the paper was framed like a picture frame and the statements had to sit inside the frame.  He apologized for his tone to me and I could see the other two men were shocked by this change in John.  John asked me what I thought of the letterhead and I told him it was old fashioned and dated and not something a progressive firm would use.  He never ordered that paper again.

The three men talked in Tim’s office while I copied and bound the statements.  I could hear them laughing and for some reason I could feel the tension in my entire body.  I went in and handed John the statements and could feel his eyes on me.  When John and George left Tim turned to me and told me I better get used to them because he had just agreed to go into partnership with them and I would be joining them.   We were to become the Four Musketeers.