Seven months and seven days of living with a new love, a newly discovered man of depth and richness. The discovery, layered in moments of that breathless ache, threatened to consume.
When a partner is unwell the shared days and nights become lessons in management, in make-do, in setting priorities, in hiding truth. Things like house and property upkeep silently slip to the bottom of the list. Promises to clear out the accumulations of a life time are forgotten.
No more excuses. The time was mine and I set an auction date, clueless as to what was ahead. Manic with energy to mask the grief, my mission was clean up, clear out, match the emptiness.
Here, in the clutter of bags and boxes, some dating to 1972, was this man–this man rich in talents and diverse interests.
Dog tags from his time in The United States Army, trophies won for cribbage and dominoes, pilot licenses both private and commercial, helicopter and plane, log books teaching others to fly, mounds of hand drawn schematics, books to identify birds, wild animals, plants, hunting, fishing, tying flies, building fly rods, wood carving, tools designed and created to match a need, mementos of his friendship with Jack and Russ. The collection of Heritage House books brought a memory of how he held a book, any book, with a kind of reverence.
In a chapter of our personal once upon a time, we made beer and wine. His records were meticulous right down to the important detail of how long the brew lasted–the truest measure of quality. Next to that box, I found his collection of daily missals and his letter sweater dating back to Bishop Ward High School days. Family pictures were in every drawer tucked where he kept reminders.
And then there were the things he collected simply because they were beautiful. Glassware, pottery, tools, pictures, antiques— all holding the magic of what came before.
The list of discoveries is a rediscovery of a man I had lost in the passage through health issues. Deterioration pushed from all sides. How very sorry and ashamed I am for letting that man slip away from me, for not always remembering and honoring all that he was.
Robert N. Antonopoulos, 1935 – 2010 I love you.