A garden well tended ... a life well lived ... in this week's column I would like to honor the memory of the strong, kind man who had made my life so happy for the last 47 years. I was just seventeen when I met Richard, on a warm autumn evening while cruising the avenue with friends. It didn’t take long for us to become the very best of friends. One month later our engagement was announced during a lovely Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve at his parent’s home. I turned eighteen in January, he would be nineteen that April, we were married a few months later with our families’ blessings on May 3, 1969. It was a beautiful old fashioned wedding with cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends and family creating the most special wedding day for us! Family sewed dresses, our next door neighbor made the multi-layered champagne wedding cake, along with flowers from grandma’s yard, our entire neighborhood cut roses, carnations, honeysuckle and just about anything else living in their garden or yard. I remember buckets and buckets of flowers, even our bathtub was filled with sweet smelling flowers in the days leading up to our wedding day!
Richard went to Delta College and worked for KPF Electric and if I remember right he made about $84 a week back then. He bought me a little red Mustang to drive, a big change from the station wagon Mom and Dad had let me drive! The rent for our newlywed cottage was $100 a month, you can only imagine, to us it was paradise! As his pay increased our honeymoon cottage was replaced by a small home, he, my dad and brothers built from the ground up. As the years went by each home built became a little bigger until French Camp, the home he, my dad, brothers, nephews and son-in-law (son) would build under a beautiful old Oak tree will forever remain a dream home for me. Again the years would fly by until we took a Sunday drive through Valley Home! This time it was a huge old barn and a little ransack house with tall, dry, end of summer weeds everywhere that caught his attention. The for sale sign was almost completely hidden and hanging by just one hinge, but he saw it! He promised me that day if we were able to buy it, he would make it perfect for our family and he did indeed make it perfect for us. Today it is a lovely, sweet home place with a hundred year old barn and a peaceful little creek that flows gently under graceful willow trees.
Throughout our lives together he would always remain my very best friend. He was so strong, so very handsome and so very kind! He was a devoted dad to his children and grandchildren. As the years went by there were many celebrations, a few heartaches, mostly just a lot of love and wonderful happy times.
After 47 years and 10 days our beloved Richard will take care of us from Heaven. He will continue to tend his Valley Home garden through his devoted family.
A most heartfelt thank you to our Oakdale Irrigation ditch tenders who tried so hard to save Richard, our fire and paramedics who arrived and did everything they could possibly do to keep Richard here with us. In the end a wonderful, loving man went home to be with Jesus. Richard felt that to be able to live in Valley Home was a true blessing from above; he truly loved each one of his neighbors and friends in Valley Home. A very special thank you to all who have helped us through the last two weeks. ~ Winnie & Family