SOME OF THE THINGS I MISS ABOUT DOUG
AND OUR LIFE TOGETHER
Alas, the list is so long. This would all be so much easier for us if Doug had been a boring, selfish, sh*thead. Far from it. If you had to sum Doug up in two words, he was a "great guy." In my opinion, he was irreplaceable.
He and I were the same in some ways, but very different in others. I was drawn to the parts of him that were unlike me. I hoped those qualities would wear off on me so I could be a better person because of my association with him.
The things below that I miss the most are the reasons I loved Doug as a husband and a friend. Some parts of this site are mostly about me and what I am experiencing as I try to work through grief and loss. A lot of this particular list is about Doug & me. But I know that others who knew, loved and enjoyed him will be able to relate to much of it. I'm glad I'm not the only one who knew how amazing he was.
I am currently filled with fears, worries, wishes and regrets. Still, I am grateful that, while Doug was alive, I told him how much I appreciated pretty much every one of these things. Some people forget to do this, take it for granted or don't have or take the time to express it.
Also see the list of things I don't regret.
Here are some of the things I miss about Doug and our life together. They are in no particular order. It is very hard to talk about these things in past tense.
- The unconditional, boundless, consistent love he gave me over the past 20 years. I am more of a tough love type. Doug was not my first love. He was the last. I know that no one will ever love me like that again.
- The happiness I had never known before. Knowing how unlikely it is that I'll ever have it again.
- Being worshipped and spoiled. He was oblivious enough to think I was Miss Perfect. More than one wife has asked her husband "Why can't you be more like Doug?"
- The fun and funniness. He was one of the funniest, most entertaining people I have ever met. (See videos of singing to get a feel for what he was like w
- hen he got going.) Before we started dating, if I was having a bad day I used to call him up at work and beg for a joke. He always had one ready, although some were pretty lame. I could not believe some of the things he said and did. The constant laughter ranged from chuckles to side splitting. There were so many hilarious stories and times together. Watching him squirm and get all excited while telling a shaggy dog story/joke. His smile and hearty laugh.
- His cheerfulness. He was generally an incredibly happy guy. He had a great attitude. He focused on the positive and shut off or ignored the negative stuff. He seldom complained. Instead, he would just suck it up. I asked him how he could tolerate the cold weather that made me so miserable. He said he just blocked it out. He had few regrets. I rarely saw him mope, although after he started on the blood pressure medication his mood changed and he became more curmudgeonly. Also, he would often struggle with difficulties at work or a house-fixing challenge or broken tool.
- Believing in others. And in all that was possible.
- He knew me inside and out. I could talk to him about anything. I could tell him anything, without fear of being judged or criticized, or mocked.
- Being able to complain to him. Who bugged me, what went wrong, who was not perfect. He would listen, and laugh when I got out of control.
- His honesty. Doug was a lousy liar. That is a good thing. I knew I could count on him to tell me the truth.
- He never said anything he didn't mean. If he said he was going to do something, he did it. If he asked you to do something with him, he meant it. He was sincere.
- Saving me from myself. He was the voice of reason. He talked me out of saying, writing and doing a lot of things. He helped edit me. He would also tell me when I was out of line, but always in a supportive, loving and gentle way.
- He thought I was perfect, which in my mind made him practically perfect.
- His faithfulness. In marriage and in friendship. I had a very bad experience the first time around, when my partner had repeated affairs. I know that anybody is capable of anything, given the right circumstances. Despite that, I never had to worry about Doug cheating on me.
- He was non-judgmental. He just accepted people the way they were. He didn't try to change them.
- His even tempered, good naturedness.
- His quiet confidence and self-assurance. It was magnetic.
- That he respected me. I certainly respected him - for his accomplishments and dedication, and for the kind of man and human being he was.
- His professionalism at work. He was dedicated. He really cared about his job and the environment. He got things done. He wanted them done right. He treated all of his colleagues and citizens with respect. That included women. He respected and loved his mother. He never talked down to them or about them. He had great admiration for the capable women of the DEP and in the private sector.
- The ability to fix just about anything. I married a carpenter. I married a plumber. I married an electrician. I married a roofer. I married a landscaper. I married a car mechanic. I married an all around handyman.
- His ability to love himself. He was proud of his accomplishments. He was proud of being in shape. He loved looking at pictures of himself. I set up an "I love me" wall for his racing medals, a Distinguished Service Award from work (which I referred to as a Distinguished Suck up Award) and photos of his climbing triumphs. He would have been so impressed with what people said about him after this happened, including what people shared at the services. It hurts to think that he is missing it.
- His lack of self-absorption. It was not all about him.
- His loyalty. To me, to family, to friends and his employer, the CT Dept. of Environmental Protection.
- That he didn't care what either of us looked like. He often said "Our modeling careers are over." Outside of work, he dressed like a homeless man. Yet he wore a tie to the office almost every day for 27 years. The sharp looking guy shocked some of our neighbors (who were used to the homeless look.) However, If I did dress up or put an ounce of makeup on, he always noticed. He often told me how beautiful he thought I was (to my disbelief) regardless of whether or not I looked like a mess.
- The lack of fussiness. There were some things he was particular about. He liked to have a neat, clean desktop at work. He liked to put things back where they belonged. He didn't like to come downstairs in the morning to a pile of dirty dishes. But that was about it.
- That he didn't take himself too seriously. He kind of had no pride. If he did, he wouldn’t have dressed like a homeless man half the time. He really didn’t care if I wrote sh*t about him in my articles – he just wanted to be in them, flattering or not. He let me put the picture of him wearing a garbage bag wearing a garbage bag during a rainy hike on our Christmas collage. A friend commented that it was awful that I would include such a picture - he would have been mortified. Doug thought it was funny. He could laugh at himself.
- He was very low maintenance and independent. He seldom demanded anything, except maybe that we have fun.He didn't expect me to wait on him hand and foot. He would never think of asking me to make him coffee (plus I didn't know how - I don't drink it. I tried making it once at work, and after Buzz Devine tasted it, he threw it out the window. That was my one and only attempt.) Doug didn't expect me to spoon food on his plate. He didn't even expect me to make dinner. When I was really busy with work or at a night meeting for volunteer stuff, he would do it himself. Like all men, he did occasionally stare into the refrigerator and ask me where the butter was, even though there were multiple sticks in the butter holder on the door, where they always were.
- His sensitivity. When he was growing up, he was very short and slight. He was constantly worried that some bully was going to beat the crap out of him. It made him more scrappy and built courage. It also made him more aware and more sensitive of others.
- He rarely got mad or yelled. I don't think I heard him raise his voice more than a few times in 27 years. When he did, it was usually as a result of me behaving very badly, or something he was unable to fix. I think he learned this at home. His parents never raise their voices either.
- His thoughtfulness. He was such a nice guy.
- He let me take gazillions of pictures of him, many in really silly poses - with things on his head, food on his face etc. Thank goodness I have them now.
- That he was a homebody like me. We both loved This Old House. We enjoyed traveling together. However, we also both looked forward to coming home and just hunkering down and relaxing here together.
- His helpfulness. He would jump in and help just about anyone with anything if he had the time and the ability. I recall early on in his career we needed to move some big file cabinets in the hallway due to fire code issues. Suddenly everybody disappeared except me and Pat. And of course Doug, who cheerfully chipped in. He really didn't expect ANYTHING in return - not even thanks.
- His own thankfulness. He actually sent me a thank you card after our first date. He thanked me every time I went to one of his many softball games and race. (I tried to go to all of them, unless I was on travel or really ill.) He even thanked me for "letting" him work when I wanted to go out and play.
- Whenever we went on a hike, he researched it. He brought a map (which he had usually studied the night before. He was always the navigator. I have no sense of direction. I would wander off the trail in an instant. He always found the way.) He packed snacks, toilet paper (sometimes), a flashlight in case we got stuck in the dark, and, of course, tasty beverages. He carried all the heavy stuff without being asked.
- Looking for the best in people. I would focus on their limitations or annoying qualities. He would just see the good parts (sometimes to a fault.) He liked most people, although there were a few that lost his trust.
- His friendships. I love his high school, college, climbing, running and softball friends. They are great, fun, interesting people.
- The security. Knowing I could count on him for just about anything I needed. I knew he would take care of me. I thought he would always be there. He was so responsible. He worked hard for the DEP for 27 years, giving it his all. He brought home a solid paycheck every week that enabled us to do and have a lot of things.
- Being on time. He was never late if he could help it. He was concerned about this from a very young age. His parents told me that he walked to first grade on the first day of school. He got there so early no one was there yet, and ran back home crying. He liked to get to the airport 2 or 3 hours ahead of time, just in case. If he got stuck in traffic or something kept him late, he would call me so I wouldn't worry. He was so considerate of others time.
- He didn't get caught up in macho egomania. If he was climbing and got to a part that was beyond his abilities, he stopped.
- He was usually the Voice of Reason. He was a source of good advice. However, as his friend, colleague and supervisor Betsey Wingfield so astutely noted in her eulogy, he wouldn't provide it unsolicited. He didn't tell people what to do. Instead, when asked, he approached it as "here's what I would do."
- He never wanted to hurt me or anyone. He was so not vindictive.
- Being forgiving. He quickly forgot transgressions, including my daily ones. He did not hold a grudge. When I did something wrong, he never bawled me out. I lost my beautiful diamond engagement ring while I was cleaning a rental property. We had picked out an antique setting together. The diamond was so sparkly and colorful. It was expensive too (more than he could afford back in 1991.) He had given it to me back in 1991. I was devastated when it went missing. But he didn't get mad. He just helped me look for it for days because he knew how much it meant to me. He pumped out the dry well. He and Joe used a metal detector on the cat box in case Tenzing had eaten it. Then he got me another bigger one, with no complaint about the cost. He romantically re-proposed out at Pulpit Rock, on bended knee.
- He was so easy to please. His expectations were pretty low (one of the reasons he was so happy to be married to me :-) If I got him a present, he never said something disappointing like " this is the wrong color." He just liked and appreciated it.
- Playing with the cat.Tenzing is a high maintenance cat. He doesn't know how to entertain himself, and wants us to play him for at least 1/2 an hour a day. Doug would patiently make up games for him. He also was always buying him little toys - especially those felt catnip mice. In the month after this happened, he didn't play at all.
- Taking care of me. He carried all the heavy stuff. He cleaned out my car.
- Buying me little treats. Going with me to get me ice cream when I had one of my frequent cravings.
- His parents. They were one of the reasons I married Doug. I know in-laws can make life a living hell. His parents are amazing. It is clear where he got many of his good qualities from.
- His ability to party. Someone said in their condolences that he usually saw Doug at parties, but wherever Doug was it was a party. He loved to celebrate.
- His sappiness. For love, a sunrise, etc. He never forgot our first date, a birthday or anniversary. He expressed his love freely without restraint or self-consciousness. He always got me (sometimes funny, sometimes very sappy) cards for special occasions. He took great care selecting gifts for me, worrying about it, and getting something thoughtful way in advance. One year he gave me a balloon ride over the Quiet Corner for Christmas. Another year he replaced all of my old spices with new ones from Penzey's. Last Christmas he bought me a beautiful jacket and shirt from Talbot's. How many men shop for their wives at Talbots?
- The flowers.
- The first bouquet he gave me was left on my desk at work after one of our first dates. (We met, and then worked together for 13 years at DEP.) It consisted of a combination of flowers and weeds (he really couldn't tell the difference) from the courtyard at the house. It had a big honking stinkbug on it.
- Usually when I came home from travel, there were flowers waiting for me. Or if he went away on a climbing trip, he often came home with a bouquet. When we were grocery shopping he would sneak up front and pick out a bouquet (and then set a six pack of ice tea on top of it and smash it.) He would pick wildflowers for me while we were bluebirding or hiking, often taking the roots with them. Sometimes he would just pick a flower off a lilac shrub at our house and bring it to me so I could inhale the fragrance. He would mow around all the wildflowers (buttercups, daisies, etc.) in the yard while they were blooming.
- His competitiveness in sports. He loved to win. Watching his races and softball games (I went to almost every one.)
- He gave 150% in softball. Once after he threw himself over a fence trying to get a softball, the ump said he was crazy and his teammates asked if he thought he was making a million dollars a year. He went to the ER three times for that team. The first time he was playing shortstop. He threw himself on the ground trying to get a ball and landed on a rock. He mentioned it hurt and I mocked him, telling him he was a pansy. He finally went into the doctor and found out he had a broken rib. Believe me, he milked that one. The second time in 2007, he was flinging himself after a softball and dislocated his shoulder. When he did it again in 2008, he needed surgery. Then he did it again in 2009. I had cautioned him about throwing himself on the ground on a play, and he promised not to do it. But he couldn't stop himself. After he flung himself on the ground the third time in his last game, I screamed from the stands "DOUG WHAT THE F*#K IS THIS MATTER WITH YOU!??" (This was very scary for his teammates.) He just said "You can't tame a lion." I had to laugh. The things that came out of his mouth sometimes....
- Running. Almost every year he ran in the Cathy Deary race and the Woodstock 10K. He finished 6 marathons. He ran the Manchester Thanksgiving road race dressed as a gift wrapped present (and fans yelled after him "Go gift!")
- After his last race (the 2010 Memorial Day 10K in Woodstock), he got a medal for coming in third for Woodstock residents (of which there were a number) in the Grand Master category, which is the 50-55 age group. Afterwards, we looked at the race results online. He studied all the Woodstock residents who were 48 and 49 and would be moving into the Grand Master category next year. He looked at their times and hoped they would be hurt or on vacation next year so he might garner another medal.
- The sayings.
- Volunteering together. For example, we used to take a shift at the Woodstock Fair booth for the Woodstock Historical Society. Sometimes we brought along a tasty beverage in our cooler if you know what I mean. We would have fun of course. One year we counted the number of people with tattoos versus the number with bellies hanging out. I think the tattoos won. I helped him with his programs for the Historical Society and went to every one I could.
- He was an uncomplicated man. (His brother commented that they were both simpletons - I think they are just simple people.) He was happy if the sun came up. Life was good. He didn't like to listen to music when he was running - he just wanted to look around. There are usually at least eight things swirling around in my brain at any one time. I asked him once what he thought about when he was running alone. He said "Nothing." I believe him.
- He had no baggage - ex-wives hounding him, debt, problem children, etc.
- His care for the environment and open spaces. He never littered. He was not a zealot tree hugger though.
- Watching movies together. He could usually identify the mountains in the background of films, many of which he had climbed.He preferred Pulp Fiction, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Aristocrats, etc., but would watch chick flicks and foreign films - even Bollywood. One time I made him watch a movie about Austrian farming and incest (I didn't know what it was about - just saw that it was highly recommended). Afterwards he grabbed me by the throat and said "You just wasted two hours of my life that I can never get back!"
- The cocktail hour. He liked to sit and relax at the end of a hard day of work or play and enjoy a glass of wine or beer together and chat.
- Surreptitious glances at my chest (which he very much appreciated.) It was like he was a teenager trying not to get caught looking at boobs. It was pretty funny.
- His childlike qualities. He was so playful. He was a manly man, but his sense of humor and exuberance about life and new experiences were usually at about the 4-9 year old level. I don't think he ever would have become a stodgy old man.
- Safe driving. I am a maniac driver and tend to go too fast. I don't think I ever saw Doug exceed the speed limit. Most of his rust bucket jalopies were not capable of it anyway. I also never saw Doug experience road rage. He just went with the flow. He did get cranky over traffic jams though.
- Writing our annual Christmas letters together, and annotating the collage. Doug had a way with words, and some of the things he said never got old - they just kept getting funnier.
- Sitting on the front porch together. We have a great view that looks out over a bird-filled Christmas Tree farm. I had gotten him a pair of Adirondack chairs when we first started dating. We spent many hours together, having a lemonade, talking, eating, watching birds, and relaxing while we enjoyed the scenery.
- Filthy dirty sweaty hugs. Once after diving double play into the dry dirt during a DEP softball game, Doug gave me a big PigPen hug afterwards, surrounded by a cloud of dust. (He had forgotten his DEP softball shirt that day, and was wearing an old T-shirt he used to wipe off the dipstick in his car when he was checking the oil. It was covered with black oily stripes.)
- Frugality. Maybe it was the Scotch in him. He did not like to waste money. Neither do I, so this was a good fit. He would fix something before replacing it. However, after I reviewed our financial situation with him for the first time (so he would know what to do if anything happened to me), I asked him what his reaction was to our investment portfolio. He thought for a minute, and then replied "Well, I'm not going to eat rotten bananas anymore." He was never cheap when it came to gifts for me though - sometimes he spent more than I would have liked to get me something really special.
- Taking bubble baths together after being achy and dirty from working outside or hiking or climbing.
- His strength. He was built like a rock, solid muscle, a "mass of twisted steel and sex appeal." He could lift a gargantuan stone or log, two 80 lb. bags of concrete at once, and open any jar.
- Conceptualizing. He did a lot of really challenging projects. Before getting going, he thought about them long and hard.
- Cleaning up after himself. A job or trip was not done until everything was cleaned up and put away. He cleaned up the RV himself after debauchery on climbing trips. He did the dishes (often breaking some in the process.)
- An impressive tolerance for pain. If I got an itty bitty splinter in my hand I was miserable. he could have a stick poking out of his arm and not even notice it.
- Dressing up in costume for children's parties and Halloween. He ddin't care if he was the only costumed adult. He was a jester for medieval party, a mummy for a horror party (wrapped up in Ace bandages - one guest didn't realize it was a costume and thought he had been in a car accident), and as Rope Man. He always wore something on his head for Halloween (like an arrow.)
- Dancing. Doug was an awful dancer. He had no rhythm. He would fling his arms around and crash into people. He would just about yank my arm out of the socket trying to twirl me around. We saw some native americans doing fancy dancing once, and he said he invented it. But he didn't care. He loved to dance and was extremely exuberant about it. When a good song came on the radio, like I Drink Alone, he would grab me and we would dance around the living room. He occasionally did little celebratory, hilarious ballet moves.
I miss him so much. I missed him five minutes after when he left for work on Monday morning. I can't believe he's gone.