Gettysburg Farm TT
A few years after my first marriage ended a friend, Linda, told me about an organization that held dances every Sunday night. I looked into it and joined Parents Without Partners (PWP). I so enjoyed meeting other people in my situation and having a new social life.
I met one man I really cared for. We dated off and on for a few years. During this time I also became friends with a few women. One new friend, Marie, introduced me to her good friend Clare who was recently divorced.
On several occasions the three of us would meet for dinner, etc. Around this time (1988) country dancing (mostly two-stepping) was all the rage. Every night another club had a Country Band. One club was in Almonesson, NJ. I had been there years before. Tuesday nights was known as singles night. Marie and Clare had been going there for a few weeks. They asked me to join them. At first I refused. They persisted. Okay. I told a man I had dated a few times I was going to that club the next Tuesday. He said he would meet me there.
Clare and Marie along with another PWP member, Ann Marie found us a table and we settled in for the evening. This man in a cowboy hat asked one of them to dance, then me, then another one of them, then me. etc. They said they had danced with him the last couple of weeks and he was nice. As it turned out he was there with another woman who had walked off to visit with some friends. My "date" finally arrived and as I was talking to him, the band returned from break and this Cowboy walked across the floor and asked me to dance. I left my date to dance with Cowboy and sit at his table. His date returned, he introduced me to her and she went back to her friends. The rest is a story for another time.
Oh, one year later Clare and Marie came to the Cowboys and my wedding.
Less than two months after our wedding, Clare was again at PWP. A man saw her from the back and thought she was a woman he knew and asked her to dance. By the end of the night, he asked for her phone number. When he called her, he asked if she would like to go to Longwood Gardens with him. Longwood is a beautiful complex originally owned by the DuPont family of Delaware. She accepted and would later realize that Tom has a God given talent for growing flowers, trees, all sorts of plants and an eye for landscaping. Their yard would be the envy of all who appreciated such beauty.
Two weeks after they met Tom asked Clare to marry him. We were all shocked when they married a few months later. It was a perfect match. Tom adored his Clare as she adored Tom.
Through the years Leonard and I kept in touch with Tom and Clare. They always came to our annual summer gatherings at our house. We would meet for dinner on occasion. They would invite us to their house for dinner. We helped when they moved to another house. This was a friendship we all cherished.
After we sold our house and started full timing I would call Clare every few months to catch up. When we were back in the area, we would meet for dinner or just to visit.
A couple of years ago, Tom called me with tears in his voice. Clare was in the hospital. Cancer. Once she was discharged I called her. She was on chemo. Losing weight, losing hair. But every time I called, she said she was having a good day. She NEVER complained. That was Clare. Clare never complained. She never had a negative thing to say about anybody. Only positive.
She would tell me that with the chemo she would end up back in the hospital for a few days. Then sometime later when I called she said she was done chemo. Weight was coming back. Hair growth too. But then the cancer would attack somewhere else and further treatment needed.
Last summer we were in NJ and I called. She was doing great. No chemo, no cancer. We decided to go to lunch. When we got to their house, she had made lunch for us. She looked great. At a perfect weight and lots of energy. So good seeing her looking healthy.
When we got back on the road, I continued to call every few months. Several months ago when I called she told me the cancer had attacked again. But again, no complaining. She was starting another round of chemo.
Two weeks ago Tom called me. He told me Clare was on Hospice care. He was shaken by this as one would expect. I asked that he keep me informed. Last Friday around 5:30 pm I called Tom. He apologized for being groggy. He said he was meds for his emotional state. He told me it would be a matter of hours.
Clare breathed her last in very early morning hours of Saturday, August 13 with Tom holding her hand. Twenty-seven years to the day that Tom and Clare found each other.
Thank you Clare for insisting I go out with you that night back in 1988. Thank for you being my friend. Thank you for your caring ways, never complaining, always only seeing the positive and being an example of loving grace to all who knew you.
And to Tom. In our thoughts. In our prayers. You know you are blessed. You had the very best. Clare.