Love comes in the bloom of a rose.

Love can always be found when the rose bush blooms. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford
Love can always be found when the rose bush blooms. Photograph: J Gerald Crawford

I WAS ONLY THREE when he came into my life.

I don’t remember time before him.

God must think I am special.

He gave me an exceptional gift.

I write with gratification.

My brother-in -law was an influential part of who I am.

Family called him Buddy.

Others knew him as J.W.

They met at a gathering at the scenic Cahaba River on a Sunday afternoon.

Nancy was fifteen. Buddy was eighteen.

Faye Crawford

He was with another girl. As the fun afternoon ended, the group of friends dropped Nancy off.

Her new friend told her to be good. She smiled and said that she had her doubts about him.

That statement made an impression.

Maybe it was her deep dimples and shoulder length auburn hair that began a loving sixty-three year relationship.

Buddy enjoyed telling this story:

“When Nancy and I were dating, we sat in the living room and talked.”“Before we knew it, Faye was at the top of the stairs saying, “Nancy, please come to bed.”“I’m scared.”He thought that daddy prompted me to say that. In other words, it was time to say good-night.

They married on June 4, 1950 at a Justice of the Peace in Columbus, Mississippi.

Home for the newlyweds was three small rooms within a large house going up Red Mountain Parkway in Birmingham, Alabama.

On December 31, 1952, Nancy gave birth to their first child.

Alan and his mom lived with Buddy’s parents in Moundville, Alabama for several months while his dad was away in the Navy.   Because of deafness in his left ear, Buddy was soon discharged.

When the family was reunited, they moved into an apartment within a colonial house on a hill.

November 20, 1953, Alan’s sister, Ann, was born.

They moved into a charming two bedroom house.

On June 20, 1955, their third child, Wayne was born. They bought a larger house in Brighton.

Time passed, and they became grandparents of six and great-grandparents of eleven.

My brother-in-law, Buddy.
My brother-in-law, Buddy.

Buddy, an ordained deacon, was faithful in his church and community. He was a member of Oak Park Lodge # 101 in Oxford, and Past Master of Victory Lodge, and member of Scottish Rite Valley.

The position as Chevron USA Bulk Terminal Manager (Terminal Engineering) transferred him to Anniston, Alabama. He retired after thirty-eight years of efficiently operating safe storage of fuel products, inspection, and maintenance of all facilities of the terminal assets.

After thirteen years of calculating payroll and deductions, issuing checks, entering changes in exemptions of insurance coverage, and supporting Barber’s Dairy by operating the switchboard, Nancy joined her husband in retirement.

Home for the next three months was their luxury Fifth Wheel Prowler travel trailer. Twenty-seven states and Juarez, Mexico were visited covering 8,661 miles. For the next twenty years, Central Florida was home during the month of February . Twice a year for twelve years, they enjoyed picturesque Pigeon Forge, Tennessee surrounded by the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. The last trip was June 2010.

Buddy was diagnosed with bladder and colon cancer. Their dream home in the alluring neighborhood of Amberwood was sold . The next move was near Ann in Montgomery.

After sixty years of marriage, September 21, 2010, at age eighty-two, Pulmonary Fibrosis of the lungs took Nancy’s partner to another realm and left her companionless.

She experience an increased sense of grief.

Days and weeks slowly turned into months. Loneliness threatened to overwhelm her, and to destroy her joy, pleasure and spirit. Her isolation seemed unbearable . She was hurt and afraid and longed for the shoulder and warm embrace of her lifelong mate.

Occasionally, an extra large wave almost knocked her off her feet, but she summoned the strength to stand up, again.

Recently, I called her. Love letters from Buddy, written on scraps of paper, envelopes, and napkins, were in her lap.

She sat in her favorite chair , reread and relived the cherished times.

Her helpmate had filled her every need.

Nancy never received florist flowers.

Her husband planted rose bushes in a sunny spot in the backyard just for her.

Wonders of nature, the roses required special nourishment.

Adding rich soil ,good drainage, spreading enriched fertilizer and layers of mulch, and frequent water produced gorgeous, sweet-smelling blooms.

With each single delicate rose or full bouquet presented to her, their love grew.

Trimmed stems placed in a specific vase on a small table by the dining room window brought a bit of sunshine in the form of roses.

This couple experienced an intensified sense of happiness that many never do.

The downside of loving so intensely is that the pain is so much more acute.

Nancy relocated to Georgia to be near their sons.

Buddy’s rose bushes were transplanted.

His love for her still lives.


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