Tales of Retirement in Paradise
|Chapter 3: Husband - To Whom this Book is Dedicated|
Polly G. Vicars
Husband's and my lives are so intertwined that like the old song "Love and Marriage" says, "you can't have one without the other." So when I was writing the book I felt strongly that in order to feel a part of what I was writing one needed to know Husband, thus I started Chapter 3 with the following:
|In 1950 before he was Husband, he was in the University of Kentucky's ROTC and I always did love a guy in uniform!|
|1951: Husband on our Honeymoon in Sarasota, Florida|
|The Happiest Guy in the World - Retired in Paradise and Loving Every Minute of it!|
|Husband & Me - Hanging In There!|
I can't write another word about the remarkable life we found in México, without first telling you about my best friend, my lover, my helpmate - my husband of more than forty-four years, (now fifty-seven years) Hubert Vicars of Wheelwright, Kentucky.
Fall 1950, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky...
Dorothy's friend, Jim, was bringing two friends to the dorm. They were to take Dorothy, my roommate, and me on a blind date on what was to be the most important night of my life.
Excited, eighteen-year-old freshmen in our first week at the University, we giggled as we dressed in ankle-length skirts, saddle oxfords and socks (saddle oxfords and socks were a mystery to me as I was born and raised in Okeechobee, Florida, where saddles were put on horses and only boys wore socks) and tried to imagine what they would be like.
Nervously, we waited in the dorm parlor. In walked Jim, a handsome devil, with his two friends, but my eyes locked in on only one of them. He was a well built, black haired, brown eyed hunk with a shy smile. A strange feeling occurred down deep in my being and my heart whispered, "This Adonis is for me!"
But, alas, a tall, skinny, red haired, green eyed, wide smiling fellow sprinted up to me, and my Adonis moved on to claim my roommate for the evening. Red turned out to be super. He had an outgoing personality, loads of charm, and, best of all, Adonis as his roommate!
Many more dates followed. In fact we became an item - Red and me, Adonis and my roommate. We often double dated and a firm friendship developed between Adonis and me. We'd meet for lunch or take a walk to discuss our philosophies of life, our dreams and aspirations.
We counseled each other on our respective dating problems: Red was getting too serious for my liking, and Adonis found himself dating my best friends. Seems almost every girl he met fell for him. Roommate fell for him. Dorothy fell for him. Then perfect stranger fell for him. I advised him; I sympathized with the girls.
In time my strange feeling became clear, I knew I loved this gentle, fun loving, absent minded, bright young hillbilly from Eastern Kentucky's Appalachia!
The most severe winter of the decade, ice and snow and more ice and snow, was hitting Kentucky. I spent more time on my backside than I did on my feet (Remember where I was from) and part of my "strange feeling" was not the love bug, but the flu bug. I was sporting a red nose instead of red lips and dressed in the best gown the infirmary could provide (luckily I was again on my backside, so the flaps weren't open,) when he declared that I was the one and that "all of this buddy buddy stuff had to stop because he loved me!"
July 4, 1951 (Independence Day?)...
We spoke our vows in Okeechobee, Florida; Adonis, now Husband, and I embarked on an ongoing adventure marked by many more ups than downs.
Husband served two years in the paratroopers in the Army of Occupation in Japan right after WWII. The son of a coal miner, he had also served time down in that black hole where men toiled, seldom feeling the warm sunshine on their faces. He opted to use his GI Bill to assure himself a future above ground. When we married, he was well on his way to becoming an engineer and had already eared his commission from the Air Force ROTC.
He also had used up his GI bill. I still tease him that I wonder if that feeling he felt for me was actually love. Perhaps it was a feeling that he better find a substitute for the GI Bill and I was it?
I quit school, found a job and became the bread winner. We lived in University housing among lots of other couples in the same circumstances. The wives worked for PHT's (Putting Hubby Through) while the guys worked for their BS's, MS's, or PHD's. Our marriage survived the six months our friends had predicted. We made it through his graduation and his first job (actually his only job, since the next step was opening his own firm - but I'm jumping the gun.)
Several years after his graduation, we bought our first car. We worked in different parts of the city, so I would drop him off and pick him up at his work. Occasionally he would take me to work and keep the car. Almost always, I would sit on the steps in front of my office building - watching and waiting for him, and finally have to go back in to call.
When I asked why he wasn't there, he would gasp and say, "I've been waiting for you to pick me up!" This, what I call "absent mindedness" and he calls "intense concentration," has endured. It has, on occasion, caused him great embarrassment - such as finding a note, reminding him of a dinner engagement, prominently pinned to his lapel, while addressing an assembly of engineers.
I discovered a real love of teaching through a chance opportunity to do some substituting in a rural school, desperate enough to hire a teacher with my minimum qualifications - being able to read and write. So we decided I should finish my college education. It never entered my untrained mind that an elementary teacher would have to take such courses as physics and higher mathematics.
Husband, the most patient, the most supportive, the kindest person in all the world, stepped in before my complete breakdown could occur. He not only tutored me in the mysteries of the sciences and mathematics, but every Sunday he expanded the tutoring to include at least half of my classmates. If he were the bragging type, he could claim credit for the successful teaching preparation of many of Kentucky's best teachers.
He got me through all three years; I was a "real" teacher. I fell in love with my sixth graders and couldn't believe they were paying me to do something that gave me such joy. Truly, they barely were - $300.00 per month, which even then seemed miserly.
Here again, Husband became my helpmate as well as my love. He came to school and demonstrated all kinds of scientific principles with what the kids called "magic." He helped me write workbooks on the physical sciences to make up for their lack in the elementary schools at that time. When I awakened him at 5 o'clock one morning to ask him to explain Einstein's Theory of Relativity, he climbed out of bed and did it!
He supported me in ways that dwarfed the economic support I had contributed. And all of this long before Betty Friedan had taken pen to paper!
And we had fun! We spent lots of weekends boating on beautiful Lake Cumberland. There he introduced me to fishing. I became addicted and have never tried to kick the habit. We partied with our friends - usually potluck dinners followed by rousing games of hearts. No one had much money, but that didn't seem to matter.
Finally we saved enough money to buy a house. We painted rooms, we built shelves, we planted trees, and we built fences. We created a combination workshop-sewing room so that while he was building and fixing, I could make my clothes, something I loved.
He bugged me to sew something for him. I decided to try to make a corduroy sports jacket. I struggled to be sure the ribs all ran in the same direction, the lapels laid flat and the buttons matched the button holes. It was finally done, and when he tried on the beautiful jacket, it fit perfectly. Then he reached inside the left front and innocently asked "Where is the inside pocket?" Of course I had not made one!
He tried to sooth my hurt feelings and smooth it over. But, as you can plainly see, I never forgot those words! Months later, long after the incident left his consciousness (but not mine,) he asked me to make him a pair of Bermuda shorts, the current rage. When he tried them on and discovered I had placed the fly six inches off center, he didn't say a word. He just carefully laid them away and never again asked me to sew for him.
He started his own engineering consulting firm. After school I did his letters, billing, and filing from his basement office. Soon he was successful enough to have a real office and a real secretary, a good thing, because while you know that he is kind and patient, the same doesn't go for me. "Secretarying" for methodical Husband was pushing me past the upper limits of my patience.
After almost ten years, teaching was losing its luster, and I knew it was time to move on. I decided to go back to the University and become a landscape architect. What innocence! A landscape architect had to take lots of regular architecture courses to learn how to draw up plans and construct miniature models. All I wanted to learn was what trees to plant where.
I was lost! Husband came to the rescue, again. He bought me a band saw and taught me to use it so I could cut out the little pieces of wood and cardboard I needed for the models. He guided my hand at the drafting table and wiped up the tears of frustration I shed nightly while trying to draw those "@#Ç¿" plans.
My first project involved a concept for a new kind of city. Husband and I spent night after night in the workshop drawing and building. The weekend before the project was due we took the phone off the hook, and worked far into each night to complete the neatest model you have ever seen. Monday morning I proudly loaded the model into the car, and Husband drove me to school. I could hardly wait for the professor to see my work. I looked around the classroom at the other models and felt smug about mine. The professor himself seemed to grope for the right words of praise. He was groping all right, but not words of praise.
He finally came out with, "Mrs. Vicars, your project is so bad, if I couldn't see that you put so much hard work into it, I would throw it out the window!"
I held it in until I reached home and Husband; once again he wiped away my tears and convinced me to keep trying. I'm proud to report I pulled an "A" out of that class and did the same in my other courses. But it was just a matter of finishing the year. I knew I didn't want this as my life's work!
Almost accidentally, I moved from student to politics. Husband had a friend and client who was the campaign chairman of an underdog candidate for governor. I offered my service; I was off and running, stuffing envelopes and putting up posters. "Nothing in moderation" was (and is) my motto, so I jumped in with both feet. Our candidate won, became Governor, then U.S. Senator. He is currently the Minority Whip (our party having recently experienced a fall from grace in the midterm elections. He is now retired and venerated in Kentucky.)
I was a natural. I loved the excitement of politics and the people I met. Contrary to the media, most of the people in politics are not conniving, philandering sleaze balls, but are hardworking, caring and dedicated people who truly want to make a difference.
In those days, campaigns were always run on a shoe string and workers were paid a pittance if they were paid at all. The only tears shed during this phase of our lives were Husband's when he had to pay my expenses for the many trips I took on my candidates's behalf or for my donations to their campaign funds.
I went from volunteering to paid jobs at party headquarters and in state government. I spent the last four years of my working career on the senior staff of the first woman Governor of Kentucky, Martha Layne Collins, and as vice chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party.
Through it all, Husband not only put up with the long hours, the sometimes long absences, and on occasion, those darn tears, but he encouraged me to grow and stretch. With every step I took, he was my most vocal cheer leader.
After we retired to our paradise, Puerto Vallarta, I started fiddling around with this writing. You'd think by now I could finally stand on my own two feet and leave him alone. Not so; I still need his help. I take my pages to him to proof and ask for his opinions and suggestions. He always comes through for me, not only with good ideas, but with wonderfully nourishing praise. He is my biggest fan and has always had confidence that something would come of my scribbling.
This part, like the part Mrs. Gingrich told to Connie Chung, is just between you and me. Even though he jumped on the subway in downtown Tokyo just as the doors slammed shut and left me standing on the platform surrounded by ten thousand people speaking in a foreign tongue - even though he has at times forgotten my birthday - even though he forgot to meet my plane when I returned from an extended trip to the Orient - even though he is a charter member of the I'll Do It Tomorrow Club and I am the founder of the Let's Do It Now Club - even though he is darn near always right... when he walks into a room, I still get the same feeling, deep in my being, that I got that night so long ago when he walked into the room and into my heart. (Nothing to update or change here!)
Polly G. Vicars and her husband of 57 years, Hubert (a.k.a. "Husband") retired to Puerto Vallarta in 1988 and soon became active members of several charitable organizations. Polly is the author of "Tales of Retirement in Paradise: Life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" [a sell-out!] and "More Tales of Retirement in Puerto Vallarta and Around the World." Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the America-Mexico Foundation, a scholarship foundation that is their passion.
Click HERE for more articles by Polly Vicars.