It was around eleven years ago, we were living in Simsbury, Connecticut at the time. Oddly enough,around that time my husband Mike got laid off from his job. Much like now with his plant closing, there was enough uncertainty to last a lifetime not to mention that fear of the unknown and what may or may not lie ahead. Anyone that has ever been laid off can relate. The thought of having to move in with either of our parents was an option and after loosing my mom, I knew my dad could use the company. However, moving in with anyone when you have kids is challenging to say the least and not ideally what we wanted to do. It’s one of those things you have as a back up plan and hope you don’t have to use it.
Resumes were mailed and emailed out daily…over 500 of them. While Mike had done all he knew to do, there was a lot of waiting involved. During this waiting period, he thought it would be fun to drive down to the Danbury mall for a signing of Kathy Lee Gifford’s newest CD at the time, “Born for You”. He’d heard about the signing on the radio he kept in the shed, listening to it while he tinkered to keep busy. It was out of character for him to offer to do something a guy’s guy would consider “girly”. I found it sweet and didn’t hesitate to take him up on his offer. My sister was a fan so we thought it would be a neat gift for her and hopefully have a fun experience meeting someone famous. We needed the distraction and something fun to do besides wait by the phone while the walls closed in further.
The line was longer than we thought it would be and stretched far out into the mall. My youngest son Aaron came along (he was 2 yrs old at the time) and was a trooper… as long as he remained in his stroller. As we got closer to the table that Kathy Lee sat behind signing autographs, I couldn’t help but notice how tiny she was. I remember telling my Mike, “Gosh she’s tiny, I was born bigger than her”. We chuckled and kept moving slowly forward until we reached her eye shot and it was our turn to meet her. The first comment she made was, “What a cutie pie!” Of course she was referring to Aaron, whose chubby little cheeks always had a way with the ladies. She was very kind, in control but most of all real and gracious. We spoke briefly, most of which I can’t even recall now. I just remember how sweet and genuine she was and how much I appreciated that.
Kathy Lee signed her CD for my sister, taking care in getting the spelling of her name correct. We took a couple of pictures which she seemed happy to pose for. I mentioned how I had enjoyed her acting on an episode of touched by an angel we had recently seen and with my toddler in one arm and a signed CD in the other, we both thanked her and left. Several weeks later I found Kathy Lee through the Internet on a chat board responding to comments regarding her CD and how much fans missed her being on the show with Regis. I mentioned who I was, how we had met and was shocked that she remembered. She again was sweet and lovely, just like she was when we met her. What you see is what you get with her and I respect that. She was like all of us, imperfect but trying.
I happened to find these pictures a few days ago. I remember Mike taking them. I laughed at the look my son was giving Kathy Lee..lol. Even though it was a fun day, I’m feeling much like I did back then..uncertain. This day reminded me that no matter how, why or what changes, things seem to have a way of working themselves out. A lot has happened since then. It was a time in our lives that led us to Kansas.We don’t call them the good old days by any means. It was tough and challenging. It was during this particular time that I learned that true commitment to another human being isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes patience, understanding, but mostly respect. Respect in the other person for who they are when no one else can see, for their attributes, their flaws and for their authentic selves. It’s true you can’t live on love, forget that. Love comes and goes. I love pizza, basketball and a host of other things. But respect…that’s another thing entirely. Without respect, you can’t trust and without trust, you’re alone…even in a crowded room.
Meeting Kathy Lee Gifford is a fond memory for a host of reasons. I’m drawn to a time when most couples waver or even give up. Mostly I think of the word respect and all that it entails. It’s no simple task to create friendships or lasting relationships if there is no respect. If you fully respect only one person, that one person can make your life wonderful, joyous, peaceful and calm, even during the worst of circumstances. They can take a situation and put it into perfect perspective. They can give you an added hand holding, a shoulder to let out your emotions and a someone to hold onto when your afraid. That one person can know what you’re feeling without much explanation at all.
Mike is my “person” for a host of reasons I could never list or translate into words. He’s the person I trust most in the world and the one I want to grow old with. There is no need for specificity or thinking outside the box, it just is. Although we now find ourselves in a similar situation as we did years ago, I have confidence in what we have and that we can get through anything. We’ve been through hell and back over the years, certainly nothing you can see coming in advance…things that would break anyone. Often times if felt as though we were being ambushed..one after another. (I know a lot of people can relate to that). Sometimes there were things that happened that were out of our control, others were those “life happens” kind of things. Many were fantastic like the day we were married, the day our children were born, the accomplishment we felt when we bought our first home or when we paid off our car. Somehow, with God’s help, we got through them all.
You see, it’s never been about the size house we were cramped into, what we could afford or what was coming next. Mutual respect is what keeps us going. During this trip down memory lane I am additionally reminded of how fortunate I am. For this, I am truly thankful. I am thankful for him and the life and family we have together. It is in this spirit that I want to wish my dear husband Mike the best of Father’s Days. To know how much he is loved by myself and his children, and that our respect and admiration grows exponentially with each passing day.
Happy Father’s Day honey, I love you more than you will ever know and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of our lives together brings.
Thanks to Kathy Lee too! 😉