home . Obituary . Twenty six years together (by Bonnie) . Autobiography

OVER 26 YEARS TOGETHER

by Bonnie E. White, July 2002

Roger and I married January 24, 1976. On the morning of January 25 I looked at my hand and said to myself, "Bonnie Belle what did you do!" (many of you didn't know that my name had a "ding dong" on it. I cut it off as signature lines were always too short. But I gave it to one of my daughters, who still at least uses the initial 'B'.) For the next three months I was wavering regarding this Union with Roger, but Roger in that time gave me assurance it would last when he said he would not engage in wordy, angry arguments. He explained that when one of us would became angry, the other would say nothing until the anger was done, and when the anger was gone the issue would be discussed and resolved.. Believe it when I say the English Language is a "bummer" because as soon as one of us started the discussion with, "YOU SAID" and interpreted what we thought we heard, it turned into astonishment for the other.

The Home Project

Our first project after the wedding was a home. After much searching with Micki, our Realtor, we decided to get a home in Briarhill, Solon. But getting that home wasn't easy. Our first two attempts failed: on the first, the couple changed their minds about leaving the area, on the second, we saw it the day before our departure for a two week ski trip in Vail, CO, and it was sold before our return to Henry Louis. (who became a wonderful friend and neighbor)

Our third try looked "iffy" to start: the house was next door to the second house, and had been on the market all along, but Micki held back showing it to us as she termed the house to be "hodgey podgey." But the property was exactly as Roger described he would like to have, and the property did not have to have a swimming pool or tennis court as Roger "had been there and done that."

When we came out of viewing this house, I can still see Roger standing in front of the garage with his hands in his trouser pockets and looking at Micki saying, "For whatever it is worth, I am glad to have seen it." In the "wee" hours of that night I awoke to find Roger out of bed and for a third time drawing on a floor plan. He showed me that... if we eliminated this wall and closet, and moved this wall back a few feet, and made the front the back, and the back the front...

I sleepily said, "OK, We have a house." and went back to bed... Possession of the house was June 1, 1976, and soon after interior demolishing started.

Learning to travel with Roger

In July (1976?), Roger made plans for a business/pleasure trip to Toronto and then started a leisure drive west. Traveling with Roger was usually at a snail's pace. When he was driving he loved to take photos, stop at the ice cream stands, etc. I wondered if he planned for me to be the designated driver to get the miles behind us because when he drove his head was always on a swivel, but when I drove he went to sleep (perhaps my lead foot bothered him).

No plans were made as to where we would spend the nights, and some of the facilities he chose were places where I knew he could afford better. One such place was really rustic... no, beyond rustic, it was flimsy!, even for Canada. That night it rained, and the rain brought to mind the house that I grew up in Akron, Ohio.

The next day Roger was at the wheel when we arrived at The Narrows, which is on Lake-of-the-Woods, and borders the Manitoba and Minnesota. He parked in front of the Trading Post, and we went in to find a large room with lots of Trading Post "stuff" in it. The room was "L"-shaped and on the back wall of this "L" was a cabinet with Waterford Crystal.. After finding an interesting piece I turned to point it out to Roger, only to discover he was no where to be seen. I saw a door that did not go to the outdoors but into the next building and as I approached it I could see fishing items... LO and BEHOLD, there was Roger buying a rod and reel, leaders, hook, bait and a fishing license, BUT ONLY FOR ONE..

He gathered up his purchase and taking my hand led me across the street to where there were numerous fishing boats with motors, and as we walked across the bouncing bridge to the boat house, another memory came to mind...

I remembered when my Dad and Mother, Grandfather, Grandmother, Great-grandmother (all on my Mother's side) would camp out each summer at Twin Lakes, Ohio, and fish.. My being about 8 years old (maybe younger), and with no one else to keep me company, would finally call out, "When are you coming in?" "Come and get me." At which sometimes a boat would come in and I would get into the bow seat.. Never was I given any information about fishing or given a rod.. The seat became hard, the sun hot, and as I wiggled and squirmed would try to talk only to be reprimanded that that would scare the fish.. so I turned on the seat and let my legs dangle over the edge and splatter the water with my feet.. again, don't do that you are scaring the fish..

So a fishing person I am not and I am not convinced Roger is either..

But this trip was to be nothing like a Twin Lake outing. Roger asked the boatman, not about renting one of the motor boats, but if one of the BIG houseboats was available? He looked over the smaller of the two, then asked me, "What do you think?"

My reply was, "I can't think until I know what your 'think' is."

He said, "Let's rent it for a week."

As my jaw was about to drop, I remembered what Bill Millian told me a short time after we were married, "If you want to have a good time, go along with whatever Roger comes up with. It may seem strange when you start, but it will be worth it."

So I turned to the boatman to learn what we needed to buy for a week -- which was food only -- and that there was a grocery on the right end of the Trading Post -- when we got there it certainly didn't look like a Safeway, Albertsons, Kroger, or A&P, but it had what we needed. I remember thinking as I stocked up, "Having fish for dinner is not likely."

Lake-of-the-Woods is descriptive in itself. We were given a map that detailed channels leading onto the various lakes, and places to beach and tie up for the night.. Lake-of-the-Woods is a wilderness lake -- nothing else was around: no houses, gas stations or phones -- wilderness only. From time to time we would hear a motor boat in the distance, but we never saw another body.

One afternoon Roger was at the helm, and the weather was changing for the worse. As we came out of a channel on to a lake the houseboat started rocking from side-to-side, and BREAKABLE dishes and glasses came out of the cupboards! As I caught them; put them into the sink; slapped doors shut, I harped at Roger saying, "Get off this lake!"

He said on the other side is a channel with a place to stay. We made it, and what a wonderful cove it was. We were surrounded with stone cliffs and protected so well that we used the grill on the deck for cooking (how it stayed put is beyond me).

The next morning after breakfast, Roger started taking down the tie lines and asked me to start the engine and to back up. We found that the storm had pushed the a lot of water into the cove when we had come in for the night, and now that the storm had passed we were solidly beached!

I panicked and spieled that we needed to do this, and that, and the other thing... and as I came up for air. Roger turned to me with a smile on his face to announce, "We have another problem on board."

I groaned, "What can that be?"

Still smiling, he said, "WE have too many chiefs on board and not enough Indians."

Well that certainly stopped me in my tracks and as his grin grew and as I remembered my performance, we both laughed, and I said "OK, Chief."

It took us most of the morning but we did get out.. One comment regarding the fishing equipment: we went out in the dingy one morning, I sitting on a cushion and reading the book we were sharing, Praise The Human Seasons, and Roger being unusually patient. Then the boat started tipping side-to-side as Roger's legs and feet started moving up and down... He reeled in a lengthy Walleye and we did have one fish dinner.

The Road was not always smooth

During the next ten years roaming the country in an RV our marriage needed help. That's why Roger asked me to visit Dr. Reznick when we left Helena, Montana, after repairing our RV. To this day, I cannot pinpoint what was bothering Roger, but I agreed to do so. Later, our neighbors spoke of having attended Marriage Encounters and we agreed to try that also.

Then later still in the early 90's, I found something was missing and found a marriage counselor to whom Roger agreed to meet with. All of the above was helpful but as time went on the pattern fell into the same slot. I was feeling alone..

Early in 1992, Roger flared up twice over something that was inconsequential in Sun City, AZ, and I made an appointment with our physician, RD Thompson, and advised him that I needed to know what I was facing with on Roger's health.. I can see him to this day bow his head over his desk, and look up to tell me he had been observing dementia for quite some time. This explained it all, and as I drove down Green Road in Cleveland during a torrential downpour and rolling the words the doctor had said in my mind.. I said to myself, "If you think you are doing a lot now, just wait."

Within the next year, Roger and I were listening to Dan Rather -- the only TV program he would watch -- but when the string of ads would come on Roger would always leave to do something he considered more productive, and he MIGHT remember to return in time to hear the next segment. To do this he would pass the chair I am in working a crossword puzzle or doing needlepoint.

This particular time I realized his feet were pointing at me, and as I looked up, he had this grin on his face and he said, "That 'Chief and Indian story' from Lake-of-the-Woods has turned around, hasn't it?"

It startled me so that I could only say, "Yes, dear, I'm afraid it has."

And we never discussed it any further. He accepted his fate as gentlemanly as anyone could possibly have done. I am not saying, it was easy for him. And he did not give into it without a fight by using his computer to play the game of GO, and when that failed him he continued with Gomuku and the solitaire card game. And he and I played 500 Rummy two or three times weekly right up to the end -- our last deal was June 20, 2002 -- ten days before he died on July 1, 2002.

Many of you met up with Roger's idiosyncrasies, peculiarities, and oddities, and I want to share with you what I received in a Holiday card that describes him eloquently.

Ruby Hollis wrote, "It must be difficult for you to cope. as Roger has always, since I've known him, done peculiar things and could make life very difficult for others, although to him they were humorous." To the end his temperament and humor did stay in tact..

SO BE IT..

-- The End --

home . Obituary . Twenty six years together (by Bonnie) . Autobiography