The Handsome Woodsman died Nov. 1 in that terrible head-on collision on Highway 99. His job was to “sell the sun” and he had been driving back to Chico after an appointment. Another driver veered into his lane and both drivers died.
There’s absolutely nothing good about this, but I’m so grateful that it had been a good day.
Hours before the accident, we had a tender moment in the driveway. I had arrived home after lunch with a friend. Dave was ready to leave, but had lingered to grab a quick kiss.
I noticed for the first time that he was growing a beard for winter, and petted his face.
Later in the day he sent a sweet text, but my phone battery was dead, and I didn’t get the message until after the accident.
That afternoon he talked to his son, Ben, who lives on the East Coast. It’s likely that the last words Dave heard were “I love you Dad.”
I am also so glad I was not at work that day. We listen to the police scanner in the newsroom and I think it would have been terrible to hear those early accident reports, to watch my coworkers dash out to cover the news story, then to find out it was my guy.
I know this grief thing will take a while.
A lot has happened in a week and a few days. Its tragic, yet beautiful, how people have reached out, most of them awkwardly and not knowing what to say. I feel loved. I know Dave was loved. I hope people will turn to the left and the right and love on each other.
Dave was a singer/songwriter and I’ve had his songs in my head almost constantly this past week.
The thing about living with a musician is you rarely hear the song in its entirety. You hear the guitar riff, perhaps 10-12 times in a row. Then there’s a chorus. The lyrics might even change each time you hear them. I would laugh sometimes at a gig, because the songs sounded so different when I could hear them from start to finish.
Now I’m listening to the songs in my head more closely, and wishing Dave had written down his lyrics. There are several songs “about a blonde” that will be lost except for in my memory.
Thursday morning a song popped into my head that was not part of Dave’s repertoire, “Let it Rain,” by Eric Clapton. Somehow, the last four lines of that song said everything that remained to be said.
SOME THINGS TO GROW
Dave loved mushroom hunting, the rugged California coast, creating his own parking places, petting our cat and afternoon naps. He was a strong believer in God, and almost always apologized for his part in an argument. He had recently grown to tolerate my rubber chicken and couldn’t help making puns.
When we first started dating about five years ago, I was impressed he could rattle off most of the names of plants in his neighborhood, or maybe he had studied just to win my heart.
He also loved gardening, but his approach was much more functional. His job was to grow the vegetables. I took care of the flowers.
Much fun has been had ridiculing his eggplant and the black, plastic truck-bed liner used as a raised bed.
These days I visit his part of the garden more often, talking to him and imagining him sitting in the faded, green resin lawn chair, smoking a cigar.
A few weeks ago the Handsome Woodsman texted me a photograph.
“Why did you send me a picture of dirt,” I asked.
“Look closer,” he wrote. “We are going to be proud parents of lettuce.”
I did look closer and saw the tiniest of green sprouts emerging from the big brown blotch in the digital pic.
His timing had been perfect. Seeds in the ground, then came the rains, then warm weather. Now his winter garden is my gift.
He also removed the rest of the summer plants, leaving just one eggplant with several purple fruit hanging like early Christmas ornaments.
I know some of you who know me through the column will want to reach out. A few people have sent me flowers, and I love them, but my house is small.
I would encourage you to buy a gardenia plant, or some other fragrant favorite, and give it as a gift to someone you love. Please send me a photograph of your plant, in honor of Dave.