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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/913232-Happy-61st-Birthday-Cork
Rated: 18+ · Book · Opinion · #1241026
Thoughts on things from the news, TV, radio, and daily life that hit home with me.
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#913232 added April 5, 2018 at 9:10pm
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Happy 61st Birthday, Cork!
         Tomorrow, Flag Day, -June 14th would have been my late sister-in-law Marcia Hart's 61st birthday.
         She passed away on Thanksgiving Day, 2014 at the age of 58.
         I wanted to make an entry in honor of her birthday for the way she stood by my late wife Linda day in and day out from the time she was old enough to understand the true meaning of loneliness.
         Cork, as she was very affectionately known within family circles, was basically Linda's only friend through the early - up to age 16 - years of Linda's life. She was Linda's best friend and confidant, and the most trusted person in Linda's life until Linda and I met after a pit orchestra rehearsal for the school musical, at 11:00 PM on Tuesday, March 8, 1966. And even after Linda and I married in 1968, Cork remained, and would always be a very important part of Linda's life, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
         Linda had been an epileptic since the age of eight, and back then, when little was known about the condition, those epileptics who had the Grand Mal seizures, the most severe kind, were often avoided by many people. We all fear the unknown; we all fear things we don't understand. But for kids who were epileptics, back then, that often meant a lonely life outside of family. And Linda's situation was no different. This was another example of a situation where kids can often be more cruel to other kids than anyone else (their favorite nickname for Linda was 'Roach'). And Cork stood by Linda through it all (along with the rest of her family, of course, but you know what I mean), even though she was seven years younger.
         The night Linda told me she was an epileptic, she fully expected me to walk out of her life like so many other friends and classmates had over the years. After about an hour or so of nervous, yet extremely important sharing, when I was finally able to convince Linda that I wasn't going anywhere, that I loved her far too much to let even the epilepsy make one bit of difference in how I felt about her, she melted in my arms. That was also in 1966.
         Right from the start, Cork was there, lovingly teasing Linda and I if we said anything to each other that Cork took as being even remotely romantic. After any such statements on our part, if she was within earshot, Cork always said, in a smiling voice, "Aw, mush, mush, mush!" To which Linda and I always responded, lovingly, "Aw, hush, hush, hush!'
         On the afternoon of my senior prom on May 20, 1966, I asked Linda to marry me. The next day, Cork overheard Linda telling their parents about my proposal, and how I'd caught her completely by surprise. Shortly thereafter, when Linda went to tell Cork the news, she found Cork on the verge of tears:
         "What's the matter, Cork? Why the long face?"
         "When you get married, we won't be able to talk like we have all these years. And I like doing that."
         Linda immediately knew Cork had heard the discussion Linda had had with their parents, and opened her arms. Cork jumped at the chance for that hug. "Oh, yes, we will, Cork!" Linda said sternly, intentionally sounding like a drill sergeant to leave no doubt in Cork's mind about what she was saying. "There's no reason I can't come over here a half dozen times a week and bug you, you know! I still need you, Cork, and don't you forget it!", Linda finished firmly.
         "Thanks, Squeek! I love you!" Cork said as she worked at drying her eyes.
         I love you, too, Cork."
         In the summer of 1968, Linda and I, both 19, decided to elope. When that night came, things caught up with Cork, age 12 now, once again. Linda and I had both been talking to her for a while, trying to show her that she would continue to be an important part of our lives, no matter what. It wasn't working as well as we'd hoped. Linda took me aside and said, "Let me talk to her alone, honey. I need to show her the bond we have will still be there." I nodded understanding and went downstairs to wait, with their parents.
         About 30 minutes later, Linda came down the stairs, stepped up to me, embraced me, looked up at me and said warmly, "We're going to be over here a lot even after the wedding. OK, honey?"
         I ran my fingers through her hair, kissed her tenderly and said, "I know very well by now how much you mean to her, and what she means to you, sweetheart, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
         "Thanks, sweetheart. I knew you felt that way; I guess I just needed to hear you say it. I love you."

         And we did just that. At least a couple times a week, and often Cork would spend weekends with us. We made very sure that Cork saw us stand by our promise of her importance in our lives, and we never regretted it.

         Cork, sweetie, thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing by Linda through all those years when she didn't have any true friends, for all those wonderful times as a youngster when you teased us about being in love, and for always being such a wonderful and important part of BOTH our lives. And thank you, too, for standing by Linda even now, until my time comes and I can once again share my love with the family that so willingly supported me emotionally when I left my family behind so my parents couldn't keep Linda and I apart anymore. To paraphrase what you wrote to me on the back of one of your school pictures, "To Cork - a great girl I'm lucky enough to have as a sister-in-law" I love you.

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