Every year on March 3, I make a birthday cake, German Chocolate cake made from scratch, for my husband.  It takes awhile and it’s not my favorite in the world, but it was his.  He died fifteen years ago this year.  We don’t spend a lot of time sitting around grieving, but we do remember and we laugh a lot.  I just make the cake and tell the kids it will be ready and they show up.

I met Alan when we were both 16, just before he turned 17, at a church dinner during our junior year in high school.  I was there with another boy and he told me I just had to meet this guy, he was so funny.  I was hoping to get to know another boy I liked, but that didn’t turn out to be so great.  Anyway, I remember this tall guy rushing through the room with some other boys, acting goofy.  I actually thought he was younger than me and that was that.  But, for some reason, I never forgot that moment I first saw him, it stuck in my head.  That summer, we met again at a church retreat where we spent a week on a small college campus.  This time, I did get to know him and really liked him.  He was tall, about 6’2″ at that time, and weighed about 220.  He was silly and fun to be around, liked to dance, and we could talk to each other.  I don’t know what we talked about but I wanted to see him again when we got back to Tulsa.

He had enlisted in the Navy Reserves and went to boot camp right after we got back.  I remember writing him for the two weeks he was gone.  We had a retreat reunion right after he got back and he had lost 30 or 40 pounds at boot camp and I remember riding on his shoulders in the lake at what was then Skyline Amusement Park, which had a small lake, roller coaster and other rides.  It’s now Post Oak Lodge in Jenks.  We hit a wall after that.  He wanted to go out with a friend of mine and I admit she was a little hotter than I was.  Finally, after many phone calls and conversations with my girl friends trying to figure this out, I asked him to a dance my social club was having.  We had our first date in September and danced and danced.  I’m not sure how I got him to ask me out again or who badgered him into it, but we really did start dating and that was the beginning.  We were seniors in high school, I was skinny and had braces on my teeth that came off right before the prom, he grew two more inches and was skinny with his ears sticking out and I was in the advanced classes and he wasn’t even close, but we filled each others gaps (a quote from Rocky).

We went to separate schools in the fall, he went to two years of active duty the next year while I stayed in school, and we wrote a ton of letters to each other.  Long distance calls were expensive and we didn’t have computers, cell phones, etc to communicate.  By my senior year in college, he was home and returned to school as a sophomore and we got married during our two week Christmas break.  I graduated and started teaching as a graduate assistant while he went to school, he started working for my father in the summers, we had our first daughter, and we finally came back to Tulsa for him to work full time for Daddy.  Three more children came along, and we lived our life together with a big fun family.

I can’t say what made us a couple.  He always made me laugh but he could be moody, my brooding Scotsman.  I always understood him though.  All those talks and letters for 4 1/2 years had given us a pretty good sense of each other.  We were always each other’s best friend, we shared the same values, we loved our family, we loved each other, and we laughed so much….so very, very much.  We would look at each other when we were the maddest and sometimes break out in laughter at the absurdity of it all.

We lost him way too early through cancer that attacked fast and furiously and took him right after he turned 53.  Life moved on for all of us, but we always take time to stop and remember.  As I bake his cake today, there will be a flood of memories, sweet, funny memories that surely sift into that cake.  I will always love my sweet guy.  Happy Birthday, Alan!

Karen & Alan