I first met Anna Fuller McCall a couple of years ago when I spoke at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she serves as an RN. I’m grateful she agreed to share her thoughts and memories on the 30th anniversary of her beloved husband, Richard’s, death and the birth of their son the following month. I trust you will be as touched by her story as I was.
Tonight I am reflecting on the last 30 years. I can’t believe it has been 30 years since the love of my life Richard, died. At the time I couldn’t imagine surviving another day much less 30 years. But God has been good and here I am. God’s grace is amazing.
There were times I was angry, times I could not stop crying, times when the depths of depression threatened my very existence,but God was always there. Raising a child is a scary process and it was even more frightening to do it alone. I wasn’t perfect, far from it, but Richard’s son turned out to be a wonderful, loving, kind, gentle man…so much like his father.
Many say time heals all. Not with grief. I still miss him, I still have days when I cry. They are fewer,and most days when I remember him I smile. But no, grief does not end. However I think it is one of the reasons I have such a passion for my work. I deal with death and dying on a regular basis. Although one person’s grief isn’t the same as another, it is a common ground. A certain compassion and empathy come from that shared pain.
So, tonight is one of those times. One of the times the grief is raw and the tears are falling. I know they will end and I will be fine. But every so often the love that I have for him just runs out of my eyes for a bit as my arms ache to hold him and my ears strain with the desire to hear his sweet voice tell me how much he loves me.
But I am so blessed to have our son. He was never granted the opportunity to meet his father, but he is so much like him. I know Richard is so proud in him as am I.
When I was in the hospital in early labor (one of multiple times) Richard would rub my swollen belly and speak to our son, “Now JB (Jay Roberts), I know you are in a hurry to get here and I can’t wait to meet you and hold you. I have so many plans for the three of us, but you ain’t cooked yet. You gotta stay in the oven a little longer son.” Amazingly, the contractions would ease and the monitors would stop their crazy chatter as my precious son was soothed by the voice of his Daddy. Once when things had settled down, he stepped outside to calm his nerves with a smoke break. Before he got back the contractions were going crazy. One of the nurses ran outside to find him (no cell phones back in those days) so he could come back in to talk to JB -and it worked. He refused to leave the room after that no matter how bad he wanted a cigarette.
During my pregnancy, the TV show Alf (about an Alien Life Form) was quite popular. Burger King was giving away a series of Alf stuffed toys in their kids meal. Each week he would stop by and get the newest addition to save for JB. One day a young boy asked, “Can I have that toy? It is the only one I am missing.” Richard smiled and said, “I’m sorry this is for my son, but wait there for just a minute.” He returned to the counter, bought another complete meal (with the Alf toy the boy desired and gave it to him with a smile (on both their faces).
Anytime I was hospitalized, Richard stayed with me at night. We couldn’t afford for him to be off work, (truckers only get paid when they are working) but as soon as he finished he drove that huge rig to Women’s hospital and searched for a parking area and walked (sometimes quite a distance) to see us. He always curled up in the bed next to me because neither of us slept well apart. One morning an old nurse came in (as I reflect back she was probably the same age I am now) and said, “Now honey, this is just how she ended up in this condition in the first place!” We both laughed so hard we cried. Before he left that morning he assured me that when it came time for delivery he would be there no matter what! He said ,“Baby, I’ll make that rig burn rubber to get here and God help anyone who tries to stop me! I will be by your side the entire time. We will bring our son into the world TOGETHER!” He then kissed my big belly and spoke directly to JB, “I have to go to work now, take care of your momma, no surprises, no trying to break out early. Don’t you dare show up with out me! I love you son!” He then kissed my belly, and kissed me and left for work.
By far the hardest thing I ever did was to be wheeled to the delivery room, a little over a month after that conversation, with only his photo for comfort. I had my family there, I could never have survived without them, but I wanted and NEEDED Richard. God granted me grace and despite the delivery being an emergency C-section, we both survived.
Richard was truly an amazing man. I so wish JB could have met him in person -but he will one day.
It helps me to reflect on and share the beauty of Richard’s heart. This by NO means covers it all. It is just a small glimpse of a wonderful, loving, and kind man.
RIP my love, until I can hold you again in my arms – I LOVE YOU, ALWAYS AND FOREVER! – 💜