James worked three jobs: driving a truck, driving a bus for the school, and being the youth leader at church. He also began college again, having quit in his younger days, standing up in class and speaking out for his beliefs. He wasn’t afraid to tackle a difficult situation, conversation, or project… or relationship. James was a busy man. But his No. 1 job was to take care of me. And anyone that knows me knows that is a full-time job. He would get my Bible and my treats for my Sunday School children all ready (he was always on time and had it together) and stand in the bathroom doorway, leaning his shoulder against the doorjamb, watching me finish with make-up. I would say, “I’m hurrying,” and he would reply, “Just take your time; I like watching you.” He was the husband the Bible talks about when it tries to teach us how to interact as husband and wife. If he told me once, he told me a thousand times, “I was born to take care of you.”
He did take care of me. He was a neat, orderly person; everything had a place and it should be kept there. I am a slob and drove him nuts, so he taught me and encouraged me and showed me how to be orderly and how good it feels to be orderly. He took care of the yard, the pool, the vehicles, cooked, washed clothes, cleaned. Anything I could do, quite literally, he could do just as well or better.
He didn’t need me. He loved me.
And he loved my children. Even though they were older, he still felt a responsibility toward them and had concern about their lives. My youngest son was no exception, my youngest son who had finally been diagnosed with schizophrenia, my youngest son whose behavior became more and more absurd, my youngest son who would eventually take the life of the man who understood him the most.
James had done research about schizophrenia for his college classes and would call and talk to the doctors concerning my son’s illness, the medications, the subsequent hospitalizations, doing what he could to get the help needed, the help that never came, the help that could have saved his life.
Yes, I am still angry.