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Romance African American

My name is Richard Morrison and I was born on Sunday, August 5, 1934 to my proud parents Arnold and Martha Morrison in Paterson, New Jersey. Being my parents’ only child afforded me many opportunities to learn different things in life. Since I enjoyed working with my hands, I took to making different things out of wood and working on cars. I would tinker with just about anything I could find. In fact, that is how I met Emma.

While I was attending East Side High, I took up shop class because it allowed me to continue to work on woods and metals. One day when I was coming out of the workshop with other classmates, I inadvertently bumped into a girl and made her drop her books. I quickly helped her pick them up and when I looked into her eyes I thought she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen in my life. I asked her what her name was and she said Emmaletta Bronson. I asked her if I could walk her home after school and she agreed. Emmaletta was so smart and she loved to read about many things. This was very interesting to me and I wanted to learn more about her. It was fall of 1950 and time for homecoming so I asked if she would like to come with me as my date and she said yes.

Since then, Emmaletta and I would be together every day. I would walk her to and from school carrying her books. She was a freshman at the age of fourteen and I was a junior at the age of sixteen. She and I began going steady as a couple shortly thereafter. We remained together all throughout high school.

I graduated East Side High in the spring of 1952 but I wanted to remain near Emmaletta. Since I enjoyed working on cars, I decided to go to Passaic County Community College to become a certified mechanic. The college was not far from the high school so I was able to continue walking Emmaletta to and from school each day. Those next two years went by quickly for us. We had grown close and I began to call her Emma for short.

June of 1954 was a great year for us. Emma graduated East Side High on Thursday, June 10, 1954 and I graduated Passaic County Community College the following week on Friday, June 18, 1954. Emma enrolled in Passaic County Community College for nursing. I had gotten a mechanic position at a local foundry maintaining and repairing fleet vehicles. In my first year at the foundry, I was able to save up enough money to purchase a home and even get a car. I decided it was the perfect time for me to propose to Emma. I asked Mr. Bronson for Emma’s hand in marriage and he gave me his blessing. I purchased an engagement ring from a local jeweler and took her to the finest restaurant where I proposed to her. Emma was overcome with joy and quickly said yes. We decided there was no reason to wait and planned a small wedding for Saturday, August 20, 1955.

Our honeymoon was spend in Atlantic City, NJ at the Claridge Hotel. We had a glorious week there walking on the Boardwalk and enjoying the beach. Emma would continue getting her college education while I worked to care for the two of us. We decided we would wait on having children until we were financially ready. However, we both enjoyed each other so much, that the time to have children had gotten away from us. Neither of us had any real close relatives and we both had lost our parents in death some years ago. Emma and I had become accustomed to being with each other on a daily basis and we felt we only needed each other. Now here we are in June of 2019 with only each other and I have to face my worst fear of being alone.

Emma took ill with breast cancer the winter of 2017. She battled as long as she could and now she is in the final stages. The doctors say all they can do is make her comfortable. She is in hospice with twenty-four hour nursing care in a companion room with two hospital beds and I occupy the second bed. Even though Emma is weak, she still manages to smile for me. She doesn’t say much anymore but I still see the love in her eyes.

Emma and I have been together over sixty-four wonderful years. We worked together as a team. I would provide most of the finances, do the handy work around the house, maintain the vehicles and household equipment, and care for all of the lawn work. Emma would care for all of the grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, and household chores. It worked out well for us over the years and we never seen a reason to change things.

Never have I lived alone. Upon moving out of my parent’s home, I moved into my own home with Emma. When I was at home, my mother cared for all of my personal needs. Emma took over that care once she and I moved in together. While I have performed some simple tasks when assisting Emma with household chores, I have never totally took care of all the things it takes to keep everything in the home running. I haven’t slept alone in all these years I have been with Emma. I am so accustomed to having her in my life. What will I do with no one there by my side? How will I continue without Emma?

Emma and I did discuss this issue before she got to hospice stage. She wants me to be strong and get involved in support groups that could help with loneliness, shopping, and daily activities. I’ve looked into a few support groups for widows and I have even contacted a few services that contract for house cleaning. The local laundromat provides services that will wash, dry, and fold your clothes. I was hoping to find someone who could also prepare me a few meals each week. Emma suggested Meals on Wheels. I contacted them and found out that they will provide meals as well as wellness visits to those who are homebound. I would rather not be homebound but that is what I have become since Emma has taken ill. I have even considered a retirement community.

The doctor said I am depressed, which is normal for what I am going through. Being so worried that I will not be able to handle everything without Emma has made me ill. I am not eating as I should and have lost strength as well. Since I have been staying here in hospice with Emma, I have been getting more meals and we have visitors each day from the local volunteer groups. They even bring Milo who is a trained companion helper dog.

I have considered getting myself a companion dog like Milo. It would be nice to have an animal that could provide some company and sooth pain. The doctor did say that animals also help with depression. I have many options to explore. However, right now, Emma needs me to be attentive to her. We are in our final days of life per what the doctor predicts. I want to focus on spending this time with her and not worrying about what will happen to me after she leaves.

This morning I started my routine that I have been doing for the last three weeks by getting out of bed, bathing, and dressing. I went to the side of Emma’s bed, let down the railing, and scooted my chair in real close. Holding Emma’s hand, I began to speak to her and said, I love you, I will be strong, I will do all the things suggested, and I am even thinking about getting a dog. Only that morning, Emma was not moving her head or focusing. Her eyes were open but very cloudy. Her mouth was open and her lips appeared to be very dry. I took one of those small pink sponges on a stick, put it into some water, and placed it on her lips and tongue. However, it did no good this time. I only got moans from Emma as if she was in severe pain.

I rang for the nurse to come into the room and check Emma’s vitals. When the nurse arrived, she checked Emma and told me that she was in pain and it was time for her morphine medication. I asked why Emma’s mouth was hanging open like that. The nurse told me she would have the doctor come in and speak to me about it. About twenty minutes went by which seemed like an eternity before Dr. Anderson came into the room. Upon his arrival, he immediately checked out her vitals, scanned her eyes, and checked her IV levels. He then looked at me gravely and told me that Emma was actually in her final hours of life and all that is left to do is make this as comfortable for her as possible.

I broke down and began to cry. Dr. Anderson came over, gave me a big hug, and told me it would be okay and that I would make it through all of this with the help that he and his staff will provide me. He then turned and walked out the door as he wiped tears from his eyes. Shortly after he left, the staff began trickling in all saying their goodbyes to Emma and giving me a hug before they left. The parade went on for a good portion of the day until it was just me and Emma left alone again. I then climbed into her bed and laid there beside her as I held her tightly in my arms. I told her how much I loved her and that I would miss her greatly. We were together for the rest of the evening until she took her final breath. Tears rolled down my face as I felt the life go out of her body. I laid there quietly until one of the nurses came in when the monitors went off alerting that her heart had stopped.

The nursing staff was just as sad as I was to see Emma go. We all stood there for about an hour before someone helped me to me get out of the bed and get to my feet. They then prepared Emma’s body for the morgue. I sighed as my heart shattered with shear pain. My pulse quickened and my breathing became shallow as my worst fears were emerging into reality. I was now alone and had to make choices that would change the rest of my life forever. My whole body began to convulse and I broke down in unbearable emotional pain sobbing.

After collection myself, I began packing up all of the things Emma and I had in the room. Once I got everything packed, I used one of the hospital carts to push it to the parking lot to load into the car. Nurse Smith had assisted me in getting everything into the car. I hugged her one last time before saying goodbye.

The drive home was long and daunting while my mind raced with many different thoughts. I fought back the tears and concentrated hard on my task of driving. Once I arrived home, I took all the things out of the car and into the house. I placed everything in the middle of the dining room floor. Then I sat on the sofa and stared off into space thinking about all the things I had to do. I sat there until nightfall. After taking a shower, I went to bed. However, it was cold and lonely without Emma. I tossed and turned all night not sleeping much at all.

The next morning, I decided it was time to do what I had to do. I called the local funeral home and arranged to have Emma cremated as per her wishes. I told them I would be in later that afternoon to pick out an Urn. Next, I got dressed and went to visit a few retirement community homes that were in my price range. I found a nice one that had everything I needed already on the premise. There were barbershops, grocery stores, workout centers, swimming pools, activity centers, movie theaters, and many other attractions.

I chose a small one-bedroom apartment and joined the support group for widows. My next call was to the moving company where I requested to have me and Emma’s things packed and moved. Then I called a realtor and placed our house up for sale. Without Emma, it was no longer a home. Finally, I went to the funeral home and viewed all the Urns they had available and found the perfect one. I arranged for a private viewing for myself the following day prior to her cremation. Since we did not have any living relatives and no friends, there was no need for an actual service. It had taken about four weeks to get everything completed with the move. What I was unable to take with me, I donated to the local Goodwill.

Once in the new apartment, I placed Emma’s ashes on the beautiful mantle that was in the living room over the fireplace and put our wedding picture next to it. I had one final task to complete. I called the company that had Milo and asked where I could find myself an animal like him. They gave me the number to the company that specialized in the training of companion animals and I called them. I gathered all the information I needed and set up an appointment for the next morning to go in and view the dogs.

Once I arrived, I sat down and learned about all the different things the dogs were able to do and the different sizes and needs each animal they had could offer. Then I searched all the dogs in my needs category and found a small black long hair Chihuahua whom I named Noodles. We took to each other right away and I knew I had found the right companion. We went back home and bonded.

Several months had went by and I was settling in well. The widow support group I had been attending was a great help. Today was my turn to speak. While nervous, I still stood to address the group. Nothing can ever replace Emma. However, I am thankful that she and I talked about the options that were available before she died. It helped me to face my fears of being alone and how I could receive assistance in my transition of change. Moving into this retirement community, joining this support group, and getting my companion dog Noodles, has given me support I never knew would be possible. Had I not faced my fears, I may not even be alive today. I miss Emma but I have gained many new friends and things to do. I am thankful to all of you for your support and I am content in my new surroundings. Then I sat back down.

Everyone thanked me for sharing my feelings with them and we went on to the next person in the group. Life is truly different now that Emma is gone but I continue to face my fears head-on each day and I am growing.

September 07, 2019 00:32

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