in his backyard haven

Saturday, 9 June 2012

From Joanne Irwin

     I hold cherished memories of my friendship with Peg and Den. Unconditional Love personified, Hospitable, Generous, Humorous, Faithful, and Faith-Filled are Peg and Den.
Air Force years cemented our friendship. Dennis and my husband were Titan II Missilemen. We were all stationed in Wichita, KS, and lived at Eastborough Arms Apartments.
     In 1970 Peg and Den were already tested and seasoned parents of Liz and Joe. I was pregnant with my first, and a real greenhorn when it came to children. Peg was Mother Superior. I remember crying to her at 6:30 a.m. my first morning home with my baby daughter. After a sleepness night and oodles of diaper changes, I cried in frustration as to why my baby was peeing so much. Peg's response, "For heaven sake, girl, put the plastic panties over the diaper." You see I was going to be the perfect mom; my baby would never have diaper rash. I was kidded for years over that and Den milked that one! We all enjoyed hearty chuckles over my newbie mom experience. I learned so much from both Peg and Den about parenting. Thank you.  
     In 1980 we had a business move to Tulsa, OK. We were thrilled to be close again to Peg and Den. Wichita was just 3 hours away! Yeah. More reunions, laughs and good times. At that time Den was being transferred from Wichita to Little Rock, and he used our home in Tulsa as a half way point. We'd feed him, let him nap or sleep over to rest, and then he'd be off again. We were pleased to be his watering hole.
    Five years later our family vacationed in CA, with stops along the way; one to the Grand Canyon. Peg and Den were traveling to CA at that time, too, and we decided to meet at the Canyon for an overnight. What a time! The restaurant didn't know what hit them when we all piled in. But the memory that got top billing was when Den pulled up in his van with the Grand Canyon Suite blaring. He wanted his children to take in the scenery with all their senses. We chuckled, but I marveled at his serendipitous ways. Den always kept the child within alive and kicking!
    Den also delighted in sharing his home movies and we were thrilled to watch them. Peg continually asked, "Are you sure you're interested in this?" And I was. Den beamed as he told us all about his skiing adventures. 
    Once we spent a weekend with O'D's in Wichita. Den was preparing to leave for Little Rock. He was on a time schedule. Well, he couldn't find his car keys. We all searched high and low for over an hour. Where were his darn keys? Panic was beginning to set in. Finally, finally, there sat the keys, on top of the outdoor garage light. Who would have looked there? Glad someone did! We milked that one to death!
    Six years ago Peg and Den visited us on Cape Cod. How wonderful to catch up, be in their presence, reminisce and show them the beauty of the Cape. I was glad they were doing some traveling and connecting. Four years ago we met in Naples for an overnight before their family Disney cruise. Again, a blessing to be with them. What I remember so vividly is the pride that Dennis held when he spoke of all his children and grandchildren - what they were doing and where they lived. 
    I recall, too, of times I'd call, and this is when Den was helping with the care of Peg's mom. He spoke of her so lovingly. Den is an example of how a man should live his life.
    Den used to constantly tease me and say, "Jo, you're so easy. I could sell you a frig if you were an Eskimo!" We'd all laugh and chuckle. Years ago I'd look at life through rose-colored glasses, and Den would remind me of that.
    Some of my most cherished memories were the hours we spent in debating the political scene. Viet Nam provided fertile ground. We may have been on opposite ends, but we'd always walk away smiling and chuckling.
    Right now, as I write, the tears are flowing. I remember a day back in the late 90's when I was driving home from work and this overwhelming urge came over me to call Peg. When I arrived home I told my daughter that I just had to call Peg. I felt something was wrong. This is the first time that I experienced such an overwhelming presence. And so I called. Peg said, "Jo, how did you know? I wanted to talk with you. Den was just diagnosed." That began their journey with lymphoma. Den won and was blessed with years beyond his initial diagnosis. And he soaked in all his time with faith, hope, love and laughter. Den never lost that twinkle in his eye. That's something that stands out in my mind - that twinkle. That inner child, so alive, curious, and filled with love of life. 
    Oh, his trains. How I enjoyed hearing his stories of riding the trains in Colorado. 
    Den, know that you will always be in my heart. I'll always stay in touch with Peg. Be sure of that. I love you both, and am so grateful for the gifts you gave me along the way. You were always there during both the joyful and painful times. If someone asked me what is one of the greatest treasures I've stored in my life, it would be our friendship. God love you, hold you, and give you peace. I love you both!

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