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Column: Husband, father leaves legacy of love

Courtesy photo
Cinderella is embraced by her prince.

Every now and then, life hands you such a profound gift that you carefully fold it away to unwrap and savor again.

Such was the memorial this past week for a friend's husband of 59 years. I misread the time, and arrived an hour and a half early to the church. I decided to stay and wait, enjoying the quiet.

If I had not come early, I would have missed those precious few moments with Esther, the bride who had lost her prince. Theirs wasn't "just a marriage." A friend told me that Esther and Rob literally did everything together. Another said, "Theirs was love like it is supposed to be."

Tearfully, Esther told me that it was as if half of her had dropped away. She looked bereft. Then the shine returned to her eyes, and she said, "Come see his picture!"

Oh, he was handsome! A strong, cleft chin, a thick, shiny head of hair, and tall! She sat beside him, lovely, tiny and obviously happy. Heads inclined toward each other, they looked as if they shared a secret.

"I had a Cinderella life with him," Esther said.

"He was the perfect husband."

They met on a blind date, Rob just out of the military, and Esther newly graduated from nursing school. They raised twin boys and made memories. Now, her prince was gone, but she told me she knows where he is, without pain or care. And that she hoped those who came to his memorial would feel God's touch in their own lives.

During the service, a family friend sang, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." When the friend suggested the song to her, Esther said, "Oh! That is exactly how I felt the first time I saw him!"

Their sons stood to speak. Not once did they mention the time their dad bought them the latest toy, game, or car - although one did say his father taught him to ride motorcycles, much to his mother's chagrin! They didn't talk about expensive trips or amusements.

Choking back tears, the men related how their 6'4" dad would turn them upside down so they could "walk on the ceiling" on their way to bed each night. Oh, how they giggled! Brad talked about his dad's "yo-yo," the tape measure he was never without. A precision pattern maker, Rob always measured things. By the time Brad was ready for school, he said, "I knew all my fractions, down to the 16th of an inch!" Brad became a chemical engineer.

The men told of their pride in a father who never stopped learning. "He read a page in the dictionary every day to build his vocabulary," Bruce said. "He never answered our questions. He made us go look it up." Bruce became an attorney.

They told of playing word games around the dinner table, how their dad taught them chess and backgammon. How he passed on his great love of the outdoors, and his legendary sense of humor.

Bruce said he and Brad, as children, had to have the door cracked so the ambient light would bathe their bedroom at night. He remembers his mother and father talking, visiting with guests, always laughing. He recalls the joy in their home.

Now, he said, another door is cracked open, left that way by their father.

As he finished his remarks, Bruce stood and gazed at his mother. He expressed the great love his father had for her, and he pledged that he and Brad would carry it on.

Rob Houston gave his boys something priceless - a legacy of time and love.


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