When I was about thirteen or fourteen I was a skate guard at the roller rink on South Walnut
Street in Brazil. I think Dick and Ann Burchell were managers at the time, although I was employed by several managers there. I have to admit, I was a pretty good skater. A skate guard's job was to kind of supervise somewhat rambunctious skaters, daredevils if you will, that showed off and skated too close or too fast around new or inexperienced skaters. I had to make sure that if it was a “couples only” skate, that singles were not out on the floor. My job also included making skaters spit out their gum. No gum on the skate floor! Later I was reminded that I even wore white pants there occasionally. If any of you remember that place, it had a wooden floor which at any given time wasn't the cleanest floor. Wearing white pants and risking a fall took a bit of self-confidence. One slide across that floor would have pretty well ruined those pants.
There was a long wooden walkway, between the length of the skate floor and the wall. This was to enable non-skaters access a small refreshment area where parents, kids and teens could hang out. One girl in-particular would come to the rink on Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes after attending a movie at the Cooper Theater up the street. She never skated, but was a frequent visitor. Her brother skated and she would watch him. I remember she had blonde hair, a little longer than shoulder length. That beautiful hair would swish to the left and to the right as she walked briskly to the refreshment area. Her purse strap was always swung over her right shoulder. I am not sure how often she came and went before I noticed her looking at me from the corner of her eye. Whenever that was, that was when I started paying more attention to her entrances and exits. I finally asked someone what her name was, and was told it was Susie. I learned she was Tom Crosley's sister, so I assumed her name was Susie Crosley. (I later discovered that she was Tom's half-sister and that her last name was McDonald.) I was very much attracted to Susie, but I felt she was out of my class... too pretty to be interested in me. I didn't even try.
Through the years I moved on in life and so did Susan. Susan ended up in a 25 year marriage that produced three children. That marriage ended in divorce. She enrolled in beauty school and became a hairdresser which enabled her to start nursing school. Following her graduation from nursing school, she was employed at several nursing homes in the area. Eventually, she took a job in a medical unit at a nearby prison where I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor. It was in the lunch room there that I saw her again after several decades. We talked for a bit there and later on the phone from our homes. The phone conversations led to a dinner date and six weeks later we married.
After nine years of true love, Susan became ill with glioblastoma, a rapid spreading form of brain cancer. Doctors had told us she would have about 18 months before cancer would end her life here on earth. She passed away after four short months.
A love story as deep and devoted as ours could never be written, doing it justice. We went absolutely everywhere together, walking hand in hand along the way. As we traveled together through life, we traveled together as death approached. I was with her all along the way; at home, in the hospital, the nursing home and finally home again where I would be at her side the last hours of her life. I was standing at her bedside when she exhaled her last breath on earth, while her next breath was in heaven.
I miss Susan more than words could ever express. I mourned then as I still do. I am reminded what a friend said to me shortly after she passed. He said, “At least you can say you kissed Susie McDonald”.
My dream did come true.