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Marriage For Life

Updated on February 27, 2018

Til Death Do Us Part

Tommy and I felt a strong attraction to one another on the first evening that we were introduced. We enjoyed similar music, we both love to dance, and we have similar moral convictions. The reason that my friend introduced us, was that she wanted me to have a date for an upcoming work party the following weekend.

Before Tommy and I parted on that first evening, Tommy made it clear that he was interested in going to the party with me on Saturday evening. This second date began a five year dating relationship.

Tommy was quite handsome, a good dresser, a great dancer, and he loved to tell me jokes that made me laugh. Our dating relationship was basically fun and carefree. We normally saw each other two to three times a week. Saturday night would usually include dinner and dancing. Tommy had many friends, and we were often invited to party's, and dances.


Tommy and I, each had a previous marriage, which ended in divorce. When we met, we each also had a child from our previous marriage. His daughter was four years old, and my son was only fifteen months old. Tommy was sharing an apartment with a buddy, and I was living back home with my parents, who were helping me raise my son.

What Next? - Photo:billselak

Neither of us was in a hurry to remarry. But, finally it became clear to me that I did want more children, and that we needed to decide if marriage was the next step for us.

Oddly enough, neither of us had really talked about it. I had married "very" young, and at this point of our relationship, I was only twenty five. But, I began to feel that if I didn't have another child soon, my son would be an "only" child. And, my then six year old son had begun to question me about when he could have a baby brother or sister.

As I thought a little more about our situation, I began to think, if Tommy wanted me to be his wife, he would have asked me by now. So the next time he called me, I told him that I thought five years of dating was long enough, and I thought we should go our separate ways.

Tommy was in shock! What? "Is there someone else," he questioned? " I said, NO! There is no other person. But, I have just recently realized, that I want to be married, and have more children. And, since you have never asked me to marry you, I am assuming that you may not want to marry me.

After a few more conversations, Tommy convinced me that he did want me to be his wife, and that he could not imagine life without me. We were married only a few months later.

We have now been married for 39 years on May 14th, 2011.

Tommy and Trudy with Todd - May 14, 1972

Marriage Is Not Always Easy - Photo:sarawestermark

Unless you are "two peas in a pod" and agree on everything, (Which is unlikely). Marriage is not always easy.

Marriage, more often, is quite different from the carefree world of dating.

The mortgage, bills, meal planning, shopping for a family, cleaning up after a family,

maintaining a yard, taking care of babies and children, etc, etc, etc.

I have a few suggestions that may help to take a marriage a long way down the road, and have worked for us.

"First", you both must be committed to one another, and the marriage.

Also, you must trust one another. This is only possible when each person is Being Trustworthy,

It is said that, opposites attract. While although, Tommy and I certainly could have great fun together, we found, in marriage that we disagreed on a great many things that have to do with every day living.

Even with many disagreements, we have always tried to quickly get back to what ever we were doing before the disagreement. In other words, even if you cannot win your argument at that time, move on without unreasonable anger, and in a reasonable amount of time, forgive, and go on with your regular daily routine, and continue on with your life. there may be a better time to continue the conversation. As the saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day". Drama of any type, such as; calling names, or extreme anger while disagreeing will only lead to additional problems. This is especially important to think about if you have children present.

Find a time when you are both calm, and try to talk through the problem again. Be wise and choose an appropriate time and setting to try to resolve difficult issues.

For some couples, if there is to much anger, it would be wise to include some counseling, and continue working through your difficulties for a peaceful resolution,

Remembering The Good Things - Really Can Be Helpful - Photo:henry8

Tommy has always remembered to give very thoughtful cards, candy, flowers, etc. for birthdays, Mothers day, Valentines day!

He has always been extremely handy, building, and fixing most anything. If I buy a ready made bookshelf that needs to be put together, for example, he will have it done within 24 hours. But, he has also made me a gorgeous bookshelf from scratch. Plus, using his many talents, he has built additions and decks on our home, and many other projects, through the years..

When he was working he often called me before leaving work, to ask if I needed anything, or should he stop to get milk or bread. When he retired, at one point, he did all of the grocery shopping.

He always took my side, (even a few times when I didn't deserve it).

While Tommy at times could be quite difficult to live with, and no one could make me any angrier. I still never doubted his love for me. I have always known that he would defend and protect me 'til his death.

Life Is Bitter And Sweet

Beginning of Declining Health

We began to notice about five years ago that Tommy's energy level was declining, we assumed it was his age. But, after not being able to fight off a bad cold, he was diagnosed with emphysema.

Tommy was diagnosed with emphysema approximately four years ago. His energy level, and breathing has continued to decline. He has been on oxygen, at home, for 18 months now. When a person has emphysema, a cold or bronchitis can compromise their breathing enough, that hospitalization becomes necessary. In the hospital a person can receive more intensive treatment that helps to clear the lungs.

Unfortunately, Tommy has needed hospitalization twelve times in the last 2 ½ years. He has only 37% lung capacity left.

He did smoke when he was young, but was also a volunteer fireman in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was also overcome by smoke a few times.

His trade was an electrician. While working, many times he came into contact with chemicals that were not always kind to his lungs.

During his time in the Navy, and while working as an electrician, Tommy was also exposed to asbestos.

January 2011

Tommy is coughing more than usual. He is not feeling well. He goes to his internist doctor, who immediately sends him to the hospital, where they can again give him more intensive treatments. After 4-7 days, he is back home, feeling better. But, this time, after only a few weeks, he begins to not feel well, again. Another trip back to the doctor. More antibiotics, and prednisone. This continues for two more cycles.

The Sad News

April 2011

The doctor orders a CT scan, and calls us the same day with the results. Tommy has a growth the size of a tangerine in his left lung. He tells us that it appears to have all of the markers of a malignant tumor. He wants him to have a Pet scan, and then go to a lung oncologist.

May 2011

Tommy will see three cancer oncologist over the next few weeks. The first doctor wants to do a biopsy of the tumor. The biopsy shows that it is a malignant tumor.

Next we see a chemo-oncologist, who tells us that chemo- would be dangerous for Tommy's already fragile lungs. The emphysema has already extensively damaged his lungs. It would destroy even more lung tissue, making breathing extremely difficult, or worse.

The radiologist basically tells us the same thing. It would compromise his breathing even further to the point that he could possibly be bedridden. At Tommy's age, which is now 80, and the condition of his lungs, which is quite fragile, his cancer is inoperable. We, along with his doctors believe, for however long he has left, he will have a better quality of life without treatment.

He is still able to drive to the store, when he wants to get out of the house. At this point, he still has a pretty good appetite. He is able to take his own showers, and walk around in the house, going wherever he needs to go, without help.

He says he is not in pain. He has lost 25 pounds over the last few years. But, he is still often told he does not look his age.

"Til Death Do Us Part" - Photo: la fattina

Tommy has always made me feel very protected. When we were young, sometimes I would forget to lock the front door when we went to bed. Even now, when he is in the house, I always feel safer.

We naturally, have always slept in the same bed, and considering all of the years we have been married, we have spent very few nights apart.

We all know that we will not live forever on this earth. We all will die at some point. But, saying goodbye, is never easy, even for those of us who believe in a hereafter. So for me, I will not say goodbye to my husband when we part, but instead, I will say "Honey, I will see you soon".

Comfort for Christians

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalms 23:4

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Roman 6:23

For God has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5b

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8

The Final Chapter - June - August 2011

Hospice Enters Our Lives

We enroll with Hospice on May 31, 2011. We have decided together that with hospice he would be able to stay home as long as possible. The doctors say that Tommy probably has about eight months to live. It could be more, and it may be less.

But, without treatment, the disease begins to take over rather quickly. Each week we begin to see a slow decline. There is much more pain, and breathing is becoming more difficult. This is where hospice swings into action, with their "earth angel" staff, who specializes in pain management.

By Tommy's birthday on July 17, 2011, he has become much weaker and more tired, and is now spending a lot more time in bed.

Over the next few weeks there is regular monitoring and tweaking to keep Tommy as comfortable as possible. By the beginning of August, we decided that it was the right time for a hospital bed. We placed it right up next to our bed. We could still reach out to touch one another. And, during the night, I was always there if he needed me. He stayed in our home until the end.

His last five days were spent deeply sleeping.

On August 14, 2011, at 6:30 P.M. my husband quietly passed away.

No more suffering, no more pain.

Tommy also served in World War II


His ship, the "USS INTREPID" was bombed while stationed in the Pacific,

and he was wounded.

He received a Purple Heart during the war.

Please Share Your Thoughts With Me

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    • exotickitten731 profile image

      Renee Jaco Whitfield 

      7 years ago from Bogalusa, Louisiana , United States of America

      Aww this story was truly beautiful heart touching to me, May your Husband Tommy Rest In Peace and Sorry For Your Lost.

    • Keepingscore profile image


      8 years ago

      Beautiful story

    • Trudy Hanley profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Domique21: With so many couples writing their own vows at this time in history, it is quite possible that this particular wedding vow may not be used as often as it once was. But, I believe that it still is being used. It goes like this.

      I____,take you____, to be my wedded husband (or wife). To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part. And hereto I pledge my faithfulness.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Till death do us part? is it still seen on marriage nowadays?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love and companionship are the basis of marriage.Fond memories and his love will be with you forever.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Trudy, thank you so much for sharing this story...I am sorry for your loss. I read every word and the pictures are wonderful. Such a touching, heartfelt story. I am thankful that you have the assurance that you will see one another again. I noticed that he was on the USS retired and docked in New York...we have been on it and taken on the tour...told about the bombing you mention. Thanks for adding this to the plexo on my lens, it's an honor to share it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Trudy, This was very real and very true. Tommy is a wonderful person and I am truly blessed to have known him all these years. I love you both very much. Stay strong and God will be there for you.

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      8 years ago

      Very touching story. God never forsake us.He will certainly lead us safely throughout our life.

      We recently completed 19 years of marriage life on May,25th 2011.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This was very touching. My heart genuinely goes out to your family as you go through this very sad and difficult chapter of your lives. I always appreciated Tommy's character, and that you always knew where you stood with him (even if you weren't standing in a very good spot...). Tommy is a tough cookie, I know he will finish strong. He has my sincerest respect and compassion.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      How BEAUTIFUL!! Life is never easy...God never promised it would be. He only promised He would never leave us or forsake us. Though your life together wasn't perfect, God blessed you with love, closeness, security and family. Your story has touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. It is NEVER good-bye for those who know the Lord...only see you soon! My prayers are with you!


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