This post may surprise many of you, but it’s something that I need to do. I know that I’ve shared a lot of the negative things about my exhusband over the years, so you won’t read any of that in this post. This is all about the good stuff that so often gets lost in the mess. Over 25 years ago, I fell in love with a young man named Jerry Karow. He wasn’t a strikingly handsome man, but I was attracted to him in many ways. I was at a point in my life where I was looking for some excitement and adventure. Jerry was independent and a bit on the rebellious sidejust what I was looking for. The first time that we went out, he took me to a place on State Street in Madison to play pool and go dancing. These were both firsttime experiences for me and I had the time of my life. I felt so free and uninhibited. It was all very exciting. That’s the way our relationship continued – new and exciting experiences around every corner. Jerry introduced me to things that I never knew existed. He taught me so much. He made me feel special and I fell very much in love with him. I loved Jerry’s deep bass voice. He was not a big man, but he had such a beautifully rich, deep voice. He loved to get a reaction out of me by using his deepest voice to say “Hello” when I answered the phone. It always got me, no matter what mood I was in; even if I was mad at him. I loved to hear him sing. It gave me great joy to have him sing next to me in church. I also loved it when we would slow dance and he would sing into my ear. He especially loved to sing the “Unchained Melody”. He knew it would melt me every time. Jerry & I were married in an outdoor ceremony on August 18, 1984. We had a wonderful, small wedding and only invited the people that we wanted there. The weather was absolutely beautiful. It was everything that I had hoped it would be. We stayed at the Sheraton Inn the first night. Then we went camping at the Flying J Campground for one night and we attempted to ride a bicycle built for two. That was quite an adventure. The third day, we went to the Wisconsin Dells and spent a day at Noah’s Ark. It was a wonderful time. We came home totally broke and started our new life together. About 6 months later, I thought I was pregnant. We were scared at first, but also a bit excited. When I realized that I wasn’t pregnant, we both cried. Three months later, I found out that I was expecting for sure. I went into labor at about 8pm on January 13, 1986. Jerry got a phone call about 30 minutes later from his best friend who had a flat tire and needed his help. Jerry went to help him, much to my dismay. When Jerry got home, I was pacing in our tiny apartment living room. We went to bed and I woke up at 1:30am and knew that things were progressing quickly. My water broke. I went into the bedroom to tell Jerry that we needed to go to the hospital. He rolled over and went right back to sleep. He finally woke up and took me to the hospital. From the point on, he was incredible through the rest of my labor
and delivery. I’ll never forget the ride home from the hospital. He drove like an old grandpa. I wondered who this man was and what he had done with my husband. Jerry wasn’t much for diaper changing, but he loved to hold Diana. As she got older, he loved to play and wrestle with her. He loved to throw her around and swing her like a “sack of ‘tatos”. He also loved to take her “hunting”. He’d put her in the back carrier and off they’d go into the woods. They spent hours doing this. He had her shooting a gun before she could speak in sentences. Diana absolutely adored her daddy and she loved this time with him. When Diana was just 5 months old, I found out that we were expecting another child. Unfortunately, I miscarried in my third month. Once again, Jerry stepped up and was truly there for me. He was my rock. He had to be because I was a wreck. It wasn’t until I was back at work that Jerry allowed himself to deal with our loss. It was a tough year, but we got through it. When Diana was three years old, we found out that another child was on the way. We had been trying for a while, so this was very welcome news. I remember telling his family on Thanksgiving Day in 1988. He was so proud. During my pregnancy, Jerry shared with me that he wanted to get some help with some personal issues that he had. He entered a 10 month inpatient program in my 7th month of pregnancy. It was hard to let him go, but I believed that this was the best thing for our family. We were able to write to each other and talk on the phone one time each week while he was gone. Those letters were priceless to me. Jerry was growing in his faith and sharing what he was learning with me through them. Our daughter, Lychelle Elaine was born while Jerry was away, on August 1, 1989. We had a friend videotape her birth so that Jerry could share in the experience. He was able to come home in September for her Dedication. I remember the day he went back to Missouri. I had him leave a sweater that he had worn while he was home. It had the scent of his cologne on it and I slept with it for weeks. Things are a bit foggy for the next 45 years. So, I’ll skip ahead a bit to when the girls were a bit older. We had many wonderful family times together. Jerry loved our girls. He enjoyed playing any kind of sport with them. This often included basketball or volleyball, and he usually got hurt or strained something in the process. We had a very good relationship with our chiropractor. He loved to play practical jokes on them. He got a charge out of sneaking up on them and scaring them half to death. He had a wonderful sense of humor which I see quite a bit in our youngest daughter, Lychelle. He & Diana really connected when it came to anything automotive or detail oriented. They just thought the same way. When Jerry & Diana would get talking about one of those subjects, Lychelle and I would get blank looks our faces and find something else to do. Jerry & Diana were also an unstoppable team when it came to
Rook. Their two minds working together were simply no match for Lychelle & I. It was not a pretty sight, at least from my viewpoint. Jerry enjoyed hearing me sing. He cried every time. This began before we started dating and continued after we separated. I could never look at him when I sang. I remember the first time he heard Lychelle sing on stage. He cried like a baby. He was so proud of her. We had some things that we did on a regular basis as a family. We spent hours driving back country roads looking for deer. Sometimes we saw many deer. Sometimes we would drive forever without seeing any at all. We would go for long hikes in the woods. We made a family tradition of going to Rhythm and Booms each year. Jerry would stake our claim at the park and drown worms all day so that we could enjoy the best seats possible for the big show. There were countless wrestling matches on our living room floor. (I would be the referee.) We loved to play Rook & Wheel of Fortune as a family. We always watched the Packers when they played. We enjoyed watching Alias together. We had several movie nightssome good…some, really bad. He loved to surprise his family by taking us somewhere special that we couldn’t afford to go. Whether it was to the Fireside Dinner Theater or to a fancy restaurant, it was always memorable, exciting & expensive. Jerry had a big heart. Even after we separated, if my car broke down, Jerry would come to my rescue. He paid for several costly car repairs for me, even though I knew he couldn’t afford to. He helped many others too. I remember passing a man who was holding a sign that read, “Will work for food.” Jerry immediately drove to a nearby restaurant and bought a hot meal for the man and we took it back to him. I was so proud of him. Jerry was a very picky eater with a sensitive stomach. He was a meat & potatoes kind of guy. He had some favorites that he just couldn’t resist. He was addicted to Mountain Dew. He just couldn’t live without it. Heaven knows he tried. He also loved his Oreos. He had a special way of dunking them into his milk. Another favorite was Nacho Cheese Doritos. I enjoyed buying Sour Gummy Worms for him. He couldn’t eat them very often, but he loved them. He was a huge fan of my fruit salad. I used to put in his lunch every day. Jerry enjoyed cooking. In fact, he claimed to be the best cook in the family. I only wish he had tried to prove it more often. I will admit that he was the best, hands down, when it came to grilling. He could grill a steak like nobody’s business. Jerry had several passions, other than the obvious. After all, he was a man. He loved hunting, fishing, hiking in the woods. He liked cars, the faster the better. However, he drove junkers all of his life. He loved to make something out of nothing. He could look at a pile of what I would call junk and see the makings of something “wonderful”. If he couldn’t afford to buy something, he would find a way to make it. If he didn’t have a
tool that he needed, he would find a way to modify a tool that he already had to make it do what he needed it to. Jerry had a song for any phrase you could throw at him. He loved music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. It always amazed me how he could come up with these lyrics at the drop of a hat. Since I wasn’t familiar with most of those songs, I just didn’t get it most of the time, but it still made me laugh. He loved to dance. He was a very good dancer, but he loved to embarrass me when we danced. He enjoyed dancing with our girls. When they were small, they used to stand on his feet and dance all over the living room. Our granddaughter, Nadia Rae, was born to Diana on August 31, 2005. Jerry was crazy about her. He loved to watch her learn and grow and change. She loved her Pops very much too. To sum it all up, I have a lot of very positive memories of my life with Jerry Karow. I also want my children to cherish the precious times that they had with him. They lost him too soon. Jerry died on December 10, 2007 at the age of 43. He will always have a place in my heart and I will cherish the precious memories that I have of our life together.