February 11, 2012
Jean Schumacher: Small gifts created special memories

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Now that Christmas is behind us, I have had more time to think about my late husband, Bob. He was a very kind, caring and thoughtful person. A wonderful role model for his six sons and a dear husband to me. I actually did not think about how handsome he was until several close friends and relatives spoke about it to me.

All the kids remember with me, how willing he was to help with baths when they were very young and he never shrank from changing a diaper. Of course, you would think with a family our size that he should have been willing and wanting to help a stressed-out wife. Only occasionally did he shirk getting up with a wide-awake infant.

He would always keep the children well-behaved at Mass on Sunday when we took up two pews when we all attended together! I remember the one collector at church who always smiled and winked at me as he came by our pews. One of the boys said, "He wants to be your boyfriend!" I would explain that he was married to a good friend of mine. All the while I was thinking that his smile was one of encouragement, telling me, "You've made it through another week."

Mostly, I think of the little things Bob did. Oh, he was thoughtful in big ways, too. He gave me a beautiful diamond ring for our 50th anniversary; a lovely watch for my 65th birthday and a birthstone ring for my 50th. These came when money was not much of a problem as it had been in our earlier years, and it is these little things I want to remember here.

First, he gave me a single red rose several times when I invited him to study at our house. I'd sit on one side of the room, reading, while he would be deep in thought on the other side. In those days, his only income was a stipend from the U.S. government to help him while finishing his schooling. A single rose was quite a sacrifice.

After we married, he would return from business trips with different things. The first time it was a huge bag of salted-in-the-shell peanuts. Another time he brought a pair of salt shakers from one of the glass factories. Still another, it was a pair of bud vases. These always made me so happy. I knew he was thinking about us and missing us while he was gone.

As we grew older, I noticed that the type of gifts changed. One time he brought some very special lotion he had found for extra-dry skin. This was great, because our skin doesn't remain as moist as it once was.

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