Twenty-four years is a long time. And through that time I have given my Petie Pete my love. And he has earned my respect. Sometimes I don't even realize just how much so, until I get out in the world and see other men in situations.
As a child growing up Pete had to take spare parts and assemble his own bicycles if he wanted one. Took many a bath under the water hose outside. And was often chauffeur for his dad when he wanted to ride through the woods and drink.
When he was a teenager, he started working when and where he could. At one time he had a Monte Carlo and an old Chevy Truck. One good motor between them. He'd pull that motor and swap the vehicle it was in when he got bored with one ride or the other.
One of his first really steady jobs was as a helper/apprentice with a local mechanic. A really good mechanic. Taught him well. Money and perhaps a little too little parental supervision had him in pool halls and beer joints at an early age. Of course the legal drinking age in Texas was only 18 back then, too. He got very good at pool. Could really run a table!
By the time I met him on a New Year's Eve, he was working as a pumper in the oilfield. He was just 21 years old. He fixed most anything his employer had with a motor on it. And had to run by assorted wells each and every day and make sure they were producing, motors running. Those old "putt-putt" motors would run on any type of fuel. And Pete could usually coax them into running with a bare minimum of tools.
March 12th we wed at the J.P.'s office. Only two and a half months of dating. We were so young and so thought it would all be so easy. I remember the Pete's first payday after we wed, he made a line of bills from the front door to the ice box in the kitchen, and arrow of bills held with magnets up the front of the box and then the rest of his pay in a basket on top. I was working, but he was so proud to be Provider.
When we wed, he said "Well, I always said no wife of mine was gonna work, or gonna have to work. But since you already have a job, a nice office job I'll leave it up to you." And true to his word, he did.
While we were yet still Newly Weds, one evening he went out to shoot some pool at a local club. One of his brothers was out there. I wasn't very happy about this turn of events. But before too long he was home. And he said, "It occurred to me that I'm married now. And married men have no place in pool halls and they are no place to take your wife." In all these years he has only gone a handful of times, and each time with my blessing as it was a big boys night with old friends and family.
My Petie Pete doesn't talk much about his feelings. I could probably count on my fingers the times he has said "I love you." He learned early on that folks don't always say what they mean. That people lie and deceive and use words to gloss over a multitude of sins. I have come to find, to see with God's help, that every time Pete comes through our door at the end of a day, he is saying "I love you. I choose you. This is where I want to be."
That's not to say my Pete isn't romantic. He is. Flowers and balloons. Candles and incense. Little unexpected treats, like teddy bear shaped lollipops. He has woke me from a dead sleep to come outside to a blanket on the ground by a crackling fire, with fruit and cheese and wine coolers.
In all these years, I can't say that Pete has ever spoken a lie to me. Skirted the truth when he thought it would hurt me or make me blow up, yes. Refused to answer a question on a few occasions. But uttered lying words....never. He still believes one's word means something. And I've seen him stick by oral deals that he deeply regretted because, well, he said he would.
He's held various jobs. Installed carpet for awhile. Worked for a high line repair company. But most of his years were spent in the oilfield. Pumper, pusher. A pusher is a crew boss. He has an uncanny knack for looking over a situation, deciding on what needs to be done and how to do it and then proceeding or bust. Either shut up and help him or get out of his way. He once walked off his job because he was about to get a raise, but his crew was not. It wasn't right and he knew it. Never mind he had me and Bubba at home and I wasn't working at the time. He worked on lawnmowers and such for folks and we hung in there for a month. Then he went back to work, with a raise for him and for his crew!
Oilfield work is incredibly hard if you take it seriously. Lifting things by yourself out in the field with no mechanical help. Pete's a slight of build guy, but he's always been solid muscle. There's no rain outs in the oilfield. You do what needs to been done come hell or high water. It's you, your crew if you have one and what's on your truck. He's mopped up oil spills with hay. Can you imagine how hard to handle hay wet with oil?
He's worked as a pipefitter and welder's helper. That has meant being out on site for days at a time. He designed a network of pipe in a local lumber mill once that so impressed the folks that they flew people in from other locations to look it over.
I remember when Bubba was a baby Pete's boss wanted him to learn how to operate his old backhoe. So Pete brought it home and dug a sewer line with it to practice. So clumsy. Over the years he got so good that he could knock over a tree with a couple of swings or reach up with the bucket and pick you a single leaf off a tree.
He's been good enough at the things he does, mechanicing and oilfield that people have called him offering him jobs in both fields. But I think he has taken the most pride in the custom oak cabinetry he built with his brother for 6 or 7 years. Tommy figured and bid the jobs. Lay it out and cut it. Pete assembled them, sanded them. Beautiful work!!! Unbelievable detail and functionality. Long hours on a concrete floor are hard on a body that has been jarred and battered for years.
Bottom line, whatever he has done he has taken pride in. Put his best into it, even if it was hard, or hurt, or took a long time or he didn't really have all he needed to do it. Over the years his body has been betraying him. And especially this past year, his back. He can no longer commit to a job. Not at anything he has ever done. Never knows from one day to the next if he has two good hours in him, none or on rare occasions 5 or more. For a man who never had benefits and has no insurance it has been a very slow and painful process trying to get any attention. Any help. Any answers. Only recently he got word that he can have a whole spine MRI at Galveston for a drastically reduced price. Now to manage to scrap up that money and go through the often long and arduous process of setting up the appointments.
This man is so miserable, never feeling good. Never feeling well. But more than anything I believe it is slowly driving him crazy not being able to do all the things he has before. And especially not being able to work and provide for his family. All he wants in this world right now is help getting help. Help getting better or well. Help getting back about the business of a man.
Pete has been a wonderful father in many respects. Not a Ward Clever type father, but his own brand. His children are the one place where he is not afraid to lavish his love. He's not big on doing kiddy activities with them, but they are welcome from toddler hood to join him in any endeavor or pastime. They know they are loved and they know they are protected.
Brave and calm in situations where I'd loose it totally. I've seen Pete lick his thumb and stick it in the spout of a jug full of fuel that was burning, so as to cut off the air and keep it from exploding. I've seen him shoot at a water moccasin and miss. The snake reared up and charged straight at him. Cool as a cucumber he waited until it was close and then stamped down one boot clad foot atop it's head. Then he lay the barrel of the .22 behind it's head and pulled the trigger.
He has never been a jealous man. He has always trusted me to handle any passes or inappropriate behavior from other men. But there has never been any doubt in my mind or theirs that if they don't pay heed to me, they'll answer to Pete.
This man has always had a deep respect for older folks. He goes out of his way to help them when he can. He tried to always honor his father and mother while they were still here. Likes to listen to their stories, to learn from them.
He can be generous to a fault, giving away over the years much more than he has ever sold be it livestock or parts for vehicles. If it's time to eat and you are here, you're invited even if he has to share half his portion with you.
Is he perfect? Absolutely not. He's as stubborn as mule, he plays as hard as he works, he drinks too much beer and can be as gripey as a crab. But he's my bear. My bear when he's a grizzly and my bear when he's a teddy. And I wouldn't trade him for anyone else.