…Cary was a very bright, intelligent, creative, and warm person. His genuine charm and enthusiasm caught my attention in a non-romantic way as we began working together, he as the architectural draftsman and I as the interior designer on hotel and restaurant projects. We put in long hours, met our deadlines, and enjoyed the work we were doing.
Cary’s job was to hand-draft onto large sheets of mylar paper (from which blueprints could be reproduced) the details and elevations of the designs initiated by the firm’s principals. My job was to finalize the furnishings package, including the room finishes and furniture layouts, convey that information to Cary for him to draft, concluding with my writing the specifications for those items for purchase and installation in a lobby, restaurant, or guest room. We had to coordinate information, cross check our work, attend meetings with the other team members and firm principals, and copy multiple sets of documents in the “print” room. I think that room is the spot our relationship really grew! We had to stand around waiting on the photocopier or blueprint machine, so we did a lot of talking.
Unlike most men in my life at that time, and even in this time, Cary could talk intelligently and comfortably on every single subject known to man, and then some! He could discuss religion, politics, fashion, culture, education, music, art, history, science, and even interpersonal relationship issues. I was enamored with how easily he could leap from one subject to another, without boring the listener to death (well, this listener had to chime in occasionally!) To this day, only my dad and I can talk with that depth and interest. Oh, how I miss my friend and confidante! I even miss him talking about cars… though I never thought that would happen!
Sometimes we had to work Saturdays, and Cary would bring his young firstborn son with him for the day. I was impressed with the kind way he supervised and guided his five year old, all while he was drafting away. His son would bring Legos or Transformer characters with him. Star Wars had just come out as a hit movie, and he became enthralled with those toy characters and flying machines.
Our working relationship remained platonic through the spring and summer. But our respect for each other grew, and we enjoyed eating our sack lunch together, or hitting a local restaurant for a quick break from the office. Weekly a group of us would enjoy happy hour at a local spot, and our friendship with each other deepened, as did our friendship with others in the office, many with whom I remain friends to this day.
Another female member of our design team began to encourage Cary and I to spend more time together. “I think Cary is lonely; you should have him over for dinner.” “I think Shari is lonely; you should take her to a movie.” That matchmaker is still my good friend! We did take her up on her good advice, and began to see each other outside of work. If Cary had the weekend with his son, the two of them would join me for an outing. At that time, Cary was separated from his first wife. They had been married nearly 15 years, were unequally yoked, and there were a variety of issues. Eventually they would divorce shortly before we were married, with Cary designated by the judge as custodial parent of his son. Enough said.
One day, Cary’s prized 1960’s Volvo P1800 broke down not far from our work. He walked back to the office, and asked me for a ride to help get a part, install it, and get the car going again. Not long after that, I replaced the stove in my house, and couldn’t figure out how to get the oven on. I asked Cary to come over to help me figure it out. Of course, he immediately solved the problem, and I appeared to be a helpless female. There was a 45-second delay on the pilot light, and I was just being impatient. For more than 25 years he kidded me that it was a ruse to get him over – seriously, it was not! I could not figure it out; though I’m sure if I had read the instruction manual it would have helped.
During the early fall of that year, Cary asked me for a ride to the downtown Denver bus station. He and his son were headed to Montana. They were to then fly down to Roswell, New Mexico with his grandma, Mertie McMinn, on a small plane. She was 100 years old and was moving from her home in Red Lodge to reside in assisted living complex near his parents’ farm. I agreed to take them. When I dropped him off at the station, he gave me a goodbye kiss, and our friendship became a relationship. I had not expected it, but I was thrilled with this change in our lives….