6 July 1991

On our wedding day, these were my vows to Richard:

Dearest Richard.  I often wondered if it was true what they said. That my expectations were unrealistic and bold. But I knew it was better to live life alone than to compromise a dream. And when I met you, I knew why I had waited.  I love who you are and what we’ve already become. And know our bond will only grow stronger.  I’m graced by your love and will cherish you always. Grow old with me, Richard. The best is yet to come. Forever, Ava Sue

Our love did grow stronger. But we didn’t really get a chance to grow old together.

Richard died when he was sixty-five. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on May 26,2010, and he left the earth on March 26, 2017. Seven short and very long years.

We met in a bar through mutual friends on February 8, 1991. We spent that Friday night and the weekend together, and he moved in on Monday. We were married five months later. I was thirty-three, and Richard was thirty-nine. We met in Seattle and then moved to northern Italy, then London, San Diego, Tucson, Vancouver, and then back to Tucson.

I always thought we’d be the cute old couple walking hand in hand, still in love after all those years. Just like we were in this photograph, taken of us on Halloween 1992. Dying in our sleep at the exact same moment, our bodies entwined in a final embrace. But that’s not the way it turned out. 

I’m grateful for the travels we had when we were young. “Travel when your legs work,” we used to say. Now I say, “Travel when your legs and brain work.”

Richard charmed people wherever we went with his handsome looks, easygoing attitude, and interest in other people and their lives. I called him the king of open-ended questions. He would find out things about people that others who had known them for years didn’t know. When asked about his uncanny ability, he would simply say, “I asked questions and listened to the answers.”

But we didn’t expect the same openness from him. He was not one to share his feelings, hopes, fears, or disappointments. “He was not an open book, always unconventional, and a bit of a mystery. He was a kind person, gentle even, considerate and respectful.” Those are his friend Steve’s words. Richard had a fabulous sense of humor and drew people to him like a magnet.

Richard had been a star since the day he was born, a gifted athlete with a sharp mind. He was born to Marilyn and Vernon Ping on July 23, 1951, with one older brother, Jim. He was Dickie as a child, Dick when I met him, Riccardo when we lived in Italy, and Richard when we moved to London.

Meet nine-year-old Dickie, with his cousin Kathy and brother Jimmie. “Hey, Dickie, I like your bat.” That would have been a good pickup line.

He was a gifted poet and writer. His first childhood poem was about farts. He recited it often. It was clever and pretty amusing. I wish I’d had the sense to write it down.

Here’s the poem he wrote for our wedding.

Wedding Dance  A whispered promise slows our step near motionless. And knowing silence bends into our spin. Revolving web and loving focus to this wedding dance we share. RVP 7-6-91

We were soulmates. And still are, of course. But I won’t get into that yet.


You will find my book Parkinson’s: A Love Story with Dementia for Dessert on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/Parkinsons-Love-Story-Dementia-Dessert-ebook/dp/B07K4RLC2D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542135434&sr=8-1&keywords=Parkinson%27s+A+Love+Story+with+Dementia+for+Dessert&dpID=41xS3edPH0L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch  Your feedback and reviews are most welcome.

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