Two brothers and the ex factor

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By Betty Slade | PREVIEW Columnist

Two brothers. Woe to anyone who comes between them. 

A phone call can change everything and brings reality into the bigger picture. We waited for the call. We were told a day or two. We had time to ponder on the life of David Warren Slade, what we knew and didn’t know.

Al’s brother’s son called and said the family planned to have a small memorial for David. They would make a toast. Prepare to say a few words.

I told my Sweet Al, “Be ready to say something about your brother. Tell me what you’ll say. I don’t want you to be caught off guard.”

“He was a wise man,” Al began.

“Are you kidding me, Al? He wasn’t wise. Smart in business, but not wise. Start over again and let’s get real.”

He thought for a few minutes. “I guess I’d say, ‘He was a good brother to me. He was very generous to everyone. He had a problem with the women. He couldn’t leave the pretty little things alone and they couldn’t leave him alone.’”

How real do we become when a family member departs? I guess it’s all about how we coped or didn’t cope with someone during their time on earth. Each one will have their story. I have mine. I used humor to cope with David.

It’s true, David was very, very generous with his brother. He loved Al, but couldn’t understand how Al could be satisfied with his life. But, they were bound to each as brothers. No one dared to come between them.

Al and David came from a broken home. What doesn’t get healed gets repeated. Al turned to God for healing. David ran from his pain.

David protected Al from a mean dad. David beat up the bullies who picked on Al. Al picked up the pieces left in the messes David made. At 87 years old, David was still Al’s hero. Al looked up to David like an 8-year-old looking up in awe at a 16-year-old brother.

David didn’t honor our marriage. I believe it was because he didn’t know what it took to work at a good marriage. Al and I were all about building a family, loving Jesus and valuing the things of God. David couldn’t honor his own family. I don’t think he had it in him. Many times, he commented to Al, “I admire you for going to church, being a good father and a good man, but I can’t live that way.”

So how did I fit in? I didn’t. I learned to stay out of David’s way. There was always a lot of drama with all of his exes, always about money, size, pretty people and pretty things. All things money could buy.

When I came into the family over 62 years ago, the first thing he tried to do was put me on a diet. I was 18, a size 12 and 120 pounds. He couldn’t forgive my size. I wasn’t a size 2. For most of our married life, he was after Al to put me on a diet.

David was very controlling. Al couldn’t say no, but I could. I made it very clear I didn’t marry his brother; I married Al. My Sweet Al was caught between two people he loved. Al loved me the way I was and I loved Al for his pure heart.

At 70, David still vowed never to date a woman over 50. I asked him once, “What do you suppose they should do with us women over 50? Like a horse with a broken leg, take them out and shoot them?”

He agreed. He never changed his thinking.

If you remember, I used to write about David in my articles. At 80, he was still going to the clubs, playing the Casanova and the girls were still ogling him. I wrote about him dating the 22-year-old with 2-year-old twins.

When her twins tore up his television schedule, he didn’t keep her around.

Other women David brought to Pagosa confessed they weren’t that kind; they weren’t gold-diggers, they really loved him. They tried to break him like a wild stallion. I’d tell them, “Good luck. I don’t think you can. This one will never be tamed.”

The last time I saw David, on his 87th birthday, he had lost all his charisma and good looks. He was a shell of a man. I looked at him and said, “Well, I can’t believe we’re alive. The two of us are still in the same family after all these years. We didn’t shoot each other. I sure wanted to at times. I’m sure you wanted to do the same. The one thing we had in common is that we both loved Al.”

He just chucked. There was nothing to say. The last days of our lives have become very real.

I received an email from one of my readers who asked, “Will David ever find love?” I told her I didn’t think he would. He was always looking for love in the wrong places. His nonsense gave me a lot of material for many more articles to write for my readers. I used his search for love for all it was worth.

He used to send me pictures of his latest conquests. I had several of my men readers say, “I’d like to be like David.” They envied his Midas touch, owning his own plane. He’d been a millionaire many times over. He was successful, with business smarts, good-looking and all the women wanted him. When he walked into a room, the world was at his feet.

I remember hearing an interview with Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman’s wife. They asked her how it was to be married to such a gorgeous man as Paul Newman? She said, “It’s hell to be married to a handsome man. All the women wanted him. And they thought they should all have him.”

Ask his four ex-wives; I bet it wasn’t easy to keep David happy and close to home. While he was clubbing, my Sweet Al sat next to me and we watched Hallmark movies together. I always knew where Al was. On his mind were sweet, beautiful thoughts about Jesus, his hunting dog, family and a bigger-than-12 me.

Final brushstroke: A few days before the call, Al made a couple of trips to Albuquerque. His brother cried and asked Al to pray for him. Our daughter said her dad’s prayer was so sweet, she cried. When she told me, I cried, too. David had been humbled before the Lord. Not by women, but by the love of God.

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