You Were There

Poem by Jim Ruppel

Poem © Jim Ruppel

When, in a distant place by the sea

And I was young and free and alone

I searched for a special someone

To walk beside, someone I didn’t know


Later, when we left the sea

And came to the mountains

The vastness of this new place

Filled me with fear


I roamed from job to job

From trouble to trouble

Searching for something from within and without

Yet never quite finding and feeling the doubt


And now in this time of finding

This time of happiness and joy

This time of reaching and growing

This time especially for sharing


© Jim Ruppel

The world can be unsettling, at times, especially if you listen to the news. You don’t know what’s going to happen next or how to prepare. You can take comfort, when you have a constant in your life you can always count on, whether it be a companion, friend, pet or a special place. I know this to be true in many ways. Let me tell you how it began to unfold for me.

This poem speaks volumes, when hubby wrote it at least 40 years ago in a Journalism class. Though times have changed, the message remains the same and holds true even today. We were trying to settle in and find a constant back then, in search of our new home. It was a bit scary as we had traveled west, across the country to Colorado, far from family and friends.

Though we tried to prepare, sending ahead letters and resumes to companies for employment in Denver, we didn’t know anyone, had no jobs lined up and no place to live. We were on an adventure ― you might say ― embarking on a modern day, covered-wagon excursion. We loaded up the dogs and everything we owned in an old Volvo station wagon and U-Haul trailer and headed west after making a short detour to visit family. We only had $700 and some change to our name.

It had only been a few years since we were first married and we were living off base in Virginia. We had already seen a lot of changes to our world in the short time we’d been together, with the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Martin Luther King, Jr. What could be so hard now, having also gone through trials of our own just to get married? More on that in a story called, “Young Love to Old Love.

It was 1966, when we first met and fell in love and ­the Viet Nam War was very real and alive. It was my last summer at my grandparents before officially becoming an adult and finding my niche in the world. Jim was in the Air Force stationed on a small radar site not far from town.

Then, three years later, his hitch in the Air Force had come to a close and he’d always dreamed of living in Colorado. It was a chance for us to turn the page to a new chapter and begin our lives with no commitments or attachments. The farthest west I had ever been was Washington, D.C. on a senior class trip. I didn’t know what lay ahead or what to expect and it didn’t matter. As long as we faced life’s challenges together, I would be alright. That was my constant.

You’re right, I was naïve but had I known all the obstacles we would face over the years I would have been too afraid to take the risk and would have missed a lot of life.

It was night and we were tired, when we landed in Colorado, having been on the road most of the day. We had driven through Denver to the foothills to a small mountain town called Loveland. We pulled up to a local motel for a room to get some rest for the night, regroup, get a newspaper and make plans for the next day.

There was an air of excitement having finally arrived in Colorado where we wanted to live. But Jim had a funny look on his face when came out of the hotel. He said they wouldn’t give us a room because of the dogs. I felt like I’d been turned away from the inn ― no room.

Sabor and Buck

Sabor and Buck © Pat Ruppel

No wonder, if you looked out and saw our dogs in the back seat. From where he sat, Buck, our white shepherd’s ears almost touched the ceiling. So, we moved on down the road to the next town and next hotel. This time parking around back and getting a room for the night.

Next day, we found some places to call to rent and headed for Denver. I was in awe of this new place, the mountains and hustle and bustle of the city.

It was a lot different from the places we were originally from ― Philly and Toledo. And, it sure wasn’t like my grandparents’ small, rural town in Virginia where Jim was stationed and we had lived for last few years.

We landed our first apartment in the heart of downtown Denver, 14th and Downing, one block from one of the busiest commercial streets, Colfax, and 6-8 blocks from the business district with offices and high-rise buildings. They were older turn-of-the century houses converted into apartments.

Ours was a garden level and there were 2 or 3 levels above us with small balconies and an alley in the back. We had no phone or shower, just another bathtub with feet, but we were happy and excited to be out on our own making our way.

The dogs adjusted well through a trial and error period, while we went out to payphones to call on job prospects. Having come from the country, where they had room to run, we found out their boredom got them into trouble when we kept them together inside. They had gotten into a bottle of lotion chewing and squirting it all over the place. So, Buck had to be chained in the back near the alley way, since we assumed he was the culprit.

He was happy making friends with neighbors, as they walked to and from their destinations. They’d stop and love up on him a bit, while passing through.  Once, we heard he had sniffed out some marijuana from a girl’s purse. I guess she got her cache back as we never heard from anyone.

By this time, his nose was getting keen on the smell with hippies around. Their music and American flag draped over the balcony one flight above gave us a clue where they lived. Everyone was friendly and did their thing and that suited us just fine.

Within a day, I landed my first interview on my first call for a job. It was a company I saw in the yellow pages. I didn’t want to start searching from ‘A’ so I started at ‘C’, instead, and called Chevron. It was for a secretarial position in a geological/geophysics department. Meanwhile, Jim was making his own calls taking turns on the payphone and sharing the car. I was lucky, as my interview was only a matter of blocks away on Broadway and I could take the bus.

Life was good and we were making progress and the dogs were settling in while living in the heart of Denver with its sirens, traffic noise and musical assortments. I got my job at Chevron and was working full-time by now while Jim was still looking.

One day, he had come home for lunch having been gone most of the morning job hunting. He went around back to get Buck but found he was gone. It looked like his chain had been unhooked. Panic set in concerned with how a dog from the country would fare in traffic of a busy city.

Jim ran up and down the alley, then out front looking up and down the busy streets ― no Buck. He went down to the nearest intersection and saw him across the way at the corner. He called out, “Buck” and whistled to get his attention. It did and Buck turned around and saw him.

Jim hollered out, “Lay down”. He did. He was across a busy intersection with traffic whizzing by in both directions. There was an elderly woman standing next to him with a bag of groceries, waiting for the light to change. She looked a little anxious, not sure of what to think with a big, white dog lying next to her. The light changed and Jim called for Buck to come and he bounded to him and was safe at last.

We all survived the daily challenges trying to figure it out as life moved on and the days and weeks soon passed. Along with working during the week, we settled into a routine taking the dogs for walks, close by at Washington Park, and making weekend calls back home to family on the payphone. We took an occasional trip out of town to the mountains, again being reminded of why we came here. The beauty took my breath away.

We were home and together ― sometimes laughing, sometimes crying and occasionally fighting. No matter, we only had each other on which to depend and go to and that was all we needed. It was our constant. “You were always there ― my love” back then and still today for each other.

Pat from the ol’ kitchen table

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Pat Ruppel

53 thoughts on “You Were There

  1. Wow, Pat. 🙂

    You know what I’m thinking and why this resonates with me. We’re going through the same adventures, 40-some years later. Thank you for reminding me how great it is to have my companion with me (as well as my daughter, my little buddy!).

    • Thank you, Bethany — I’m glad it meant something to you. That means a lot to me. It’s funny how things keep showing up many ways in different lives years later. Time travel of sorts. LOL 🙂

  2. Beautiful and heart warming Story Pat. Love is a constant, through thick and thin. It is not always a rose garden, but as long as both keep nurturing it, it will continue to flourish. :o)

    • I couldn’t have said it better, Patricia. Love is not always a rose garden but it does grow even in all the storms. Thank you for stopping by. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and shared a piece of life with me. 🙂

    • Thank you, Joanne. Yes, Buck, was quite a character, noble and smart. I’m happy you enjoyed the poem — you’re pretty awesome yourself. 🙂

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  4. Pat, thank you for sharing this early memoir of your life. How exciting and scary if must have been to move almost completely across the country to strike out on your own with you husband! You did so well….and the dogs in tow. You were all a family going through the daily challenges of life. I loved it!!

    • Hi Susan – thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I’m happy to share it with you. It was scary and exciting, too. You know how it is when you’re young. You’re ready to take on the world. That’s how it felt and can still feel what it was like — we and the dogs hitting the road together. There are so many other little things that happened in those times. They were good and warms my heart. 🙂

        • Thank you, Susan, we do hold those memories, don’t we? Funny how you manage your life every day, making decisions and taking care of business, and you don’t realize until many years later how much of an adventure it was. I’m glad I had the chance to take you on one of my journeys way back when. 🙂

  5. I love this. I feel like I’ve read that poem before. Is it possible? Was it ever published? It just resonates so deeply for me and I think of my dearly departed friend, Roxanne when I read it. So poignant. Thank you for sharing, Pat!

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Dale. It’s interesting that the poem resonates with you so deeply and for your friend, Roxanne. That means a lot to me.

      No, it wasn’t published except in hubby’s college syllabus catalogue (correction) magazine called “Chrysalis”. That’s where the picture came from and a friend of mine cut it out and made a plaque of it for me for keepsake. I’ve had it hanging on my wall for years and often wondered if it could be put to music. Wouldn’t that be something?

        • Ahh, yes, those déja vu moments are sweet, Dale. I’m happy I was able to help you remember. A song would be nice, though I can’t imagine the tune, not being a strong point of mine. I’m glad it made a connection with you, my friend. Happy Monday! 🙂

    • Thank you, Susan. I think so, too, that hubby wrote a lovely poem. I’m glad you enjoyed it and agree. I feel truly blessed to have him in my life through it all (believe me it’s been a journey). I’ve been passing along these kind comments to him on his poem and he likes that it has meant something to the readers. 🙂

  6. What a beautiful, heartfelt poem written by your husband Pat, and still resonates today, so many years later! What an adventure you have both been on, thank you so much for sharing this memoir of your earlier life, this drew me in to another era, another time in life. As I write my memoir about my early life with my America G I (he was an airman in the USAF stationed in the UK) our story took place from the late 70’s and when I go back ‘there’ I become immersed in that time. So very different to the world we live in now. You lived through an extremely turbulent time what with the awful assassinations and the Vietnam war. You were both very brave starting over the way you did, but then, that’s the beauty of youth!!!
    Loved this post from start to finish Pat, thanks so much for sharing it with us my dear friend and my your week be truly blessed 🙂

    • Ahh, thank you, Sherri. I thought of you and your memoirs when I was writing it. I guess, when it comes down to it, maybe I would have enough material to write a book of memoirs, too. Though, it may be a definite challenge in the writing.

      It certainly was a different era as you can attest being married to a USAF airman in the ’70’s. I can only hope those turbulent times served their purpose in making changes for the better in how we live today. I can see that they did, though wars are still raging and there’s still racism. Things are better in many ways. We baby boomers are preparing to pass the baton. I’m glad you can relate. Your warm thoughts mean a lot. I’m happy you enjoyed it, my friend. 🙂

      • Writing a memoir (any book) is a challenge. For me it is the time. I just have to keep typing each day but I want to keep going and if I did that I would never get anything else done!! I don’t want to stop blogging although sometimes I think I will have to just to get my book written. But I’m determined to find the balance!!
        I hope you do too if you decide to pursue your memoir writing. You know I’ll be right by your side along the way as you are with me my dear friend…and yes, a very different world indeed… 🙂

        • I admire your persistence in the writing, Sherri. You’ll find the balance, no doubt. Just keep picking at it and it will smooth out and fall into place how it all should work out.

          The writing doesn’t come as easy for me. So, I’m not sure if I could get one written. The short e-book I self-published was a definite challenge for me and that’s only 15 pages. The stories are in me and I imagine the words will have to come out sometime.

          Think I have to work through some more things first, like you did. I’m happy to say the working out process is going on as we speak so who knows. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to see what unfolds. 🙂

          • You just never know…that’s the beauty of writing. All in God’s timing…that’s what I keep telling myself too. Let’s see what unfolds indeed! Have a great rest of the week my friend 🙂

          • Thank you, Sherri. You’re right — you never know. It’s all perfect. Happy Wednesday! 🙂

  7. Pat, I so enjoyed reading this memoir – you were so brave to make the move, but it must have given you so many adventures you otherwise wouldn’t have had. And that constant of love to get you through all the ups and downs – beautiful poem.

    • I’m so glad you liked it, Andrea. I guess the move was brave, though we didn’t think of it like that at the time. Isn’t that the way it is? You make decisions as they present themselves and you never know where it will lead. That constant of having each other and love kept us strong in whatever came our way, for sure. What can I say? It was the ’60’s — we were born to be wild. LOL 🙂

  8. What a romantic you married. 😉 I did a similar thiing moving to LA right out of high school with my sweetheart. Our relationship didn’t stand the test of time but LA was such a scary place to me coming from a small town.

    How long did you stay in Denver?

    • Yes he is, Lois, romantic in many ways — mostly caring and assertive. We can push each other’s buttons sometimes. 🙂

      I can relate to your experience right out of HS. It does seem similar in many ways only don’t think Denver is as intimidating, though still scary when you’re far from everything you’ve ever known. I am glad you found your way home and back on your path.

      Can’t say why our relationship has stood the test of time — guess it’s just meant to be. There are many reasons I could write stories about. I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself and matured in the process.

      Similar to you, I had only been out of HS a short time and met hubby my last summer before going back up home to start X-Ray school. Things changed on that and we ended getting marred end of year. So, it was barely 6 months from when we first met to when we were married.

      Funny how things work out. We were in that apartment in Denver for 6 months to a year before we were able to get our first house out of the city. We lived there for 13 years before we moved to the mountains and have been here since. All total, we’ve been in Colorado since 1969.

      • Pat, I can see why you love the mountains in Colorado, every time I arrive in New Mexico or Colorado and see those mountains I feel at home.

        L.A. in 1981 was a truly scary place to be. That was when the first freeway shootings of police officers started so we were careful to never be near a cop car on them. 😉

        I can’t imagine marrying someone I only knew for six months but obviously it’s worked for you well. Congrats.

        • Lois – I came from the ocean and replaced it with the mountains and couldn’t have had a better replacement. I love it here. I can see why you were scared in LA — I would be, too. That would be terrifying coming from a small town. Fortunate for us, it wasn’t like that here in the ’60’s. Because we had to rely on each other with no family or friends close by, it tends to make you want to resolve things faster, at least it did for us. I know — taking such a huge leap and marrying at 6 months sounds crazy. When my oldest daughter was 20 and wanted to marry, I had no recourse for I had taken chances myself. Thank you — it’s worked out for her and I’m happy it has worked for us over all these years. 🙂

          • Pat, I have often told my children that I can’t tell them not to do something I have done. It looks like you found the same. I’m glad it worked out for your daughter too.

          • So true, Lois, in telling our children what to do. We can only be there for them and help when asked. Me too, I’m glad it’s worked out for her. Thank you for your insights and for sharing. Though a part of me wants to protect, I never wanted to prevent them from having their own adventures and taking risks. It’s nice to know that you understand. 🙂

          • I definitely understand. The hardest moment for me was when my son informed me he had decided to join the military. I was so scared but we talked and he knew what he was doing so there was nothing I could do but support him.

          • I know, Lois, it can be hard in the decisions they choose. I think that part of letting go is some of the toughest in being a parent because we remember the challenges we had. You’re right in that the best thing we can do is love and support them by being there for them. 🙂

  9. What a heartwarming life story Pat. It almost reads like a movie. Life is an adventure with ups and downs and in the end it’s love that holds it together. Beautiful poem. Your husband’s talented.

    • Thank you, Karin. I’m glad you enjoyed it and hubby’s poem. It does sort of read like a movie, doesn’t it? It felt like it in playing it back when writing. It means a lot that it touched your heart. I’ll pass along what you said about hubby’s talent, too. He’ll like it.

      I totally agree that life is an adventure, to be sure, with its ups and downs. It’s been said that life is like a play on stage and we all have parts we’re acting out. I’d prefer to play more in comedy than drama but don’t think we get to choose. Happy to see you again — hope you have a great day! 🙂

    • Ahh, thank you, Bev. I’m glad you enjoyed it — your warm wishes mean a lot. We’re working on many more years of love, laughter and tears, God willing. In December, it will be 48 years. We’re pushing the golden one, my friend. 🙂

    • Thank you, Mavadelo, for reblogging my post and for the invite. It means a lot. You’re the best — I’m happy to join. 🙂

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        • Oh, so happy to see over here, Mary, and even happier you’re enjoying the reads. I’m working on a new post that has taken me some time with photo and video editing. I’m hoping to get it out soon — hope you’ll stay tuned. Thank you for stopping by — it means the world to me. 🙂

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    • Thank you for the reblog, Martin. I hope your readers enjoy it and come on over and sit at my kitchen table and share a tale or two. 🙂

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