Tony’s birthday is today. He would have been 65-years-old. July 19th is our anniversary and also marks 7 years and 2 months to the day since I lost my husband.
This is the story of how we met
It was October 1989 when we first saw each other. I needed a job to support my one-year-old son and myself. I was determined to be self-sufficient and so I applied for a job at the Western Star dealership in Kamloops.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two people watching me enter the building. I’m not sure what made me look; I normally just carry on with the job at hand. I was nervous, but still something made me look.
I locked eyes with this dark haired fellow with curls that hung over his collar. He had the most contagious smile that made me stop and beam back at him… Surely not what my mother taught me!
I had a great interview and was called the next day with a start date for my new position. A way and means to support myself!
The day I started, I discovered who the two men were… The first my new boss and the second Tony Bliss, a field service representative from the Western Star factory. I remember being disappointed that I wouldn’t being seeing him daily before happily finding out that he visited every 6 weeks.
The months passed and Tony and I became friends, even went out for a few quiet dates. It was frowned upon to see coworkers, but if I had any work questions or concerns with a claim I was encouraged to call him. This is how it went on for a few years until I was headhunted by another company, so I moved on but never lost contact with Tony.
The road trip that changed everything…
The summer of 1994, Shaydon was just 6-years-old. When I wasn’t working, we did everything together; swimming, hiking, exploring, the park, anything to do with the outdoors. I was looking for something different and thought that maybe we should take a road trip like my mom used to do with us growing up. Of course, the place that came to mind was Kelowna… Wait, Flintstone Park is there… Who do I know in Kelowna?
I hadn’t talked to Tony in at least 6 months. I called, he was delighted, and a trip was planned.
We no longer worked together and neither one of us was attached, so it began.
Within a year we’d bought a house and I moved to Kelowna to start a new life with Tony, along with my son and Tony’s young teens.
It seemed everyone in town knew and loved Tony. We could be off to do a simple shop that would take the normal person an hour tops, but not with him by my side. We’d get maybe 5 feet and we’d run into someone he knew… A chat and a few laughs later we’d be on our way – until the next meeting. This was how life went and it was magical. He was the first person I knew like this, so full of humour, wit, love, honesty, integrity… Fashion sense?!? Wait, did I mention mischief? And his smile; it could light up a room.
He was the first man I had ever admired and respected. I lost my father at a very young age of maybe 3 or 4 to an accident. My mother did an amazing job but couldn’t be that male figure… I know she tried.
A new life in Ontario
It was 2000 or 2001, and we had just heard the news that Western Star had been sold to Freightliner; two very different company models. Everyone, including Tony, was concerned for their positions. Tony was offered a position with Freightliner in Ontario. Neither one of us wanted to move but there was going to be very little opportunity left in Kelowna. So off we went, Tony settled into his new position and Shaydon and I learned to navigate Ontario. Who knew that these two provinces did things so different? I even had to learn how to find things in the phone book differently!
We found a house, renovated and settled in making loads of new friends in our neighbourhood and at the paddle centre. Still, we missed Kelowna and we were thousands of miles away from home. We came home every summer to stay connected.
A man worth remembering
It was the spring of 2007 and we’d just come home from a holiday in Costa Rica. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what it might be; he thought it was the flu. Neither one of us was ready for what was to come next. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour. We fought it as best we could with the help of modern medicine, with some success. In the spring of 2009, we decided it was time to move home and make the most of our last day, months, years together.
I’ve been getting messages recently from some of his old work mates. One messaged a few days ago asking if he could share a photo in Tony’s memory for his birthday. Another has commented that “he was the best boss I ever had”.
I sometimes think that as time passes, people forget… This isn’t so.
When you’re a good person who cares for others, you’ll always be remembered.