9/7/05 The Reluctant Mr. Mom
His heart ached for her. It had been such a long time, in fact, 4 ½ years had passed since he last saw her face, the love of his life, his wife. As each new day without her dawned, he wasn’t sure how he could go on, but somehow he did.
He took her favorite perfume, Giorgio, and inhaled deeply, breathing in what he desired to be her spirit, her essence.
They used to go dancing. In his mind's eye, he could see her bright smile and feel her warm body next to his as they moved to the music, together. He moved his face closer to hers, closed his eyes and then, as he went to kiss her, she was gone.
He found himself sitting in the chair in a darkened room, her scent still fresh in his mind. Hot tears ran down his cheek, but there was no one to wipe them away. There was only silence.
He had his memories. Time had not, nor would erase them. These visions of the past were like gold to him now, as time continued its determined march whether or not she was there with him.
She was the perfect mother, taking on the roles that fit her like a custom-made glove. She was active in the children’s school activities and sporting events, volunteering in the school library and on various committees and projects. Her children were her life, and her husband the light of that life. As they grew older, she said that she looked forward to becoming a grandmother, and sharing her love with their children.
She had retained the child within, too. She loved roller coasters and together, the family traveled far and wide just to ride the biggest and the fastest. The man could hear her scream as the car plunged down the track and then her youthful laughter as they whipped around a curve and came to a stop. He couldn’t forget the twinkle in her eye that signified her approval of the ride and the coaster’s ability to thrill.
At home, she loved to entertain, having family and friends over to share coffee and sing Karaoke, especially the Oldies. She usually hosted Thanksgiving, filling their home with the smells of the holiday, love, and laughter.
She loves the Christmas season. The family has a huge Christmas tree with over 1,300 lights. She draped extra strings of lights in every window and filled the dining room with her Santas of the World figurines. In the fall of 2000 she wanted some Christmas stuffed animals to decorate the house. To surprise her, he purchased one of each type that they had available at a local store. These were the characters from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, from Santa to Rudolph to the Abominable Snow Man. They came in three sizes. He purchased all the sizes for her and packed them all in a big box and wrapped them up. She loved them and set the up all over the house.
It all came to and end on February 13, 2001, the day she disappeared.
There was now emptiness in the house and in their hearts. The family is not whole without her. There is an empty chair, her chair, at the dinner table. Those perfume bottles of Giorgio stand on her dresser, still filled to the brim, and her clothes line the closet. The family goes about their lives, going to work, going to school, cooking dinner and doing the chores, but never a moment goes by without having loving thoughts of his wife, and of the children’s mother.
The man is heart broken and teary eyed most days. He tells us what his new life is like as the “Reluctant Mr. Mom”: “Some days are impossible to function but I know the bills still have to be paid. Being a mom and dad to two teenage children, especially my daughter, now 17, who would rather not discuss certain things to her father, has been very difficult. Having to work full time, come home, cook, clean, take care and keep track of the children is a 24/7 job.
Sleeping in on weekends is no longer an option. Time is of the essence, so I am usually up early to work on her website, new projects and ideas to find her while the wash is going in the background. Time management is key. My life, if that is what you call it, is focused on two things; finding my wife and caring for my children.
My greatest fear is that I may never see her again. This is tough enough to express in words much less face it as a real possibility. She is the love of my life, my only true love and I miss her so much. She is the mother of our two wonderful children who deserve to be with their mom to celebrate their birthdays, etc. This does not seem real at times but I know it is.
I deal with these grim possibilities by having faith in God that she is OK and thus keeping our hope alive. I try not to think about the worst even though these thoughts creep in from time to time. I know and our children know that I am doing my best to find her and we will never give up hope of bringing her home alive.”
Due to her medical condition, he believes she may have had a seizure and then hospitalized somewhere. What frustrates him is the HIPPA Laws which mandate the strict privacy of adults receiving medical care. “We could be calling a hospital where she is, and they do not have to tell us she is there. Finally, it is frustrating that she seemingly vanished in the middle of the day and was on foot and no one came forward to say they even saw her that day. The HIPPA law will probably never be changed, but you never know. Lastly, we need some of our fellow neighbors to come forward and tell us what they know.”
He would not and could not remain idle regardless of the roadblocks placed before him. He kept very active in keeping her image in the public eye. She has been on TV news shows almost 20 times, and each time he would capture the video clip and add them to her website. He would also save the newspaper articles written about her, which can be read on her website. He appeared on the Montel Williams Show, and attends missing person conferences and meetings.
He created a DVD of his love, containing videos, photos of her, her coat, her jewelry and various new stories. He has sent out over 2000 videos and more than 5000 flyers. He has three Private Investigators working the case.The website he created with love for her has had over 35,000 hits since its inception. It contains numerous short family videos of his wife.
He has her listed on close to 100 independent websites and designed photo buttons, distributing well over 5000 of these, including some on our Adopt a Missing Person program. He had six billboards up the first few months of hers disappearance and held a successful press conference on our front lawn to provide information about her.
He also uses his talents to give to other families, creating DVD’s, videos, and audio recordings to preserve the memories of their missing loved ones. He does it without asking for anything in return. “Helping other families by creating videos of their missing loved ones has also helped me feel better about myself. I feel the joys of other families when they are given some hope and the belief that there are people out there who really care.”
Only two things have eluded him: national media attention and her return into his weary arms. Oh, what he would give to have her back again. He doesn’t want to play Mr. Mom anymore. He wants her back in her rightful role as do the children. It’s been far too long.
And, when Christmas time comes around again, he and the children will set up her stuffed Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer characters all over the house, just as she did. The Valentine gifts he bought for her on that fateful day are there for her to claim. The family waits and hopes, always.
Yes, these people do have names, and they are very real, as is their story. They are just one among thousands. Will you remember their story?
He wants you to remember not just the story, but much more importantly, the face of the woman he loves. He invites us deeper into the tale with a visit to the website, which tells you and shows you the complete story of the woman of his dreams. While you may not be able to wipe away his tears, you can give him hope in knowing that just even one more person knows about his wife, his life.
Please come and meet Jim and Patricia Viola: http://patriciaviolamissing.homestead.com