Special Category Winner: Sweetest Story

His Love For Her Lives On

Submitted By: Bill Faust
In Memory of Pat Thomas Faust '61 (3/7/37 - 2/11/01)

“Love, love changes everything: Now I tremble at your name, Nothing in the world will ever be the same.” Love Changes Everything: From The Aspects of Love, words and music by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

“From over here I still see you, when my eyes have left your face. And cant you feel me still hold you, though my hands have left your waist? Oh I wonder, wonder, Oh the wonder of you.” The Wonder of You: Words and music by Chip Taylor

I discovered these songs long after my wife of forty-three years had died; and they, as all love songs do, make me think of her.

The girl in the red coat walked into my World Lit class at Phoenix College on February 6th, 1956 and I thought: Wow!  By the next day I had learned her name, Pat Thomas, and had gotten her phone number (Amherst 6-9953) from the book.  I called and frantically talked her into a blind date.  It was the double date that saved me. She happened to be a friend of the other girl who was going. I offered to pick her up and take her to school.  In a note to her, written shortly before the birth of our third child, I reminisced about that meeting as follows:

"I remember you, the girl in the red coat- World Lit 201. A pretty girl, one I’d like to take out.  I remember you on our first meeting, you wore a blue skirt, white blouse, red belt shoes and bag.  You wore Tabu.  You spoke well and we talked through two classes or was it only one?  Good-looking girl I thought, also smart and also fun... and soon I will remember the birth of our third child.  I look forward to it and all the memories we will give and have given each other."

On February 8th 2006, the fiftieth anniversary of that day, I went to Walgreen’s and bought a bottle of Tabu and the memory was complete.

That first date went well and we dated constantly until June, when I left to take a summer job in Oakland, California.  The job had been arranged before I met Pat and what I had looked forward to as both an adventure and a learning experience became one long, miserable, lonesome summer.  I wrote to Pat constantly.  I was gone three months and returned on September 1, 1956.  Late that afternoon I rang the doorbell of her parent’s home.  Pat, looking beautiful in a yellow linen dress, answered the door; and just inside the door, in front of God and her parents, we had a kiss that I will never forget.

We transferred to ASU later that month. Pat lived on campus in North Hall, which, sadly for me, no longer exists.  I commuted daily from Phoenix.  In those days College Avenue went from 5th Street all the way through the campus to Apache Boulevard.  On the afternoon of October 15th in my car parked in front of North Hall we said to each other, for the first time, “I love you.”  I wrote the following letter to her that night,

Dearest Pat,
It has been such a long time since I have written to you, well, since today was such an especially wonderful day and because I miss being away from you, it is ten after eight, I thought I had better write down a few of my thoughts.  This is really the nicest letter I have ever written to you for I know that I will be able to deliver it in person; therefore it is not only nice but also a pleasure to write.

As I have said this has been a very wonderful day, so wonderful that I cannot find the words to describe what I feel.  I have read about days like this but only in fairy tales.  To find myself so wonderfully happy is something I had never expected, least of all at this particular time.  I am really not quite sure what to do with myself for I feel as though I will explode any minute.  It is so completely wonderful, so beautifully unbelievable to hear you say “I love you”.  May I thank you for this feeling you have given me and also hope that I may possibly let you know what I have felt today.  What you have let me feel was beyond my fondest dreams.  There are no words to say or explain the way I feel.  I can only say with all my heart that I love you.
Bill

As I’ve said, I commuted to the campus.  I would get there early every morning and Pat would come out before classes and sit in the car and talk to me.  Here are a couple of notes we left to each other in the car:

Hi Honey:
I put the car keys in the glove compartment so you can turn on the heater in case it’s cold outside and you are cold inside
Love you,
Bill
P.S. Haven’t seen you for nine minutes and I miss you so much!

Pat, who could write and punctuate so much better than I could, was late one morning and missed seeing me.  She left the following note:

Dearest Bill.
Oh honey, I am so sorry I didn’t meet you this morning!  I didn’t even open my eyelids till 8:30, and the first thing I thought of was you. I just felt sick that I missed you this morning, honey: I was looking forward to seeing you all night long.  It really feels strange when I don’t see you in the morning- everything empty as if the sun didn’t come up.  I miss you so much!
Love you more than anything else,
Your Pat

We must have been well behaved, both in and out of the car, because Pat told me that her dorm “Mother” believed for the longest time that we were brother and sister.  I questioned her eyesight!

In the spring of 1957, same car, same spot in front of North Hall, I asked Pat to marry me.  She told me much later that she manipulated me into making the proposal without thinking that she would need to give me an answer.  Fortunately it was yes, and we were married that summer.  We completed our degree requirements by going to night school on a part time basis.  No love letter to Pat has ever fully expressed how I felt about her but I do like to think that as the years went by and our love grew to ever more inexpressible depths my efforts to do so also improved.  Looking back on the October 15th letter I can only say I had no clue how deep love between two people could become.  In May of 1961, after two children and four years of marriage I think I did a little better. We were living in Yuma and Pat had gone to Phoenix with the kids to visit her parents.  I wrote her the following letter:

May 28, 1961
My Dearest Pat,
The front window is open and the door ajar.  I’m sitting here enjoying the start of a new day.

The sky is grey-blue dotted with lilac colored clouds.  The air is fresh and sweet with a new-day smell that enlivens all your senses. With orange-red streaks that creep above the trees the sun gives fair warning that soon it will be up.

Birds anxiously shout, heralding the day with undirected melody.  Hundreds of different notes that all cry out, “It’s good to be alive!”  No fears of yesterday in these voices, only good thoughts for today.

I miss you now.  The beauty of the moment brings nearer the thought of your own warm loveliness.  What I would give to have you here; to hold you close, to kiss you, to say to you, as if for the first time, “I love you Pat.”

The weekend has gone by slowly.  I have missed you more than you can ever know.  I try to share my thoughts and actions with you through my letters.  They can never take the place of having you with me.

When I closed my “book” of yesterday it seemed then I wouldn’t write again.  But writing to you is always easy for you are my main thought and concern .The sun is up now.  The birds are settling down to living their lives.  I shall close for now.  I love you very much.
Bill.

Many years later I was in Phoenix on a business trip and went to Tempe to re-visit the ASU campus.  Sitting in the Student Union, drinking a cup of coffee, I reminisced again and wrote to Pat, on a paper napkin, the following words:

“I remember so long ago, but clear as yesterday, going to school with you.  So much here has changed, new buildings grow daily and the old buildings look older.  The places we met and went to still are here, but without you they seem strange and empty; like a day with no hope of something good to come.  North Hall is still here, but knowing you won’t walk through the door, I pass it by, stirred only by the memory of you within its’ walls and the excitement I felt waiting to see you walk through that door.  Time has changed us and yet, not at all.  You are everything now that you were then-but even more.  And even then I couldn’t tell you how much I love you.”

When I heard the Chip Taylor song I immediately remembered a hand written birthday note that I wrote for her forty-second birthday.  It went partially like this: "... I looked at you in wonder, awestruck, that anyone could be as fortunate as I.  I take pleasure in the memory and do not cry that innocence is lost, but treasure all the more the wonder still remains.”

Pat died on February 11, 2001, exactly 45 years after our first date.  Not a day goes by that I do not think of her and miss her.  Four years after we were married I wrote these words to her:  “Though love is universal ours is singular and individual, unique between ourselves and beautiful to be a part of.  For it and you I thank our creator.”  What I have related is only a miniscule part of the longer singular story.  I only hope it illustrates, in some small way, what love between two people can be.  Love, does change everything, the wonder still remains, and I still thank our creator.