By Theda Kleinhans Reichman
Like Bogey and Bacall, Rodger and Kathleen Sterling had a May to September romance. But the age difference didn’t matter because they, like Bogart and Bacall, were made for each other, destined to be together till death parted them. They were together for almost a quarter of a century — they loved, worked, played and traveled the world together — then all too soon Rodger was gone and she was without the love of her life.
One year after his death she packed up her laptop computer and headed to Paris, then on to London, two of their favorite cities. It was not only a journey to find herself, it was a trip that celebrated her first wedding anniversary without Rodger. While there she began to write about their life, their love story. She traveled to their special places, old haunts like their favorite hotel where she was now alone in the room they once shared. She dined in quaint cafes and lifted a glass to his memory and went to their park bench near the Eifel Tower hoping his spirit would find her and travel along with her.
The cover photo on this heartfelt memoir to an enduring love is of their ‘personal’ bench in the shadow of that special landmark — the Eiffel Tower — taken by Teo Tomas. The back of the dust jacket is the “missing man fly over” which Rodger would have appreciated as the planes flew over their home on the day of his well attended memorial service. Kathleen wrote the book to celebrate a very special life and marriage. She also wanted to assure others who were grieving the loss of a mate that life can eventually go on. She wanted to share her angst, tragedy and emotion coupled with large doses of humor and pathos as she struggled to be strong for her daughter, family and friends after the death of her beloved soulmate. One huge void in her life was the loss of sexual intimacy and she talks about that in areal and often amusing way. But it’s not only the loss of a loving sexual intimacy that is gone, it’s also the loss of small things like that glance from across a crowded room that says ‘honey, I love you,’ the arms around you at night, the quiet moments on the patio sipping a glass of wine and looking up at the stars in your back yard or in some exotic location. Her book begins with these words: “For Roger — It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart Without saying a word you can light up the dark. Try as I may I can never explain what I hear when you don’t say a thing.”
She writes about little things, like the old khaki jacket heal ways wore with such a poetic sense of love and longing. “It ’s been around the world and back. It smells of London, Paris, Prague and Rome, It carries the scent of a hundred trips and a thousand memories, but mostly it smells like Rodger.” Now it is kept under her pillow –“This piece of him that was left behind.” They met when she was in her mid twenties. He was a well respected journalist, newspaper owner and editor and she wanted to sell him the Valley Newspaper she had been publishing since college graduation. They met at a restaurant and kept talking till the place closed and they had to leave.
She gave him a passionate kiss before heading to her car and said to herself “this is the man I am going to marry” and she did. On page 13 she gives us a witty description of who they were. “He was a morning person. I’m a night owl. He drank red. I drank white…. His car was tuned to talk radio. I listen to news or classic rock. He cried when things went right. I cry when things go wrong…. Rodg was a strong conservative. I’m middle of the road. He was an indifferent Presbyterian. I’m a strong Catholic. He was a world War II historian. I’m a trashy novel queen. He drove a sedan. I drive an SUV. He graduated college in ’59. I was born in ’59. We were a perfect match.”
This is a beautiful memoir about a loving marriage that will assure the reader that even after death true love endures. (To learn more or to order a copy, go to www.sexafterdeath.com, amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.)