Many mornings for the past two years, Al DeZonia, World War II U.S. Navy veteran, would bundle up his wife Edie in her wheelchair and take her for a two-mile ride. He didn’t focus on the long walk, but rather looked into the eyes of his sweetheart and saw gratitude and love.
Al and Edie have lived in Canyon Lake for 35 years. During this time, their neighborhood has been blessed to watch and interact with this amazing couple. Both Al and Edie showed a determination that reflected their values and integrity. Their hard work along with their humor make this couple a blessing to know.
Al always had his jokes and, when he reached the punch line, Edie would stand beside him and say, “Now, Al!”
All of this changed two years ago when Edie experienced a stroke. Al became the caregiver to his 94-year-old bride. Edie could not care for herself but Al stepped up to meet her every need. Many husbands would balk at this situation, but not Al. He became Edie’s hero.
Al, being the independent person that he is, stepped into his new role carefully, but totally. Their home was always spotless, their meals were always nutritious, and visitors were always welcomed, even if one stopped by unexpectedly.
The beginning of Al and Edie’s relationship can be compared to a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie. For eight years, Al had taken part in a weekly singles dance hoping to find that “one special person.” He met many nice ladies, but not “the right one.” Finally one evening, as he prepared to make his weekly trip to the dance club in Anaheim, he prayed and said to the Lord, “Please help me find a gal I can love and take care of the rest my life; otherwise, I’m not going to go to the singles dance anymore.”
The evening transpired as many evenings before had as Al danced with nice girls but didn’t find “the right one.” Then it came time for the last dance. At this time, all of the men stood in the middle of the room and the women walked around the room forming a circle. The music then would stop, and each woman would go to the middle of the circle, choose a man, and the dance would begin.
Al soon found himself standing alone. But then he looked at a group of women and observed a neatly dressed petite woman come from behind
the group. “As Edie walked toward me, I knew that she was the right one,” Al shares, “The minute I saw her, I knew my prayers had been answered. Edie reached out her hand to me and my life has never been the same.”
Al and Edie enjoyed many activities together such as cruises to Hawaii, motor home trips to various Elks’ meetings, and eating at their favorite restaurant, Don Jose’s, in Lake Elsinore.
Al continued his loving care for Edie as long as possible but it became evident that she needed more specialized care. Last month, he carried Edie to her wheelchair and together, they exited out their front door to a waiting car. Al helped to lift her out of the chair and placed her in the car for her ride to Life Care Center in Menifee.
Throughout the transfer time from her wheelchair to the car, Al would affectionately say, “It’s okay, Sweetheart. I love you.” All the while knowing that this would be a major change in their lives. Edie remained in Life Center for four weeks while Al continued to be Edie’s hero and spend countless hours sitting by her side continuing to tend to her personal needs.
Edie was then placed in a hospice care home until she peacefully slipped from this life to her eternal reward on Sunday morning, July 10.
Indeed, Al is an “Unsung Hero.” He took his role as Edie’s husband very seriously and fulfilled his vow that he had made so many years before. “Lord, please help me find a gal I can love and take care of the rest my life.” The Lord did and Al has.
During the last week of Edie’s life, Al wrote a poem for Edie to share his feelings with her about this time in their lives. Al is a very prolific poet and has written many poems for his family during the past 60 years; but this, his most important and expressive poem, was written in July for the love of his life, Edie. Unfortunately, at that time Edie was in a coma and was never able to hear the poem. For the first time ever, Al is publicly sharing this poem with us, his Canyon Lake family.
It’s No Fun Anymore
By Al DeZonia, July 3-6, 2016
Now that your mind has left us and gone away,
Not to remember a more happy day.
A day full of laughter, a day full of love,
Times spent together, to hug each other and shove,
It’s lonely here without you every single day,
And the nights go slowly, till bedtime, and I pray.
I miss you so much, and I don’t know what to do.
The days go by so slowly, especially, now without you.
I miss that sideward glance, when you looked at me,
No one could do it, only you, it had to be.
The clothes that you always wore looked so neat and fine
And I’m always proud to be with you, anytime.
It’s no fun without you, but this I must endure,
The day will come we’ll be together again, someday, for sure.
My Dear, I’ll always love you, each and every day,
Till the end of our time, together, takes us away.
Two empty spaces, for two who really care
Two empty spaces, for two to share.
An “unsung hero” is a person who makes his or her home or neighborhood a better place to live. They are known by their simple acts of kindness, commitment, courage and love. An unsung hero could be your next door neighbor or a person you met at a local park or community event. The Friday Flyer would like to feature such people in a new series by Pat Van Dyke, “Canyon Lake’s Unsung Heroes.” Readers are encouraged to make recommendations for this series by filling out the adjacent form or emailing Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org.