My Story: I’ve Had Four Great Loves in My Life
by Beth Kozan
I’ve just had my 75th birthday; it’s a good time to take stock of my life and set new intentions.
My first love was Doug. We began dating in our small hometown of Floydada, out on the Texas prairie, when I was 14 and he was 16, and married when we were 20 and 22. He went to Texas Tech in Lubbock to study architecture, but found himself devoting more time to rock and roll than his classes. Eventually Doug was asked to play bass with the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s original band. When the Crickets played a concert and TV gig with Hollywood A Go-Go, with Doug on bass (to be filmed in Honolulu), we flew to Honolulu with J.I. Allison (the Crickets’ drummer) and Peggy Sue (Yes! THAT Peggy Sue!).
His deferments exhausted, Doug was drafted into the Army in 1966. I joined him at Ft. Bliss in El Paso, where our first daughter was born. At birth, she was diagnosed with microcephily and declared profoundly retarded. No cause for her condition was found in her five short years on Earth. She was born five days before Doug graduated from the electronics course he was enrolled in; he tumbled from second in his class to last. He wanted to go AWOL and drive across the border into Mexico to disappear. I convinced him to get an appointment with the Army’s Mental Hygiene Department. The Army took away his security clearance and sent him to Ft. Huachuca in southern Arizona, telling him after three months to go to Mental Hygiene there to have his security clearance status evaluated. That was a verbal order, not given in writing. He waited out his time in the Army, and upon discharge, got a job in Tucson as a draftsman at the University of Arizona Physical Plant. Our daughter Heather was born in 1970, and she outpaced her sister’s developmental abilities in three months. Doug was turning 30, and to prove he couldn’t be trusted, he left us when Heather was 11 months old. He eventually remarried and had two children with his second wife, ultimately dying in a fiery car accident in Texas in 2011.
Tommy was an architect. We met in a divorce recovery group: Tommy was struggling after his second divorce, and I was getting over my first. He had custody of his daughter, Stacy, who was eight years older than Heather, who was two when we married. We blended our families and bought our first house, and I earned a Masters degree in Counseling and Guidance. Tommy adopted Heather after Doug, on a rare visit, took her to see the Superman movie when she was eight. She wisely used the quarter we’d slipped into her shoe for an emergency phone call home. Tommy and I drove to Doug’s broken down car at the drive-in movie. She told us she had feared Doug wouldn’t bring her home, but would take her to Sierra Vista, Arizona, where he was living with his second family. Tommy, on his 40th birthday, told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. He died in 2015 from health problems, alone in California.
I knew Elliot from a personal change group I was part of while training for my Masters Degree. Our relationship was based on friendship and sex! After his 9-year-old daughter, Nina, disappeared with her non-custodial mother following spring break, and then his car was repossessed, he would hitchhike from Prescott to Tucson on Friday nights and hitchhike back to Prescott on Sunday nights. He wanted us to get married, but I’d had it with marriage; I felt sure marriage would guarantee he would leave me. The adoption company I worked for bought my Tucson house and moved us to Phoenix in 1988. Before he turned 50, Elliot rode his mountain bike from Phoenix to Seattle, his crowning achievement. Elliot died just six weeks shy of our reaching 35 years together.
But I said at the outset of my story that I had four great loves!
The fourth love of my life was Bill, who was a friend of Doug’s and mine in college. When Bill returned to Texas Tech after Doug and I married, he slipped me a note that said: “I’ll always be waiting in the wings.” We had a special long-distance relationship, writing letters and poems to each other as I moved about the country with my various partners. He was my safety net, right up to his death from AIDS in 2005.
A musician, an architect, a bicyclist, and a poet – I’ve had four Great Loves in my 75 years. Now, as a writer, do you think I can leave before I’ve exhausted that supply of experiences? I’m just getting started!
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.