I married Neal Unger (Old Man Skateboard) on the beach, with vows he wrote, shortly after we met in 2011. It’s a romantic story!
grief and gratitude live side by side
Ken Earhart was my husband for 38 years. He died March 19, 2011 of pancreatic cancer. My seven children and I were heartbroken. In May, I joined a bereavement group at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. A tall, slender, white-haired man with bright blue eyes was there because his wife died of ovarian cancer in November of 2010. His name was Neal. He was wearing a goofy hand-made crocheted hat – the look reminded me of Shaggy from Scooby Doo cartoons. Neal was friendly with everyone and I seldom got to sit next to him.
Learning to face loss
The facilitator was a dynamic woman named Marilyn Kaplan. Ms. Kaplan instructed the group that in order to move through grief efficiently we should give it our full attention for one hour daily. I started by reading the sympathy cards that were filling my mailbox, then I sat with momentos like glasses, pictures, a watch and wallet for the prescribed time. Next I moved up to watching vacation videos with his sandals in my lap.
I was attending the group twice a week by this time. Neal had offered to show me where a second class, one for those who lost loved ones to cancer. We talked a bit and found we’d read a few of the same spiritual books.
who is that guy?
I told my daughter about Neal, and she went directly to Google him, finding photos and interviews and his Youtube channel. I hungrily devoured the interviews and repeatedly watched his initial bounce trick video taken in the woodshop where he worked. My daughter warned “He looks like a wild man; better stay away!” Good advice, of course. I was recently widowed, in emotional pain, vulnerable and not possessing the best judgement…
Admitting my feelings
But one week when Neal didn’t come to group I realized how I felt and how I would feel if he quit coming altogether! The following week I was relieved to see him and let him know. Then he asked me out. After that the romance blossomed.
He drives a muscle car
I live in the desert and invited Neal to visit me there. He was driving a 66 Chevy Caprice and opted for public transportation; I picked him up at the bus stop. Right away he wanted to buy me a ring! We did that, and he wrote spiritual vows thanking our Higher Selves for this relationship and making a commitment to keep love alive between us no matter what—and he picked a place near Huntington Beach where we said those to each other on September 18th.
We join forces to make the world a better place
By mid October he moved in with me (subletting his beach apartment) and on October 18, 2014, we married each other legally. We said our vows in front of family and friends and an officiant two days after Ty Evans, with Paul Rodriguez and a host of other wonderful skaters parked in our driveway and filmed Neal doing a kickflip, which you can see in the out takes, at the very end, of We Are Blood. What a surprise and honor when we attended the premier and it was the last trick!
Also I’m a midwife and a baby was born in our home on the day that scene was filmed!
Can’t keep him to myself, can I?
It’s pretty awesome to be married to Neal Unger; and since you’re reading this you probably share my passion for all things Neal. I will try to capture and share his big personality, as well as links to his work, on the pages of this blog. Keep Skating!