Maria Dolores Schneider
March 20, 1954 - January 8, 2017
Dearest Maria, my wife, best friend, warrior, true soul mate,
A final letter from me, your husband of over 37 years. When I met you in November 1976, I was a man who had for years been drinking and basically partying all the time. I know now that if you had not come into my life at that time I would probably not be here now and definitely have never made it 20 years in the Navy. It was only you, without saying a word to me, who made me slowly change.
To this day I do not know why you stuck with me for those first few years. Maybe you saw something I did not see in me. You gave me self confidence to buckle down and make a career out of the Navy. When we married and I brought you to Texas; my family fell in love with you just as I had. When you came to California where we started our life together in San Diego you turned our modest little one room apartment into a home.
For three years we lived there and all was fine. Then July 1, 1983, I had to leave you while I deployed for seven months on the USS Ranger. I still remember me getting in a taxi and heading for the base. You standing outside by the front of the apartment waving goodbye. That was the hardest thing I had ever done, leaving you alone in a new country and culture you had not gotten used to yet.
Those seven months away from you seemed like seven years. Your constant letters and packages kept coming and kept up my spirits. As you know, we lost a lot of people on that Westpac due to many accidents and a terrible fire on board which killed 18 of my fellow shipmates. It was my first time away from you and through your letters, my morale was lifted until finally I made it back to you.
Then after being home only a few months, I left for Denver to go to school for Intelligence Specialist for five months. Once again you persevered alone and even started your own self employed job at California Plaza. There your hard work was noticed by everyone. So much so that all the offices wanted you to do their office cleaning. What a great and wonderful worker you were and still you took care of me and our home.
When I returned from Denver it was only months later when I was transferred to the USS Constellation for almost five years, with two more six month deployments and numerous two month cruises. Still you stood by me through all the time away.
Finally I got transferred to North Island and I thought we could finally have some time without me leaving. All was fine until Iraq invaded Kuwait. After only being with you for 18 months, I was sent for seven months to Bahrain and prepared for all out war with Iraq. I knew you were scared for me, but I was more worried about you. Your packages to all of us in the war zone, especially the coffee, were helping all of us in Joint Task Force 163. We used your care packages to keep up the war effort.
After the war I went back to North Island but not for long. The Navy decided I needed to go to the USS Long Beach for my last three years. Once again I was gone more than home and still your strength sustained me until I finally retired on July 1, 1994. Thanks to you, I made it.
Finally we were able to travel together to Texas, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Florida. You supported me while I went to college and got my degree in criminal justice. After many security jobs, I finally got hired by Correctional Alternatives in 2000. After 9/11 I quit that job and worked as a TSA officer. Once again you supported me in whatever I decided to do.
After going back to C.A.I. to work it happened. You had a stroke on May 3, 2004 which you fought through and recovered from completely within two months. Being ever the fighter, you went back to work and all was well for almost three years. That’s when I noticed you were having trouble walking. At Balboa Hospital you were initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, your ability to work quickly taken away. We had the disease under control for four years.
In August 2011 a drastic change occurred and your ability to think clearly and do many tasks were being attacked. It’s as if a terrorist had invaded your brain and was slowly wreaking havoc. It affected every part of your mental and physical abilities. Through many hospital stays and then at home, you kept fighting this horrible disease which after all was said and done, was not Parkinson’s, but Lewy Body Dementia, a most horrible and cruel disease.
After it took your ability to move, think and speak clearly, it made its final attack. Throughout this entire ordeal you fought and never quit. But on Dec. 19, 2016, they put you in Hospice Care at home. The last three weeks of your life I prayed like I had never prayed in my life. I was by your side through it all and learned what true love was. When the Angels came for you on Jan. 8, 2017, I felt their presence. I finally knew your pain and suffering were over. God had called you home to a place where there is no pain, confusion or sorrow.
This letter is to let you know I miss you every hour of every day and will love you unto eternity. May God bless and keep you, my loving wife until we are together again when God calls me to reunite with you. Heaven now has another Angel. Thank you for enriching my life for the last 40 years.
My love to you until then.
Your loving husband Randy