Heather R. Rose
May 10th 1970 – January 11th 2019
I am writing to tell the story of the life and times of my wife Heather Rose. We begin in the town of St. Joseph Michigan where Heather was born to Howard and Pricilla Mildebrandt on May 10th, 1970. Her father served in the United States Marine Corps between the Korean and Vietnam wars, while her mother was a stay at home mom taking care of the kids. Heather is the youngest of 3 sisters (Barbra, Dana and Tracy) and a cousin (Celeste) who was like a sister. Her father Howard had left the Marines before Vietnam began and had become a welder for the Boilermakers. This lead the family to travel a lot when she was very young. Not long after Heather’s birth Howard and Pricilla began divorce proceedings that became a long drawn out battle for custody. Heather was sent into foster care until the court sorted out the divorce. This lead to problems for her later in life as she was moved around a lot and only after the divorce was settled did her mother settle into Clovis California with Heather’s Grandmother. This began a fairly stable time for Heather. She attended schools in the Clovis school system and had attended Clovis West High School from 1984-1988. That is where I meet her in 1987 while she was in her junior year. At that time I was dating her friend and she was dating someone else. After those relationships had fallen apart I sought her out. I was interested in her before that but was so unsure of how to approach her. In the fall of 1987 I asked her for a date. She rejected my requests and said she would not be a “rebound romance”. I assured her that I never looked at her that way and after a lot of convincing she agreed to one date and that was all. I took her to the Clovis High vs Clovis West football game. This was a big rivalry game and we sat in the autumn air and watch the game and talked. That first date convinced her that I was very interested in her. Through the end of 1987 and into the spring of 1988 we dated regularly. I had decided to join the California Air National Guard that summer. I left for boot camp September of 1988 and trained at Lackland Air Force base until I graduated in January of 1989. During that time Heather had grown increasingly frustrated with her home life and asked to move into the house that I was living in. I said yes and Heather moved into my room and waited for me to return from San Antonio, Texas. We stayed together until the fall of 1992 when we were married at the church I once attended. Our wedding ceremony was held at Trinity Southern Baptist Church in Fresno, California on November 20th, 1992. After the wedding we settled into a fairly normal life until I had gone from working at the Air Base to a State Corrections Officer in 1994. We were on the move as we took up residence in a small town on the Central California coast. Heather became pregnant with our first child during the spring of 1995 and our daughter Shelby Rose was born at Salinas Valley Memorial hospital on December 22nd, 1995. Things looked amazing for the better part of 1995 through the beginning parts of 1997. On March 4th, 1997 our world was turned on its head. I was injured during an altercation with a group of inmates at Salinas Valley State Prison. This event would create some of the most difficult times in our lives and yet produce some of the most beautiful events we would ever know. After my injuries healed as much as they could, we were advised that disability retirement was our only option in 1999. So, I was medically retired from the California Department of Corrections. We moved back over to the central Valley where we could afford to live on my disability pension. Heather had to take a job at the local J.C. Penny’s store in the Hanford Mall. She only thought of her family and worked long hours while attending classes when she could. I was left with years of rehabilitation and excruciating pain that left me a difficult person to deal with and sometimes impossible. Heather was steadfast when it came to her family. She made countless sacrifices and did her best to keep things moving. We had discussed having a second child and the clock was ticking as we elected to have another child before Heather’s ability to do so would be compromised. So, on August 22nd, 2001 our son Patrick Rose was born. We had his named picked out for a long time and there was no debate unlike our Daughter Shelby whose name was the focus of some serious debates.
After she returned to work Heather began to struggle with personal conflicts within her working environment. As 2005 drew to a close a decision was made in the summer of 2006. Heather and I had decided to move out too Kentucky in hopes of being closer to family and allow her to release all of the stress she had collected over the years at Penny’s and be able to relax more. However, by the winter of 2007 we were setting plans in motion to return too Hanford, California. By 2008 the whole family was back in California and happier than we had been in some time. In 2015 I had earned a Master’s Degree and the family had a choice to make when it came to where we were going to live. After some discussions we had chosen to move too Littleton, Colorado. I had taken a job with the Federal Government as a project manager. Heather returned to school in hopes of finally finishing her degree in accountancy. She had been working off and on her entire adult life to get a college education. She wanted to finish her degree and was nearly there at the time of her sudden death.
Heather was a very kind and gentle person who was faced with some of the most difficult obstacles and nothing was more important to her then our children. She had to deal with the medical issues that impacted me and she advocated for the continued care that I needed. We all loved Heather, her friends, her family and her children all loved her. No one loved her more than I did. She was so many things to so many people but to me she was my world and I will miss her for the rest of my days. I pray that she will be waiting for me when I am called home so that I may be with her. We were together for 30 years with over 26 of those years as husband & wife. She was so much more to me than a wife, she was my Lover and she truly was the best friend I’ve ever known. Forgiving my selfishness and pure stupidity time after time.
While our last 5 years were very challenging as we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, while Heather’s health became more and more worrisome. we were also faced with my declining health and issues from my assault and shooting. I had always hoped that I would go first, and would tell her that I was a coward because I knew I was not as strong as she was. Nor would I want to live without her. Heather was a loving Daughter, an adorning Mother and a faithful loving wife. She always thought of others and so rarely herself. She was truly so many things too so many people. We hear how someone was so special but Heather was more than just special, Heather was a gift to this world and now the world as we know it is a very cold and dark place. That is who Heather Rose was and will always be; the very best of us. In closing I will say that I was never the perfect husband but I love her and adore her today as much as ever and I would do anything for her. Believe me when I say that I would truly trade places with her if only she could come home and be with our children, healthy and happy.
We made it against all odds, 25 years. I love her now more than ever. I wasn't always the best husband but I loved her more than anyone will ever know. If I could tell her one thing it would be that I'm keeping my promise and honoring you every day. Rest my love and wait for me, for I will find you. Death can not stop true love, it can only delay it.
May have been short but she had the biggest heart I've ever known.
A kiss goodbye my love, until we are together again. I'm broken and only she fix me.