Love in an instant extends beyond a lifetime

Basia Jaworska and Maynard Silva. — Photo courtesy of Basia Jaworska Silva

We can only hope to experience profound love with a partner once in our lifetime. After the initial mind-altering and delicious sensation of falling in love, the cloud eventually recedes and our feet hit the ground. We are faced with the challenge of how to make this powerful force called love work day to day.

My love story may not be greater than anyone else’s, but it’s one that may add a little color to an otherwise gray winter day on the Vineyard.

Before I knew Maynard Silva, I thought he was the Dippin’ Donuts man on the Island, driving around with a giant donut painted on the side of his van. It was a huge surprise to me when I saw him playing a steel guitar at HarborFest in Oak Bluffs. Just prior to this performance, I had been traveling around Europe and was in the habit of drawing or “sniper-sketching,” so naturally I captured Maynard in ink.

It wasn’t even a week later that we literally ran into each other at the Vineyard Haven Post Office. I introduced myself and asked him if I could send him the sketch. After he fumbled to remember his post office box number, we parted, both stunned by the intriguing energy exchange. Still, all I knew of the man I met was that he was the Dippin’ Donuts guy named Maynard, who also played a loud, resonating guitar (and was the subject of a cool sketch.) But the impression was lasting.

Another week went by and I hadn’t gotten a response from him. I figured he wasn’t overly impressed with my handiwork, but then, as fate would have it living in a small town, I ran into him again at the Coop Bank parking lot. Big smiles. The sketch got a thumbs up. He asked to call me and I said yes but didn’t give him my number. “Let him find it,” I thought. He did in a day, and we were off and running.

Within two weeks of our first (and only) “date,” in July of 1998, not only did I learn that Maynard’s van carried band equipment and not donuts, but more surprisingly, that he knew he wanted to marry me. In prior relationships, I couldn’t seem to get past the seven year mark (what is it about that number?), so I told him I would only seriously consider marrying him after seven years of being together. In the meantime, we had a ring made from his brass guitar slide as a symbol of our commitment to the notion of marriage.

Our first year together was filled with fun and blissful moments. I couldn’t have been happier. October arrived. At a gig, Maynard sang “Cross My Heart” by SonnyBoy Williamson to me. It was so sweet and romantic, but I wasn’t convinced it was time to marry yet.

The years came and went — five years to be exact — and each October the question would come up and each time I felt that, “We came this far and things are good, why not wait just a little longer?” Then, just as we were approaching seven years of being together, the unimaginable happened. Our apparently unshakeable bond erupted into a maelstrom and disintegrated. Aside from all the pain, I thought how wise I was to have stood my ground on the marriage issue. I also realized how jinxed I was.

One and a half years went by. Our lives continued on different paths. Maynard started cancer treatments as I helplessly looked on from the outside. Then slowly, we started talking again. One day, we came to an understanding and looked at each other silently, asking if this meant we were together again. We happily decided that we were. He was in remission, and we felt hopeful about having a full life together.

Two months after our thrilling reunion, Maynard went in for a routine CAT scan. It revealed that the cancer was back. We were devastated but somehow tried to stay positive. On the ride home from Boston, I made up my mind. I told Maynard that if he still wanted to get married, I was ready to do it. There was no hesitation in his positive response. I wanted to believe that the power of love would conquer the disease and, at the very least, we’d have a good time trying. When I also realized it was October and we were past the seven-year mark, I knew nothing could be more right.

We married in January, 2007. Greatest wedding I had ever been to. The next year and a half was filled with so much love, a deepened bond and, of course, outrageous humor. It was not without the challenges of cancer treatments and pain.

As Maynard approached his final days, we talked about my future. He knew I would find love again, and he supported it, but chided me that if I got with the wrong guy he’d haunt me from the grave. He also promised to be my guardian angel. And he is. I have since found love with the right man. I am happy to report that Maynard has not haunted me.

Artist Basia Jaworska and musician and sign painter Maynard Silva were married on Jan. 14, 2007 in Vineyard Haven. Maynard, a fixture in the Island community, died on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was 57.