"Babe, I leave this for you"

Seven years after her police-officer husband died in the line of duty, Lydia Galvan clings to his memory -- any way she can

For Mrs. Galvan, the main culprit is Lucas, not God. She's seen her only once, in court two years ago. They've never spoken. Nor has she received a penny of the settlement money.

"She has not called me," says Mrs. Galvan bitterly. "No. Uh-uh.

"Look how long David stayed in the service risking his life," she says, her voice rising. "All I wanted was for her to go to jail."

Night and day, Lydia Galvan keeps a small flame burning, below, for her late husband. She buys a new candle every four to six days.
Mark Graham
Night and day, Lydia Galvan keeps a small flame burning, below, for her late husband. She buys a new candle every four to six days.
Lydia Galvan, with son Isaac, holds a picture of her late husband. Shortly after his father's death, Isaac named his newborn son David in his father's memory.
Mark Graham
Lydia Galvan, with son Isaac, holds a picture of her late husband. Shortly after his father's death, Isaac named his newborn son David in his father's memory.

Lucas never did.

"My mom has real deep feelings toward the lady who did that," says Isaac Galvan, a soft-spoken man of 27 who bears a striking resemblance to his late father, the man for whom he named his firstborn son. As for the driver, "I really have no concerns about her. I could care less. It's not going to bring my father back."

For Mrs. Galvan, the feelings run hotter. And that whopping settlement is the closest she can come to a just retribution.

"If I can't have David," she adds, "she ain't gonna have nothing."

And if Mrs. Galvan can't have her husband, at least she has a part of him to keep forever.

"It might be against the law for me to have it," she says of the relic in her freezer, "but I don't know how. He's mine anyway.

"He is my man. My husband," she says, raising her voice defiantly. "I never plan to go bury it."


Even at 53, when Mrs. Galvan recalls how she met her late husband, she giggles like a schoolgirl.

Lydia Soliz was all of 18 when she and her family attended a Jehovah's Witnesses church picnic in Brownwood. When a 19-year-old David Galvan, fresh from serving in the Marine Corps, saw her that day, he knew she was the one for him. He asked her out. She said yes, and a week later, their courtship began, as he made the nearly hour-long trip from Fort Worth to see her at her family home in Venus.

One of four children born to a farm worker, Lydia, a self-described "country girl," gave David a welcome reprieve from military food by making him homemade tortillas, rice and beans, and chicken.

When, a month later, David asked her parents for permission to marry her, the answer was swift. No, they said; she's too young.

Within months, though, Lydia was pregnant, and shortly after the birth of their first child, Lena, they married.

"David was the kind of person who wanted to help people no matter what," says Mrs. Galvan. And so, in 1977, he joined the Dallas Police Department and worked in its southwest patrol division.

"We lived daily by what he made," she says. "No big home or expensive cars, but for me it was happy because he had a home for me and my kids."

David Galvan was the consummate family man. "He wouldn't lead me astray," says his son Isaac, now a worker for Fort Worth's water department. "If someone was bothering me at school, he would tell me what to do before it escalated."

For all the stability that he provided his family, David Galvan -- in his brutally honest fashion -- always prepared them for the possibility that someday something might happen to him on the job. And if he were in an accident, he told his wife, he would rather die there than be a "vegetable."

As time passed, though, Mrs. Galvan pushed such grim thoughts to the back of her mind. And after 16 years of seeing her husband thrive as an officer, after seeing him receive 18 commendations as well as awards for marksmanship, saving a life, and safe driving, that possibility didn't seem likely at all. So many were his achievements that the pay cut he took in 1985 for being in a preventable accident barely tarnished his record.

Even after working long hours, David Galvan often stayed late at work, advising a younger cop about how to fill out the rookie evaluations due at day's end. "He didn't have to hang around, but he would," says detective Daniel Moreno, now 36. That was just David Galvan's way, he says, of regarding his fellow officers as brothers -- brothers, Moreno adds, for whom Galvan would have put his life on the line.

At six on the morning of December 14, 1993, David Galvan gave his wife his usual goodbye kiss. He told her to be ready by evening so the two of them could buy a go-cart as a Christmas present for their youngest son, then 7 years old. On most days, he told her he loved her, but not that morning. He was just too rushed.


Mrs. Galvan was home, taking a lunch break from her job as a nanny, when she turned on the TV to The Young and the Restless. A news bulletin interrupted the program. An auto accident involving a police car had occurred on West Ledbetter Drive, the report said.

"That's where David works," Mrs. Galvan thought.

She felt a pain surge through her chest. She picked up the phone. Called the police. They told her nothing. Just as she put the phone down, she looked up and saw, from her living-room window, a chaplain and several police officers leaving their cars.

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