The holidays always get me thinking of family, which is to be expected. Christmas makes me think of one family member in particular: good old Ted, my mom’s third husband. He passed away just before Christmas, a couple years back. Now, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I think of him again. I’m very thankful he was in our lives.
It was many years ago that he and mom met, both quite elderly, and mom was not in the least interested in a relationship. She is not one of these people that need to have someone around so she or he doesn’t feel lonely. After Jim, husband number two, passed away, she moved to Naples to be near family, and that’s where she met Ted. He was in his eighties, a widower, and he pursued her. They became friends, and then came the BIG event: she introduced him to us. When I say, “us,” I do not just mean my wife, our daughter and me. No, I mean almost all the family.
We’re talking four sons, their wives and just about all the grandkids. It made for quite the huge get-together. My mom, of course, rose to the challenge; she prepared a massive banquet all by herself, and using her simple basic stove. There was food for fifty! Ted, the poor fellow, sat there and tried to take it all in. You see, Ted, despite being twice married before, had no children. His family was quite small.
After the dinner, my mom laid things out for Ted: this was her life. She had a large extended family, we were always “in each other’s business,” and that was not going to change. Could he accept that?
As it turned out, he could. They were married shortly after that, and were very happy. My daughter dearly loved Ted. He called her “Cookie” and played the electric organ for her. It was after their marriage that we learned that Ted was quite well off. We were all very happy. Things had been tough for mom for many years, and it made the family glad to know that she would not have to worry about money.
Mom was never one to be ostentatious. She was quite happy to live her life simply. If she had a nice home, a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, and could go on the occasional trip, she was happy.
Ted was more than happy to be part of that.
Then, the years began to take their toll. Ted was already in his eighties, when they met and his health began to decline. At first, it wasn’t much; he just had trouble walking. Then the pains got worse, he got sicker, and he ended up in the hospital. It was very hard to see him like that. Finally, my mom moved him to Hospice. There he found comfort. Mom was very pleased to see how well they cared for him. As a result, his final days were peaceful. That was December of 2005.
It was especially hard on my daughter. She had never lost anyone close to her, and as she’d never known my dad, Ted was the only grandfather on my side of the family she’d ever had. The next summer, my mom facing the prospect of driving to Martha’s Vineyard alone, we went with her. It made her time on the island that much less lonely.
Now, all these years later, I still think of Ted as the holidays approach. He was a good man, and I miss him. I can’t help but be grateful to him for seeing to it that my mom was secure in her Golden Years. When I see stories of old people struggling, or I see an elderly worker at some store, I am truly thankful for all he did for her.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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