Twenty four years ago I met a "boy" (turns out I actually met him twelve years before that as he and my sister shared a kindergarten teacher...hmmm...that sounds kind of bad). Anyway, we hit it off right away--one of those "sparks flyin" kinda relationships (and there were many kinds of sparks). After our first date I remember sitting on the kitchen counter talking with my mom and telling her that I had just met he "man" I was going to marry...siigghhh. Fast forward to "meeting the father".
A man I called Mister for 8 years, until I finally married his "boy", and after that I only talked to him when he was looking at me. I would sweat profusely when I needed to ask/tell him something for fear I would actually have to call him "Jim". At some point he started referring to himself as "Dad"--at which point I easily called him Jim.
Jim was nothing but polite and respectful--unless he caught me trying to sneak in or out with The Big Guy--which as a parent I now see that he used quite a bit of restraint.
I remember the smiles and intelligent conversations whether sitting in his bedroom, standing in the kitchen in his jammies or driving the kids in the tractor. Jim taught his kids many things including strength, respect, integrity and hard work all with a jocular personality.
I am grateful for the things The Big Guy learned as well as the things I have learned from Jim or through The Big Guy (half of which came from Mrs. Jim, but she deserves her own story).
The funniest thing I ever saw Jim do was play tennis--a racket in one hand, a cigarette in the other! Another time, The Big Guy and I came walking into the kitchen (who knocks when they go home to visit their parents??) and there was Jim making a piece of toast...in his underware. He (and the rest of us) pretended like we didn't know or notice--I wonder if anyone noticed my sweat soaked pits?
Jim's hospitalization has drawn me closer to The Big Guy, his siblings and especially to his mom--I won't forget the last three weeks or the last 24 years in which Jim has welcomed me as part of his family--OK there was that time at the beginning when he didn't like me because I was too short, but we got over that!
CHEERS TO A MAN FULL OF POWER, WISDOM, WIT AND LOVE.
On Monday, as I sat in the hospital holding Jim's hand, he looked over at me and said "I love you, I love you...Good bye." I love you too Jim...Good bye.
James Ayre Abbott 6.11.28--3.24.08