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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Family · #1620169
This past June, I lost my second father.
         The third week of this past June marked a milestone in my life that I never wanted to think about, never wanted to reach. I got a card from Suzie, Linda's older sister. George Hart, their father, and for the formative years of my life (17-31), my father as well, had passed away on June 2nd. I immediately looked at Linda's birth certificate, noting his age at the time of her birth in 1949. It meant that he was either 86 or 87 at the time of his death (I don't know if he'd had his birthday yet this year or not).

         The card read in part, "Dear Jim, I regret having to tell you this, but you need to know. Dad passed away peacefully on June 2nd. He suffered from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, as well as congestive heart failure, kidney failure and respiratory distress. He spent his last few months in and out of the hospital and nursing home. Mom and I were with him some part of every day. He died knowing we loved him. "

         I went numb. To borrow a phrase ffrom my book about the years Linda and I had together, everything fell into place now. Only this time that phrase wasn't referring to my finding out what had been responsible for the way she had been so ignored or taunted by people in her life (her epileptic seizures). This time it's about suddenly finding out why I hadn't received a letter from him in so long. He hadn't been well enough to write. Not that I'd been very punctual in writing to him myself. I have to live with that, but it doesn't make this numbing knowledge any easier.

         {I showed the card to my wife Marilyn and stepson Derek so they'd know what was behind my actions if I wasn't myself for a while.) After reading the card I immediately had scene after scene from those years with Linda flash through my head:

         Our elopement and wedding in Newport, Ky. when we were both 19. And how that event had taken all the pressure off George and Ginny. The emotional roller coaster that my own parents put all of us through back then, including George and Ginny could no longer take its toll on any of us.

         My parents' attitude toward my relationship with Linda that resulted in our elopement also caused the total destruction of my relationship with my parents. They had forced me to make a choice between them and Linda; and to me, there was no choice to be made.

         That's when George and Ginny for all practical purposes became my parents too. I was only 18 then, but I was out on my own at a time when the legal age in Ohio was still 21. And they both stepped right up without the slightest hesitation and welcomed me into the family. The fact that I had chosen to love Linda in spite of her seizures rather than to be scared off by them as so many others had been told them my love for her was serious, and lasting. They - especially George - got the son they never had and I got parents - especially a dad - that I could relate to, and even confide in. Something I relished because I never had that kind of closeness to my own father at any time in my life.

         I got my own place (a $50-a-month unFINISHED, much less unFURNISHED apartment), my first full-time job (light factory work in a local book company's page folding department at $50 a week). I had to do that in order to keep my freedom. I had to be in a situation where my parents were not paying at least half of my support in order to keep that freedom because of my age. I grew up fast, out of necessity. Not just for myself, but I had to stay one step ahead of Linda so I could answer all her questions, and be there for her as SHE grew up. Her sheltered life because of those seizures meant that she had a lot to learn, about many things, and she knew it. Growing up at least one step ahead of her and being able to take care of her at the same time was my biggest challenge. Yet one that I relished. And George and Ginny were right there to advise me when I asked for it. Yet they never tried to tell me what to do in any situation, let alone give me advice I hadn't asked for. They waited for me to ask. They let me make my own choices. (And I loved them even more for that, because my own parents had always done the exact opposite: they'd had my life all planned out, and never let me have any say in it; and telling me I couldn't even see Linda again until after finishing 5 years of college without even considering my feelings in the matter was the last time they ever tried to do that; that's when I moved out and on my own.) 

         Since I was already a member of the Hart family in their eyes, holidays were spent with them too. They, and Linda, taught me what real love is about and not to be afraid to show it. My family was never the affectionate type. But Linda's was, and I quickly came to fully appreciate that fact and what that could do to deepen any relationship.

         George and Ginny sold their house here about 1996 and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Correspondence between George and I came in spurts, sometimes one of us not getting around to writing for a month or so, and sometimes we'd trade two letters in one month.

         When I got that card from Suzie, I realized why it had been almost 18 months since I last heard from George. The fact that he died peacefully is my only consolation, but it's surely the most important one, and I thank the Lord for letting it happen that way.

         Thanks dad (George), and you too, mom (Ginny), for all you did for me through those very important and wonderful years. I love you both dearly.


Rest in peace, Worshipful Brother George.

I miss you, dad.

Jim Williamson, Past Master, Harry K. Eversull Lodge #754, F. & A.M.

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