… We witnessed a reconciliation of sorts during Dad’s last years. They worked as a team to battle his heart disease and became nearly inseparable. Dad confirmed this by signing his typewritten updates, “Genoel,” a combination of their names. Mom was the main reason he chose to stay at home instead of in the hospital. But that decision required an extraordinary effort on her part. No spring chicken herself, she struggled to get him in and out of the house, and to and from the outpatient heart clinic several times a week. After seeing our seventy-six-year-old mother crouch behind and push our eighty-two-year-old father’s butt up the four steps to the house, Caryl begged them to move to the Jersey Shore so she could take care of them. Mom smiled, looked at Dad and said, “We’re doing all right, aren’t we?” He nodded, yes, and those two iron-willed folks stayed put. I saw this tandem perform their technique just once. And though I found it painful to watch, it was a beautiful sight to see.
Mom’s sacrifice and commitment, heroic by any measure, was appreciated by us all, but no one more than Dad. I saw it in his eyes when she entered the room and the way he reached for her hand. Kisses were now the norm. A few days before he left this world, Mom floated into the kitchen. Her face glowed. I asked, “What happened?” She grinned, “He said I have a good heart.” And just like that, any lingering bitterness from their forty-nine-year marriage simply vanished. She sat and continued. “He doesn’t want to be buried alone. So, I said, Okay, I’ll join ya,” thus breaking their long-standing vow to spend their eternal lives in separate graves. In a sense, they came full circle. From that moment on, I don’t believe my mother uttered a negative word about my father or their marriage.