Yesterday I called him: was he going to the cemetery on Memorial Day? No, he had already visited. His second wife had died a few years before. “Do you want to go to lunch?”
I met him at the Bob Evans near his house. This man, a mere twenty years older than I, is in many ways a mystery to me. We lost touch for literally decades — he and his wife moved around the country, following her children from Florida to Utah to Arizona. My sister Linda always knew where he was. Me, I didn’t care to bother if he didn’t. My feminism contained too much anger at his leaving my mother, alone with three young children.
He returned to Ohio when his wife got real sick; he had three Beiser children here to help take care of them. She died and he stayed close. He now lives down the street from Linda. Our main relationship consists of his helping me with practical house tasks like fixing the sliding doors when they get stuck and the garage door when it won’t close. Last summer we spent one afternoon each week sawing several trees that fell down during storms. My reward was a huge wood pile for my fireplace.
So when we met at Bob Evans, the greeter said “Hello, Norman.” I responded “Ah, on a first-name basis, huh?” Then he told me about his favorite waitresses and their shifts. He introduced the manager to me; she took a one minute break and sat down on his side of the booth. I know he keeps from being lonely by going out to eat. He has his own fan clubs at various restaurants in town.
So Mystery Man and I were alone. No task to focus on, no sister to keep the conversation going. The two of us talked about the food, then he began sharing what he knew of the Beiser family that month. He caught me up to date on the shelves he was building in Linda’s basement, how Steve was not communicating, and how the woman in the apartment across the hall keeps wooing him with food.
We obviously have some karma together. We resemble each other physically (except I’m not bald). He won’t succumb to my mentions of politics. We don’t have intellectual conversations. He doesn’t ask much but, then, I usually tell him what I’ve been doing. He shows his fatherhood in just being — listening, companionship, and craving service through his handyman jobs.
we’re obviously related;
it shows in many ways.
still, there are stories untold.