My mom was well into the heavy thickness of chemotherapy appointments, ongoing doctor’s visits and incremental tumor growth when she fell in love with Ira.
Sure, she had been married to my Dad for nearly 50 years, but Ira poured out his heart with an openness, that my Mother had likely never experienced with a man.
Out of the blue she started talking about Ira — ALL of the time — Ira this, Ira that. My Dad semi-jokingly took to calling him “Your Mom’s Boyfriend” Every time we spoke on the phone she regaled me with some Ira story.
I assumed that Ira was a friend of my parent’s, so I didn’t pay much attention. It was good for my Mom to have something good to focus on and she was certainly focused n this. So, I was surprised one day when she asked me if I knew him. Knew who? I asked. Ira, she said rolling her eyes, Ira, from the computer? From what computer? I asked.
Suddenly, it came to me.
When I first started doing web design, many years ago, I designed sites using a Mac, and then I’d have all of my PC friends do site checks for me. Over time, as they outgrew their old CPUs they would bring them to me in the hope that I could them in my web work. The problem was that I started getting a ton of them and after awhile, I had a line of machines in the garage. At this point, I intended to wipe them, as I had promised each of my friends, then donate them to a good cause.
I never got around to it.
My parents were leaving after a visit, Kevin was working in the garage and my Mom saw the line of computers. She asked what I planned to do with them. I shrugged, she excitedly mentioned that her church was taking old equipment, wiping the hard drive and shipping them to an orphanage they sponsored. Good enough for me. We moved their luggage into the back seat and fit as much equipment into the truck as we could. I made Mom promise, as I had, that the CPUs would be erased. She nodded, I closed the trunk lid relieved that they were out of my life, and never gave them another thought.
As it turned out, my Mom decided that one of the CPUs was better than her own, so she pulled it out of the group and replaced it with her own machine before she dropped them off at the church. The machine she kept was Ira’s machine.
Ira was my friend Ted’s father. He was a psychiatrist who’d died of cancer a few months before the CPU from his nearly new machine came to me. I’d met Ira a few times and spoke to him only once at length, on a long walk between venues.
While my mom was in a long=term marriage, Ira was long-time divorced and dating. They both had three kids close in age to my sisters and I. He was as Jewish as my Mom was Catholic; and apparently fearing no one would ever know he wrote his heart out.
My mom apparently went on a journey of discovery, she mined the computer looking for any information that she could find about Ira. She empathized about the troubles he had with his kids, She read his journal, poured over his poetry, followed the threads of his correspondence and peeked into files of photos of the semi-clad women that he dated. He was an active member of J-date, an online Jewish dating site. She got hooked.
I was always terrified that Ted would find out and be angry. That his Dad might have kept his psych client files on this machine — which would be a *huge* ethical breach. On the other hand, I’d never seen my Mother so excited about getting to know someone. Given her on-going medical drama, it was hard to see that as a bad thing.
I saw Ted this weekend for the first time in years, certainly the first time since my Mom died. During the course of conversation, I told him about the computer and my mom falling in love with his Dad. He was perplexed at first, then he laughed and assured me that the computer was his father’s personal machine not his work machine. That was a relief. After that he said something that I didn’t expect — I wish I’d known about this before, I would have loved to have had a conversation with your Mom about my Dad.
I too wish he’d had the opportunity. By the end, my mom was an authority on all things Ira. It would have been an interesting conversation. Instead we toasted to their meeting in the great beyond.
I’m glad I didn’t let the fear of his anger stop me from telling him.