When was it? Last summer? Last spring?
Money was tight, very tight, and I was finally sitting down with him, the long-procrastinated conversation where I was telling him things were tight, Ted's job sucked, I wasn't working because I was too busy working to take care of his grandchildren. That conversation.
We were on my porch just sitting, quietly, on folding chairs. And it went totally differently from the way I expected.
He told me about a time when things were very tough for my parents, when most of their money was gone, when he had to work super-hard, when it looked like they weren't going to make it.
I told him Ted was working too hard to take on a conversation about money, let alone another job. His terrible low-paying job is worse than most in that it doesn't allow him to take on a second job; because the days vary from week to week, because of the occasional evenings required, and because he's on every other weekend, he can't take a Sunday job or anything that would require an evening or a regular weekday. Sigh. It was hard enough trying to structure our lives before Gavriel Zev was born, when I was working Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
My father liked Ted and respected him for working hard. He once said (parents, take note: sometimes your kids are listening to the most stupid, trivial things) of a rabbi he had met, "I have a hard time respecting somebody younger than me who has a pot belly." So I always wondered if Ted, being a bit heftier than my father, could possibly be an exception to that, (to be fair, my father had a tough time staying over 130 lbs even before he got sick)
Speaking of stupid trivial things: two Wise Utterances of my late father:
Not sure when, maybe when I introduced him to my soon-to-be first husband? "A good age to lose your virginity is 37."
And also, I wasn't around, but my ex-husband was there once talking to my father (both dead now!) and my mother came in with a snack for my father: an apple. After she left, he said to Jeremy, "An apple? She brings me an apple?" Jeremy: "What would you have wanted instead?" Father: "Sex?"
So the conversation on the porch. It meandered. We didn't get anywhere much. I said I'd make up a budget so he could at least see where the money was going. We agreed that we'd call the schools and try to figure out how to lower the tuition a bit.
The point was just his admitting he'd been there, that he could respect tough times. I only found out later that that was how he ran his business. I'd always thought it was this great irony: son of the communist, running a capitalist mortgage operation with my mother's family's money. Not exactly, because he promised his father when he went into the business that he'd never put a working man out of his home. And he never did.
And he not only didn't put us out of our home, he left me feeling way more whole than I had in a long time.