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What did he have a reputation for?
Being a smartass. He did have a criminal record. We didn't really talk about it. But everyone thought that I married down and he married up. He did not come from the best of families.
I can remember being about ten years old, and knowing that your relationship wasn't all that it should have been.
It wasn't. You become part of the environment. And his whole life sucked, really. All your father ever wanted was to make his mom happy. And she wouldn't give him the time of day. So how are you, as a young boy, supposed to learn how to treat women with those role models?
Your father said something to me one time, and I looked at him and said, "Don't you ever talk to me like that again." And he said, "Well, my father talked to my mother like that." I said, "You are not your father, and I am not your mother." My father never talked to my mother like that.
What was the first indication that he may not have been like your father?
Well... This may be more information than you want to know, but there was a time when I was pregnant and I came home from work. I came up the stairs, and I happened to see your father on the couch with somebody. And I turned around and quietly walked back downstairs. I didn't say anything. But, because I took my vows so seriously, I put up with an awful lot. There were times I allowed him to do things that were denigrating to me.
Did you do that for yourself, or for me and my sister?
Um... I thought I would never be able to get anybody else. Up until then I had dated very few people — one here, one there.
Had you had any other significant relationships, or were they all just a-couple-dates sort of thing?
Most of were a couple dates. I had a couple intimate relationships, but they weren't really dates...
It was the '60s, after all.
It was the '60s.
In the summer of 1989, my father was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer.
We went to the hospital at five in the morning. They did a chest x-ray, and an IV. The doctor told me that he had cancer in the lungs. I said, "Okay." And he said, "And, he's got it in his liver." And I said, "Okay." "And, he's got it in his spine." I said, "Okay then, I will let him know." And the doctor said, "Really?" I said, "Yes. I will talk to him." And he was like, "Thank you so much!"
We had a very good relationship, at that point. I was changing his morphine, and he told me, at one point, he wanted to thank me for doing this for him. Because nobody else would.
I don't really remember you giving my sister or me much relationship or dating advice. But if we have kids of our own, what would you want to say to your grandchildren about dating?
I'm definitely not an expert on it. You've probably had more dating experience than I've had. But they need to find someone who is equal. "You are no better than me, you are no worse than me. The only difference is, you're a guy, and I'm a girl."
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