Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Just Like Bogey and Bacall...


People like to ask did you and Ed ever fight? Did you ever have an argument?

Sure we did.

But with Ed it was words. Strong words. Usually words about one of the boys - mine, not his; usually about one of the ex-es - his, not mine. Ed's mother was dead, so I didn’t have a mother-in-law. I had Judy. Ed’s sister.

Ed said, and he said it often, “Don’t pay attention to my sister Judy. My sister Judy is crazy.”

The first time Ed said this was after Judy paid us a visit. We had just moved into our grand new home. We weren't rich, Ed and I, but we pooled our assets and made our start in a brand new four bedroom home in a tony location of Westchester County, 25 miles north of where The World Trade Center use to be. I was deliriously happy. I lived in Rye Brook. And, I was Mrs. Edward Louis Sclier.

It was late August. 1986. I invited Judy and her daughter and her new grandbaby for dinner. Jill lived in Scarsdale and often her mother flew in from Chicago for a visit. Though it was a work day, I managed a tray of cheese lasagna, meatballs, and Ed’s favorite, home made apple pie.

212 Betsy Brown Road was a gray cedar sided home and it sat on a tree-lined street surrounded by single family homes of corporate executives. The entry was huge. Think 2-car garage. And it had a skylight. Step through the front door, feel the cascade of sunlight on your neck, and the only stick of furniture was a table, some antique thing Ed owned before we got married. It rested against the right hand wall under the skylight, the one dripping in all that sunshine. I had never given much thought to that table, even after two tired movers carried it in and popped the daunting question, where do you want it? I just pointed to an open space, the first one I saw.

Enter Judy, Judy’s daughter, and 1 year old grandbaby four weeks later. Ed guided them from the front door, under the skylight, past the table, and into the kitchen. I lingered in the entry, giving Ed space to be with his family and show off our new home. Somehow Judy separated from Ed and I found myself alone with her standing in front of that table.

Sunlight filtered through the ceiling window. It lit the marble table top and revealed a thin coat of dust that shimmered like tiny diamonds in wet sand. Judy called my name and motioned with the tip of her chin for me to come and look.

I remember standing there, silent, as she swiped a palm across the marble top, rubbed her two fingers together, and asked, “Don’t you ever dust?”

I didn't answer at first. I felt like a wet noodle. Then, in a tiny voice, I said, “That’s Ed’s table.”

I don’t know if it was the tone of my voice or the way I whispered my words, but before I knew it, I'd unleashed the beast in this elfin raisined Vassar graduate. And I was terrified Ed would come back into the room and wonder what I had said that upset his older sister.

Like traveling 100 mph and hitting a brick wall, I wasn't prepared for Judy’s reaction. And I stood in awe as her brow beetled, her eyes flashed, and her voice thickened. Then she puckered her lips and wagged her finger in my face.

"That is not Ed’s table,” Judy said. “That is my table. My Aunt Rose gave me that table.”

The next sounds were that of Judy’s grandbaby, and Jill, and Ed wandering back into the foyer asking when will dinner be ready. I waited for Judy to mention the table to her brother. She didn't. And neither did I.

We sat in the dining room. I served the cheese lasagna and the meatballs with garlic bread. Ed poured four glasses of wine from the bottle of Pino Grigio Judy had presented us when she walked through the door. I remember Ed remarking he and I could never share a bottle of wine when we went out to dinner, because I liked dry and he liked sweet.

Later, I placed a slice of apple pie with a dollop of whipped cream on a China plate before Judy. Without taking a bite, she asked did I make my own crust.

It was sometime after Ed and I closed the door and said goodnight to Judy and her daughter and her granddaughter that I told Ed the story about the "table" in the entry and what his sister Judy had said. It was before we washed the dishes and turned out the kitchen light. It was before we passed through the foyer and headed up the stairs to bed. And it was before we kissed each other goodnight.

“Edward, please tell me, who’s table is it? Judy says the table is hers.”

It must have been the way I said that “table” word. Because Ed got the same weird expression his sister had gotten when I said the “table” word to him. Then Ed uttered his famous quote, the one that would live on in infamy, and preface future Judy visits for years to come: “Pay no attention to my sister Judy. My sister Judy is crazy."

Ed said, "That table is mine.”

Now I got the weird look at the "table" word. And I said, “I don’t care who’s table it is. I want it the [expletive deleted] out of here."

The next day the sun came out. Ed went to his office. I went to mine. That evening I arrived home and found Ed sitting peacefully in the den, feet up, reading the newspaper.

I said, “You’re home early.” And he was. “What a nice surprise.”

I served dinner, left over lasagna. And then I served dessert, left over apple pie with a dollop of whipped cream, and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Ed ate it in three bites.

“I spoke to my sister today,” Ed said. He wiped his chin with his napkin. “And I want you to know that the table in the entry is yours.” He rested his fork on his empty plate, and added, “The subject of that table will never come up again.”

It is 1,023 days since Edward died. The "table" and the house it lived in on Betsy Brown Road, along with Ed, are a memory. My "table" is displayed proudly under a skylight in the foyer of a different home, the one Ed and I shared before his death. I often look at it and think back to how much Ed loved me back. And once in awhile, when I'm feeling lonely for Ed, I pull out a dust rag and have a good laugh.

Goodnight, Ed Sclier. Where ever you are!

1 comment:

  1. Linda! This is a wonderful story. It flows. It is alive with images and characters and life itself. I'm so glad you mentioned this at JWW today! I love your blog. It may be for widows, but it has application to others, as well.



You have permission to email Linda Della Donna at grief case net (all one word) (the) @ (sign) with your grief comments/questions. Responses to your grief questions will appear here.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.