It was 10 years ago this week that we said good bye to Mark's dad, Joe Collis. He wasn't a Joseph (despite my dad really wanting to call him Joseph!), he was "just Joe." He used to his joke that his parents couldn't afford to give him a middle name.
I met Joe the week after he had buried his lovely wife Ida. He was pretty much shattered by her death. Joe's body was beaten up from the many months of taking care of his Ida while ALS ravaged her body. That first time I met Joe, he was pretty frail and still in shock over Ida's death. I was pretty nervous about meeting him, not just because he was Mark's dad but because the meeting was happening so soon after the death of his wife. Mark's niece and nephew were there (we met for dinner) and that helped break the ice and put us all at ease. About half way through dinner, Joe leaned toward Mark and loudly whispered, "I don't think she's Jewish." I smiled and pretended not to hear. Mark just glared at his dad and then we both laughed.
Even though I was a shiksa, Joe accepted me and we developed a friendship. He allowed me into his life and accepted that I was in love with his son and was probably going to be around for a while.
When we opened our restaurant in Kingston, named "Ida's Kitchen" to honour his bride, he was thrilled. We even had Ida's Kitchen business cards made up for him (her face was our logo). Joe and I had long conversations in the years that followed about their
love story (Ida was 16 when they married and they needed a special
document signed by her parents to give them permission to marry) and
their wonderful life together (winters spent in Florida, summers in Belle Ewart, cruises, trips, every day things...). He never got over her death and I know
he believed that they'd be reunited when he passed away. I don't
believe that but I'm so glad that he took comfort from that idea. After
almost 60 years of marriage, he hung around for another 7 without her.
About 2 years after Mark had moved to Kingston, Joe decided to make the move too. We were really happy to have him close by. Mark and I wanted to be able to help him out and keep an eye on him. Looking back, I'm so grateful that we had those years together with Joe in Kingston. I really got to know him and love him. Mark and Joe always had a tense relationship (Mark was much closer to Ida than he'd been to Joe) but I know that they both loved each other even if they didn't like to talk about stuff like that.
I miss Joe a lot. There have been so many times over the years when I have thought, "boy Joe would love that!" and I have to remind myself that he's not here. It makes me really sad to think that Joe and Ida and now, both of their sons are all gone now. 10 years is a long time. It's longer than I even knew Joe. He really was one of the good guys and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is missing him and remembering him this week.