Anna continued going with Jim as the years rolled on. Towards the end of their relationship, he was little more than a bum. He was now renting a room and drinking pretty heavily. His mother had died some years before and he went downhill after that. He contacted lung cancer from his constant smoking and was now living on a small pension. Still, Anna was loyal to him and she tried to do what she could for him, see that he ate and took his medicine.
They would still visit us sometime but he now sounded strange as he had throat surgery and wore a voice box. My Mother would offer him a good meal but he could never eat much now. He died soon after and Anna decided to move to New Jersey and live with one of her two sisters who were living there with their families.
Soon after moving, she got a job as a hospital aide and found another apartment. She visited her sisters on her days off and found herself another boyfriend. He was an Irishman of course, and Kelly was his name. He was quite a bit older than Anna but they got along famously. He was a gruff truck driver and generous with his money. He was also a widower. He showered her with gifts and attention. She certainly wasn’t used to this but she loved it.
Anna became the talk of the family but it didn’t seem to faze her. The family was Irish, Catholic, boasting a priest. And Anna was a devout Catholic rising at five a.m. to attend mass before going to work every day. She would also walk several miles after work.
She seemed unaware of the controversy surrounding her and Kelley’s relationship. So when he gave her a large diamond and asked her to marry him, the family was surprised. Kelly was Catholic and widowed so he was fine in the eyes of the Church. But when Anna asked the priest in the family to marry them in the church he refused to perform the ceremony. Anna was devastated as he was her favorite nephew. And she had showered him with gifts and money over the years to help him become a priest. He didn’t think Kelly was good enough to be in the family.
In spite of this Anna and Kelly planned a small wedding. Just family. Then, a few weeks before the wedding was to take place an unexpected thing happened. Kelly had a heart attack and died! I remember attending the funeral. Anna was sad but stoic, not showing much emotion. But everyone knew she was that way. No nonsense.
She held up in spite of her grief. Getting up early and going to mass. And then going to work and walking miles afterward.