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, seeing to it that he ate and took his medicine.
They would rarely visit us but he now sounded strange as he had throat surgery and wore a voice box but he still smoked. My Mother would offer him a good meal but he could never eat much now. He died soon after and Anna decided to moved to New Jersey to live with one of her two sisters who were living there. One was single and had a good job and one was married and had several children. She moved in with the single one since they had more in common and it was quieter. That only lasted a short while and she found herself a room in a private house.
Soon after moving, she got a job as a hospital aide. 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 was a Health Nut before they were popular.
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. He was always an arrogant pain in the ass anyway. Anna was devastated as he was her favorite nephew. And she had showered him with gifts and money over the years when he was struggling. 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. It was a very sad affair especially so since it was supposed to be a wedding. By this time I had also moved to New Jersey with my family and lived not far from Anna. She was sad but stoic, not showing much emotion. But everyone knew she was that way. No nonsense.
Anna held up in spite of her grief, getting up early and going to mass each day. Then she’d go to work and walk miles afterward. She never did marry!