My cousin Joe (Joseph McCurdy) Hunt died on July 7, 1984, of what we now refer to as Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a very aggressive form of lymphatic cancer. At that point, Joe and his wife Ann had been married for well over a decade.
The only problem is, due to living in
That is, until now.
Having finally met Ann here in the
That’s an important distinction, as Joe was an exceptionally good man.
I remember Joe as my brother Ross’ best friend throughout our childhood years (the two are the same age). They spent hours a day at my grandmother Virginia (Pike) Hunt’s home, where they played at no end of imagination-based games, drew intertwining worms, and diverted my grandmother, who was otherwise preoccupied with caring for our very ill grandfather, the very brilliant W. J. (Walton) Hunt (a Hunt by adoption due to his own mother’s death in childbirth with his younger sister).
Ann and I joked today that Joe seems to have been a man designed by a woman.
Joe was intelligent, athletic, physically confident, popular, and – according to Ann – handsome. He was also monogamous, attentive, considerate, yielding, supportive, devoted and sensitive!
By the way, Joe was popular because he treated everyone deeply respectfully - as equal to him and to each other. He never put anyone down, which was one of his great gifts.
While some unhealthy women are strongly attracted to men who are the “right kind of wrong” – a phenomenon that men never cease to scratch their heads about, most well-adjusted women desire a man who is, well, exactly like Joe.
Ann met Joe when he and his mother (my aunt by marriage to my uncle John Hunt, who was also named Ann Hunt at the time) moved to
Joe was in his sophomore year of high school, and Ann noticed him immediately. In fact, she devoted that summer to doing everything she could possibly imagine on the front porch of her home, even her ironing.... Why? Because that is where Joe would notice her.
Guess what? It worked.
Joe had never been interested in girls up to that point, but Ann got his attention – much to his mother’s unready surprise. Ann and Joe went together during their high school years, but Joe was a year older, and moved to
So much for separation. The two were back together as soon as Ann finished high school and was able to move to
Joe was an active, energetic and restless person who wanted a moderately-priced home he could renovate. Ann wanted the certainty of a bathroom that worked. The compromise was that they bought a new home (no renovations required), but on the less expensive Fort Worth side of the city – meaning that Ann often faced lengthy commutes to various positions in Dallas. But Joe got his moderately-priced home, and Ann got a working bathroom.
At this point, Joe already knew that he had Hodgkin’s disease – which in those days was not so curable as it is now. Joe was so used to being physically active that it hadn't occurred to him that he might have the bathroom torn apart, and then not be physically well enough to put it back together. However, this reality had already occurred to Ann – she was making preparations for the inevitable.
While undergoing aggressive radiation treatments and chemotherapy, Joe's consciousness was temporarily so impaired that he became delirious, and did not know what was happening around him for at least a couple of weeks.
Ann took advantage of this situation to do something that Joe would not otherwise have permitted her to do. While Joe was impatient with inactivity, Ann (who retired in 2006) was impatient with working more than 1-3 years at the same job as a federal government employee.
While Joe was temporarily incapacitated, Ann accepted an upgrade to a higher-paying position as a security officer. This required carrying a gun, to which Joe, an ardent pacifist by personal makeup (rather than by ideology), would have strenuously objected.
Guess what? Joe had no say in the matter at the time, and the higher salary helped to pay the costs to which Joe could no longer contribute, due to his physical incapacity. When Joe's condition temporarily improved following therapy, he refused to allow Ann to bring her targets home to show off her increasingly accurate sharpshooter skills.
Joe's illness was psychologically difficult for Ann, who did not want to face life without him. Both he and his oncologist were too conservative to allow her to see a psychologist – until Ann told him she was leaving him if he did not permit it. At this point, Joe responded, “Why didn't you say so earlier?” Ann formed a relationship with a skilled therapist who continues to maintain a friendly relationship with her to the present day. She learned, among other things, that her verbal abilities are two standard deviations higher than her nonverbal abilities - causing her to be comfortable with reading and with writing reports and uncomfortable with operating toasters and renovating bathrooms.
Ann dated many men after Joe died. But there was a problem. None of them could measure up. She has remained single to this day, and, based on what I know about men (and, as a psychologist, about what women look for in a man) that is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
However, there has been one positive development in Ann's life since Joe's death. Joe, like me, was intensely allergic to cats. Ann loves cats, but couldn't keep them while the two were together. She now lives in a cat-filled house, and gets along well with her companions. Ann has invited Susan and me to visit (Ann has lived in
Ann and I enjoyed lunch together today at Las Olas, the archetypal surfer hangout near the beach in Cardiff-by-the Sea. Most of today's pictures were taken at Las Olas (or at Four Seasons Aviara). I have always been curious as to where they found the wave-form tiles in the washroom. Las Olas means "The Waves," in Spanish....