Audrey Newman (R) talks with her mother, Florence (L) who has Alzheimer’s, about her father, Joe Newman.
Audrey NewmanAN: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you meet dad? Smokey Joe, that was his nickname.
Florence Newman (FN): How did I meet Dad? What I recall was that there was a young man coming back from the service and the family wanted to invite as many women as possible, so that he would, you know, meet people. And so I said ”yeah, sure, what do I care they’re going to feed me?” You know. It was a regular apartment like any other apartment in the Bronx. And I went to the bathroom. Unfortunately it did not lock, so before I went in I yelled down the hall. So I said, ”alright everybody, I’m going to the bathroom, the door won’t lock”. So I go in, I drop my pants and so I’m sitting on the toilet and all of a sudden the door opens up wide…
AN: And it was Dad?
FN: No, This big guy comes in and I screamed. And who do you think ran in and grabbed him from the back of the neck and pulled him away. That became your father.
AN: Wow, I never heard that story.
FN: That’s the truth. Sure, why do you think I married him? (laughter)
AN: What happened after that? Did you guys then?
FN: We dated, yeah. And we got attached to each other. Yeah, exactly, hey he was a good guy and he took care of me, you think I’m going to let him go?
AN: You and dad were married for 51 years?
FN: I used to tease him, ”how’d you stand me for all those years?”
AN: What was his answer?
FN: ”Don’t ask me!”
AN: That sounds like him,
FN: Yeah that was him. yeah, ”Don’t ask me, I’m liable to tell you”.
FN: Oh gosh. Like any couple who are married together, I mean sure there are good times and bad times, but that is what life is about. A marriage has to be what two people make of it. You know someone says to me, ”how can you live with a man who works nights, he out all night long, he’s never with you?” I said, ”don’t tell me he’s never with me”, I said, ”you think I get out of the bed in the morning? No no no, I wait for him to get into the bed”.
AN: I miss dad.
FN: Don’t even start that, I’ll start tearing. I’ve never looked for anybody else. I never looked for another partner, I said, ”no way”. I had mine, we had a good life together. Sure there were times when we argued and whatever, absolutely, a regular life, but it was a good life.