« Modern Love

A Lifetime of Good Loving

2020-12-02 | 🔗

When Bette met her husband, he was leaning against a wall at a party. He had, as she put it, “smoldering looks and banked fires.” He was from Brooklyn; she was from the Bronx. She assumed his silent “bad boy” vibe meant “dangerous love and dramatic heartbreak.”

They got married, and she realized that she’d misread his quiet demeanor: “His eyes were simply beautiful, and his silence wasn’t fierce; he just didn’t have anything to say at the moment.”

After 56 years together, Bette’s husband passed away on the eve of the pandemic. Bette, now alone, shares what had kept them together all these years, and what their long love means to her now.

Featured stories:

  • “Widow Walks Into Wall, Finds Hope,” Bette Ann Moskowitz
  • “Seeing Her in Me,” Alicia Gabe

Bette's story was recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publishers like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.

You can find more information on today's episode here.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Before the work messages begin to pour in. Let's give ourselves a good morning a good morning as a moment to pause and ease into the day. It's a moment to run and chase the sunrise or it's gently settle into your route. In a good morning, is a moment to be present to find clarity and be grounded for the day ahead. Good days start with good mornings and good mornings start with Yogi Tea Yogi tea tease me to do more than just taste good. Hi, how you doing Alicia Alicia, Alicia keys Alicia it you Ah, yes, whenever you're ready, ok, My hands match yours from thirty years, sorry for your loss as if you're lost
dark by nature- lie in the lines that are around my mouth, thereby laughter Cry eyes to quell. I knees I set it to about Patsy strangers. but never about you I find you in my deep set eyes and cheekbones below my hands match where's from thirty years ago. I see you in my summer tan dark by June July in the lines that are around my mouth. If I Is it about tat phrase, I'm sorry, fair lost that really I haven't lost you mom back. It ever be Europe everywhere? Most of all, in knee I was really beautiful in here Wendy
mom passed away. I June 22nd of twenty nineteen Was it about that phrase? I'm sorry for your loss that really just kind of struck you. I guess I everyone was saying it's me and I over the course of a year she was sick. I was more and more I don't know pieces of her in me and just in my life you'll, I felt like she was less lost than she had than been in a way. This was part of a larger poem the original poem I wrote it very soon after she passed and then the next verse said you'll be prayer. and my parenting, when I have little ones to raise love I'll, from you will comfort them on their bad days. They'll hear you on proverbs. I recited
why is vinegar, honey and you'll be the source for the belief that time is more valuable than money. Hmm, thank you. So much kind of getting you to buy by say she. Now the today I was rushing out. Into Wall finds Hope published in April two thousand and twenty, this was before the pandemic. But after the funeral, what are the chances that becoming widowed on the eve of a pandemic and practising self isolation?. The wall must have moved into the doorway when I wasn't looking and I walked straight into it. As I was rushing out of the kitchen. I just
my thumb on the oven rack, while pulling out a casserole having forgotten it was hot. This was before the pandemic, but after the funeral, what are the chances that becoming widowed on the eve of the pandemic and practicing self isolate in grief, will give me some perspective on life and death or Jack spread and his wife. He couldn't eat the fat along the rib. While I devoured it here. Dinners without him are terrible, the worst time to heat a casserole, touch hot oven. Racks know practically speaking, word casserole, vented for giving to widows to heat. Does their solitary dinners he and I didn't eat casseroles. We preferred steak, some fish, a chicken his head. We loved our lamb chops, like Jack Sprat and his wife. He couldn't eat
fat along the rib. While I devoured. It he didn't like the marrow and Osso Buco, either how lucky to Someone who left all the good bits for me to I ever asked while he was alive when we met he was leaning against the wall. At a party dog browse dog dies inclined to the girl. Next to him, he looked like just the kind of bad boy. I was partial to false bouldering, looks and backfires and I was a little drunk, so I went over there Breathing I could get my hands on If I ask you for your answer to dance. I asked the girl she shrugged he's not mine. She said Gopher, he was in Brooklyn
back in town from the army from in Korea on our first date, he smelled like camphor balls and a moth, flew out of his jacket pocket. I was a Bronx girl with literary pretensions and I read everything get my hands on good and head high and low about love. I wrote poems and fantasize endlessly about those. picked strong brooding men like Heathcliff, Mr Rochester or Butler, but I found out that his This is an. There was piercing eyes that food me to think that dangerous aloud and romantic heartbreak one He was at all his eyes, simply beautiful and his silence wasn't fears they just
didn't have anything to say at the moment. He wasn't. Cat boy. He was a quiet man, yet his kisses did taste like vanilla and I began to feel that the unspoken could be. Adam visions. While he only had exigencies to make a living to support me, he would have said, since we were the post war generation when husbands took care of their wives and the wives were grateful by had nothing in common. We didn't know how to argue. I made noise, he stayed silent. We didn't seem to want the same kind of life. I was a show off. He kept a the profile I had ambitions. While he only had exigencies to make a living to support me, he would have said
since we were the post war generation when husbands took care of their wives and the wives were grateful the time I knew the phrase passive aggressive and he knew pretentiousness when he saw it. We had two children in the seventies, no fault worse. The sexual revolution and feminism were in the news and marriage. Breakups were com. if not rampant. He was still we're going to make a living selling medical equipment I was writing and working in a bookstore with Doris, Lessing Gloria Steinem Betty Friedan Simone war and company? I thought about life without him. thought about redecorating my life with brighter colors, a more adventurous style.
another man one with perhaps more with more words the night. He we made our way through the eighties. He started his own business and we felt the pressures of ad and of raising two teenagers, but by then I had developed a taste for there were certain things I had come to value and was not willing to give up. He was a great friend, a great father, published. I worried that it would disturb the equilibrium of one who needed helping, so we made our way through the I he started his own business and we felt the pressures of that and of raising two teenagers. But by then I had developed a taste for quietude and he discovered he could make me laugh when it looked as though my first book would be published,
I worried that it would disturb the equilibrium of our union, for his ego be able to take it. What would it do to us? I think I would have backed off, but he said not to be afraid. His Go didn't work that way. He said he might not read what I wrote, but he knew it was good. He was behind me all the way. life was sweet and the 90s I was teaching and there was room in our life for me to write. I find my way as a writer. My second book was published, He joined a medical supply company that sent him all over the world. We had some money, nice car. Sometimes he took me with him. Sometimes he brought home gifts and store
He knew how I love stories and he brought me stories On Sunday mornings, when he was home from early March through October, put outside on our little city patio and read the newspaper and have our coffee a neighbor. Once said, it gave her pleasure to see us there quiet in harmony together in two thousand, he retired from his position. director of international sales- and I left my teaching job at the city university and settled in Woodstock and our vacation house had a heart attack, he would say come here. Let me show you what I'm doing, but I didn't want to see knowing he was preparing me when I might have to do
him. Our children and grandchildren came to visit. We got a dog So we would walk more. I PETE in the morning, and he walked in. afternoon I cooked things got most of the driving and paid the bills. once in a while. After he had a heart attack, he would say come here. Let me show you what I'm doing, but I didn't want to see knowing he was, Such as collecting the weeks trash and hauling the big cans down to the end of the road- and I had led him- show me where the water shut off love was in the garage, but I hadn't. Let him teach me to pay bills, Three months ago I began bringing him his coffee in bed then down and we knew it
driving him to and from doctors. I also took over doing some of the other things such as collecting the week's trash and hauling the big cans down to the end of the road, and I had let her show me where the water shut off valve was in the garage, but I hadn't. Let him teach me to pay bills, so he kept doing those breathing with effort. For me, when he closed his eyes in the middle of the conversation and fell asleep, I didn't wake him. I waited for him. We kept up what we could talk about it. He had learned to say some things and I had learned not to talk so much when he felt a pain or a twinge. but I would see it in his face and say what he would say. Nothing for me
when he closed his eyes in the middle of the conversation and fell asleep. I didn't wake him. I waited for him. We kept up what we could didn't have the breath to walk the dog anymore, but we drove to the market and while I went in and shopped he stood outside this PETE, he wasn't very hungry, but we kept our dinner hour. We had a cocktail well, whether it was tomato juice or beer or if he felt like it, a small scotch. We clinked our glasses and talked about the past and laughed and held hands and talked about the future. and how we were going to get ourselves to a beach as soon as he felt better. We said our wish would be to end together just like this, but it taken us fifty six years,
in fact, the ordinary, in this extraordinary marriage, he died just short of his eighty fifth birthday and a month for the pandemic. That has landed me in the house alone, having kitchen accidents and walking into walls. The pandemic distract me, so I sit alone unable to be with my children. But I'm not thinking I would rather die than live without him. Instead, I'm thinking after all that life, I hope I don't die. I want to see what comes next. And I believe that is what a lifetime of good luck
I love felling, my boyfriend and I often play following me together by together, I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating
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While living in Woodstock yeah, I'm still up here in the trees, I'm here with PETE, my dog are nice and I've been alone since the pandemic hit wow and have you been faring well, the pen, how, in what way, does all that good, loving help? Now and I kept thinking it's like padding- is and in an odd way, it's like a cocoon. I mean every once in a while, the reality will pierce my my thinking and I'll think well when old or everybody else will go back to their normal lives and then I will have to reckon with the fact that, and he still gone now and and I don't know how how that will affect me
I do know that I I lived in the house with his presence and with his absence, both yeah yeah and so far I have been able to manage in that way. Listen. I have my good days and bad days. We all do, of course, but I think in I feel a presence in the kitchen, certainly when I'm cooking, because I caught for so many years, we had the same taste yeah, we both loved. I stress that we both know castles good padding. So when you fall on your ass, you don't bounce too. What do you mean by Pat the good life is pattern cooking for both of us. Even when I was cooking for the two of us, I was always cooking for four or sick instead, he had in me and that I in him and Finnish, the ways that besides,
created, all sorts of good and bad things in our life. Together Like padding for now- and I think all I can do this- like we've- we've done so much- I can do this. I can do this. I like that idea. A lot of his love is padding and as a means of support You know even now answer I always got the when you about living in the house with his absence and his presence. How do you feel his presence, I feel, is presence in the kitchen. Certainly when I'm cooking. because I cooked for so many years we had the same taste, we both loved oysters and we both know casseroles
just and it was his job to sort of finish the leftovers with. I don't love leftovers, so I feel his presence, I feel at a dinner time. You know the things that we just did together. Sometimes I you know I still. If I'm watching jeopardy- and I get an answer- I always got the answers. He never did. He was always sitting to the right of me, I still I'll turn to the right and say ah yeah, New York or San Francisco. I sometimes I feel as though he's sort of nodding and of course I do feel his presence at night. I sleep on the same side of the bed yeah and he slept on the other side of the bed and square swear PETE the dog sleeps. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and near
is snoring- that dog snores that's great yeah, so yeah. Those are some of the ways that I do feel his presence and do you think your routine has changed a lot? It's hard. You know we I mean you live with somebody for fifty six years. If you go to last you're going to dovetail into one another's habits and likes and dislikes as we did, and so what with the things we always did together, whisper separate. We if we went shopping, for instance, we would should we get it now, while I dunno I'm not sure, ready as I'm, so we would sort of Aiden
at one another her it's a courteous and perseverance and unfading that I feel a new freedom in saying no, I work or yes when you pumps gas for the first time, which is still incredible to me that you never pumped gas before what was that leg? Oh, why feminism, nothing compared to the women. My daughter said I you know I I felt like I was gonna, be one of those people who looked forget to putting a hack and drive away
and yet I lived a life in which I accepted that some work was women's work and some work was the man's job. He manned a screwdriver, and now, if I have to screw something in, I pick up the screwdriver I'd have a pump gas before. Never never that staggering. I know that's wild as a matter of fact, pumping gas was a big issue. We would drive up to the gas station and he'd say you get you do it and I'd say no, no, no I'll! Do it next time you do it. I I don't. I oughta learn to this and I just didn't so when you pumped gas for the first time
Is it still incredible to me that she never pumped gas before what was that lake? Oh, I got all flustered and nervous at night. You know I I felt like I was going to be one of those people who, what's the to put it back and drive away with the attached to it or something I was just a wreck, I still don't like it and it smells bad yeah, but then I thought
whoa. Yes, I felt so strong. I was so happy about that afterward. So it's been six months and what do you think has surprised you the most in this time? You never know. I mean there are things that that you think are going to be awful, that really weren't like disposing of his clothing. On the other hand, I went to a farmers market during the summer that we used to go to together, and I thought everybody there was a couple and everybody was for separating together. Should we get it now? Let's not, and I came home and I cried for days So you never know, what's going to hit you yeah, I mean, I think of you: don't have a sense of humor in this life man you are challenged. Even now. I laugh, I don't know if you know
thing about the jewish ritual of your candles they called. You like them on the anniversary of a death or something like that, and but I bought a bunch of them and I just like them whenever I'm feeling the mood come on and lay yeah. I've been deciding that what I'm going to do is light one around cocktail hour. the my glass, so the is hope for I lighted I take a slug of my drink and say he has to you and then I lied it, but it just struck me so funny. Thank you so much buddy. I really appreciate, you're very welcome. May I enjoyed it. It was fun. Modern love is produced by Kelly Prime and HANS Buetow and edited by Sir,
Harrison and Wendy Door Music by Dan Powell it's essay was written by Betty and Moskowitz and read by Suzanne Toren. Our tiny love story was written and read by Alicia gave special thanks. Julia Simon, nor a color making such a bloody, Laura came funny worth I'm honest, remain SAM, don't neck Corsica, and also to ride Wagner and Kelly Rogers at autumn. To exert The producer of New York Times Audio is LISA Tobin. I merely to engines, see you next week The.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.