The Widow’s Tale

The Widow’s Tale

Normally I avoid highly personal matters for publication. Private lives still count for something. But Facebook has made us all more used to hearing other people’s joys and sorrows. That’s sometimes good, sometimes not so good. What I am telling you today is highly personal but I have Zoey’s permission, and also to use the boys’ real calling names. I’m telling you The Widow’s Tale because it is one of courage and common sense. It may touch you as much as it touched me.

Zoey is my granddaughter, the daughter of my eldest son and his former wife. Zoey is an early 30’s beauty with a striking, confident air. She emigrated to the United States some ten years ago. She started a fashion business with another girl and had considerable success with it. She married Jacob, a lovely Jewish boy and they lived in Brooklyn. They had two sons – Bennie, now aged seven and Judah, aged three.

On 28th August 2019 Jacob, aged 40, died suddenly. The doctors thought it was an asthma attack but later ruled that out. They are still puzzling over what caused this sudden death, certainly some health issues. Zoey was devastated. She found it very difficult to come to terms with it. There had been no warning of illness, no history of such an event in Jacob’s family. Bennie and Judah, too, were overwhelmed by their father’s death. Both very aware of what had happened, Judah still cries daily at the loss of the Big Support in his life. Bennie is a bright, sensitive boy and the tragedy caught him as he was really getting to appreciate the great role his father played for him.

The families rallied round. Jacob’s mother and step-father and Zoey’s sister-in-law were on the spot and helped most generously and thoughtfully. Zoey’s family, in the UK and Singapore, did what they could, too, each helping in their own way. Material matters were coped with and the outpouring of grief let Zoey know how much people were mourning with her. For all that, she remained devastated. She mourned for quite a while. They had been planning to move to Florida and did so. That was where they buried Jacob since many of his family lived there.

Then one day about three months ago I got another email from Zoey. This time it was very encouraging. She said she had two boys to bring up, a business that needed restarting and she must tackle both. She sounded positive, and we were all delighted at her courage and determination. Zoey was about to make her way in the world again, in the brave and fearless way that she had done before. Fashion businesses in New York are no soft option. Everyone cheered Zoey for her renewal.

A week or so ago it was Father’s Day in America. It was a beautiful, early summer’s day. Zoey decided that her boys were not going to forget their father, nor were they to be disillusioned about the fact that he had died. She took Bennie and Judah to Jacob’s grave for a picnic and sent me a sweet photograph of Judah playing with his toys and Bennie giving his father’s headstone a gentle hug. The picture talks of love, understanding and bravery.

It takes real sense to do that, sense and courage. The fact of death is awful but the memories of those who have died are valuable and precious.

I hope nothing as awful as Jacob’s death will happen in your life but there will be loss.

When it hits you, I hope The Widow’s Tale will give you help and consolation.

Bless Zoey, Bennie and Judah.

And, of course, Jacob – always.


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