Martin: Rachel tells the most of this story, but I add a personal note at the end:
Rachel: Saturday morning I woke up with a plan to wash clothes and do some other things before going to Uncle John’s birthday party. We left a little before 2 pm and stopped and bought some Plant City strawberries to share with John and the family, and three mangos to bring back to eat later. We also bought a bouquet of flowers to add to the festivities.
We arrived at Royal Palms Retirement Center and my cousin Denny was waiting at the door for us. We went upstairs and found the small one room residence filled with John and Sally, Ruth, Denny and Mary, his “main squeeze,” as John calls her. Dad and I were glad to see everyone. John did his best to display his usual gruffness while being really happy. Sally was also happy in spite of her dementia and asking many questions over and over. Denny is a year older and Ruth is a year younger than I am.
In October of 2011 Denny’s wife Mary died of cancer. He was with us in March for Mom’s Florida memorial and the marks of grief were in his face and eyes. Now he is in a new relationship, he’s happy and that shows. It was so good to be with my two Lehman cousins. We all agreed that we wished Conrad were also with us.
We visited awhile and then went out to Fisherman’s village for an early seafood dinner. I ordered similarly to most others at the table—broiled sea scallops! Delish!!! There was a small band singing fifties and sixties music pretty loud so we couldn’t do much talking but John was happy. Ruth had brought small cheese cake slices of various kinds in a small round cake shape with “93” in candles on the top for him to blow out. Perfect!We went back then and took a few photos before Ruth, Dad and I headed back to Sarasota. It was so good to sit and chat with Ruth over tea before bed!
Martin: Ruth told us that when she was alone with her Dad she asked him if he was happy with his birthday party. He said he was so happy he could cry. When I said goodbye to him I leaned over to kiss him and said “I love you.” He smiled broadly and responded, “I love you.” I thought it was a secret between us, but both Rachel and Ruth said that they saw and heard.