It’s no secret that Mimi likely remarried in her later years solely for companionship and money. Like most well-raised southern women before her Mimi was taught that money and a good family name were the most important things in life and silly things like love and sex were meant for the faint of heart or those who had nothing better to which to aspire . That being said, it came as no surprise when she married Dick, her second husband. He was a tall, well-dressed man who was nice enough but wasn’t much to look at and harbored the personality of Eyore.
Grandpa Dick was a generous man and always treated me kindly even though unlike Mimi, he hardly wanted to be covered in grandchildren. He gave Mimi, as she says, “the finer things in life.” And allowed her to indulge in her whims of shopping and furnishing his house. However, as the years went by and Dick eventually passed away, Mimi was left to do what she wanted with the various investments and money he left behind. Given her generous nature, much of that went to various family members as either checks or gifts. A good chunk likely paid for my college education. And as we later found out, quite a bit went to a monthly donation to the church. But as with most things, money doesn’t last forever and when I took responsibility for her finances three years ago all that was left was a large amount of credit card debt and her monthly income of just $2,000.
It was around this time that we started hearing stories of Mimi’s new husband. While the man was an actual person she had attended high school with, their marriage was only a figment of her imagination. I had heard of the man, Jim, quite often over the years. He was a small town boy who went on to become a great success, eventually presiding over Capitol Records in California.
The first time she mentioned him she matter-of-factly asked Tony and I what we planned to do with our money. “What money?” we asked.
“Well, you know, the $125,000 my husband is going to give you,” she calmly answered.
At first we thought she was joking. “Well, when did you get married?” I asked.
“Oh, well, about two days ago. Jim asked if I’d marry him and I said yes. He said he’s had a crush on me all these years and I said, ‘well, I think you’re pretty special too.'”
Tony and I exchanged glances, not quite sure what to do or say so I asked where her husband was now. And to this day I’m not quite sure if the story was concocted beforehand or she just thought it up on the spot but without any hesitation she answered, “He’s in the islands on business, down in the Cayman’s or somewhere like that.”
Where she’d heard of the Cayman Islands I have no idea. But I laughed a little and thought, “If you can’t beat ’em, may as well join ’em.” So I went right along with her.
“Well my goodness, he must have lunch with Oprah and all kinds of famous people,” I scoffed.
“Oh yes, he really does. He’s a very important person,” she explained.
And from that day on, every now and again, she’ll slip in some comment about her husband and his money. She even frequently signs her name, Edna, the last name being that of her aforementioned husband. Recently, she received a flyer at my Aunt’s house addressed to her “married” name. We still have no idea how that happened.
It has become a running joke within the family. Tony and I have slowly been cleaning out her house and among the many things, we found a letter from her “husband” and pictures from his retirement party. Tony discovered the letter and began reading, “Dear Edna, I’m sorry we have to keep our marriage a secret.”
“It does not say that, does it?” I asked. He laughed and handed me the letter.
“No but what if it did?” he chuckled.
After their latest visit home, my Aunt learned from Mimi’s few friends who are still living that she has apparently carried a torch for this Jim for years but had never disclosed it to anyone. It was a crush her friends merely suspected. And upon further clearing of long forgotten drawers we’ve discovered letters from Jim. Letters that frequently mention his wife and his sincere thanks to Mimi for keeping him abreast of all the happenings in his old hometown of South Charleston, WV.
I’m glad I never corrected this fantasy although my Aunt frequently argues with Mimi that she is not married. I think it sometimes hurts her feelings knowing Mimi had this crush while probably still married to her father. I, on the other hand, think it’s somewhat sweet and if it’s something that makes her happy and allows her to daydream like a lovesick teenager, then she can think she’s married for as long as she wants. If only she were, then Tony and I’d have a nice, fat $125,000 check sitting in our bank account rather than the couple hundred that’s actually there.