Posted Tuesday morning, August 23, 2016.
This pair of beachcombers are my in-laws, Joe and Jan Montgomery, known around these parts as Old Father and Old Mother Blonde, on one of their visits to us when we were down on Cape Cod on vacation. The picture was taken at Oyster Pond in Chatham in July of 2001. And, yes, that is how Old Father Blonde dressed for the beach, like he was out to play a round of golf early in the morning in mid-March. One time Navy man though he was, he never cared much for the ocean except as a part of the view. Mother Blonde liked to plunge into the surf just like her daughter and grandsons, but he never went near the water. He loved coming to Cape Cod though. He and Mother Blonde met down there in the 1950s. But it wasn’t just nostalgia that made him love the place. He loved the landscapes and seascapes. He loved taking the family out for ice cream and mini-golf. (Excellent golfer that he was, he always lost at mini-golf to Mother Blonde. Drove him crazy.) He loved the Lobster Claw restaurant in Orleans where he loved the swordfish. He loved just sitting on Uncle Merlin’s porch. But mostly what he loved was watching his grandsons have fun.
You’ve probably guessed where this is going.
Joe died the other day. It was sudden but not really a surprise. He was 84 and had been in failing health. But it was sudden. As Mrs M put it on her Facebook page, after over a decade of fighting his way through various assaults on his body by cancer, stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure, “his mighty heart finally gave out.” And his was a mighty heart. We’ll be celebrating that heart and his life on Saturday, the 27th, at Mother of Divine Providence Church in Mrs M's hometown, King of Prussia, PA. There’ll be calling hours at the church at noon---no wake. Joe wanted a minimum of fuss. That’s the way he was. He didn’t want to put anyone out on his behalf.---followed by a mass at 1 p.m.---which I expect his ghost will grumble through. If you happen to be in the area, you are welcome to join us. It won’t be a sad affair, I promise. Joe was one of those people who tended to put everyone in a cheerful mood and he’ll probably manage to do it somehow again on Saturday.
Mrs M is doing ok, considering. Ken and Oliver are heartbroken but they’re doing their best to be cheerful for their mother’s and grandmother’s sake and for Joe’s because they know he’d have wanted them to. I’m heartbroken too. He was a good man, a good father, a wonderful grandfather, and the best sort of father-in-law anyone could hope for. He made me feel like one of his own from the first time we met.