My brother-in-law, Ron, was a curmudgeon; grumpy, sullen, even downright mean at times.
By blood, he and my husband Bill were cousins. In the 1950s, when Bill was just a child, his mother died unexpectedly, and Ron’s mother took Bill in to live with her and her four children. They were an African-American family living in the midst of a middle-class, predominantly white Connecticut township. Their home, located on a wealthy family’s farmland, had one bedroom, wood heat and no running water. Each day, Ron’s mother walked five miles to and from town, where she did laundry and cleaned houses to support the family.
Bill and Ron were close in age; they considered each other brothers. I met Bill when I was in my forties and he was in his late fifties, so I knew Ron only during the last few years of his life.