It took FOF Theresa and me four hours to catch each other up on the last 30 years of our lives. We last saw one another in 1980, when I left Norelco as publicity director to become a writer for the Daily News. Seven years younger, Theresa had been my (very able) assistant until she couldn’t stand working for me anymore and went to work for a colleague at Norelco.
I had forgotten our set-to, but when Theresa refreshed my memory at lunch a few days ago, I again realized what a beaut of a boss I was in my thirties (and forties.) Theresa continued to work for Norelco until the company moved from New York to Connecticut. Although we didn’t stay in touch, some force brought us back together last week.
Theresa and Victor have been married for 31 years and have three grown sons and a daughter, who range in age from 19 to 30. A mighty fine looking family, I’d say.
“I stopped working and devoted myself to being the best mother I could,” Theresa told me. She wanted to give her kids what her mom, Helen, couldn’t give her and her sister: her undivided attention. “My father verbally and emotionally abused my mother. He gave her a tiny allowance while he lavished everything on his girlfriend. Mom worked as a seamstress day and night to raise, clothe and feed us. She was obsessed with providing for us. She’d work on a factory machine in her room and listen to the radio. I had no patience for her then because I wanted her to throw out my father,” Theresa said.
When Theresa was 21, her dad walked out on the family and it was as if “mom had been cured of cancer. She got a great job at Chase, moved into the apartment Victor and I were renting and gave us her dilapidated house to fix up and live in. She blossomed and started enjoying her life.”
Eventually, Helen lived half the week with Theresa and her family and the other half with Theresa’s sister and her family. “No matter how much we begged her, she never indulged herself. She was happiest just being with us. My kids learned so much from her,” Theresa said.
Helen died suddenly, in late 2010, and Theresa is still trying to make peace with the loss.”She was such a good person. She gave us her wisdom, her values and her virtues,” Theresa wrote in her mother’s eulogy.
Theresa and I reminisced about everything from the sexual dalliances of Norelco executives to the time she accidentally squirted Crazy Glue into her face, sealing one eyelid shut. Fortunately, her eye wasn’t damaged. We talked about diets (she lost 18 pounds during the last month on The Dukan Diet); the men in our lives; her rewarding five-year stint working for the rabbi of the temple in her town and my career since leaving Norelco, not to mention Botox, eyelifts and, of course, our kids.
Besides her energy and enthusiasm, work ethic, practicality and great sense of self, Theresa is beautiful, inside and out. I would love to work with her again and have vowed that she will be the first person I’ll hire as soon as I can. She is one of a kind!