My circle was at school: I was a fixture at Kokomo High School for 40 years. I cherish the friendships between teachers, and custodians, and administrative assistants, and even some administrators. Some had seen photos of the hub: few would recognize him just walking down the halls.
Then, there were those who knew us both professionally: students’ parents would hire Mike; former students would hire Mike. And, at home I would talk about students, problems I had with them, funny things that had happened in class. Mike never named his clients: clients need to be free to tell their lawyer anything; I certainly did not need to know backstories on my students unless they came to me through school channels.
All too often, some student would say that his mom or dad or uncle had hired my husband and I could be honestly surprised. If comment seemed required, I would say, “I hope he was pleased.” And then I would get either a nod or some version of what an overpaid SOB that lawyer was. I think my favorite was, “It must be nice, just sitting at a desk, with people throwing money at you.”
Rarely did these worlds meet. Rarely but not never: I had one rather dramatic episode where, in a parent conference, an angry father lunged over the desk at me and had to be restrained. (Thank you, large-chested principal who was in attendance.) No, I’m not kidding. Dad claimed that I had lost his son’s project, just like I had lost an older son’s project AND his wife’s project 20 years before.
For the record, when a student fails to turn in an important assignment, the go-to explanation is THE TEACHER LOST IT. As I never took big-point projects out of my room, not ever, and when accused I would scour every corner, I knew I had not done this; I still remain flummoxed that the mom had been doing a slow burn for so many years and had been serving me up at the dinner table. “We warned our kids about you.” Sigh.
That particular, rather nasty encounter had shaken me... overt threats of physical violence will do that...and I took it home. Because the names didn’t match, it took a few minutes for Mike to give me a possible explanation: he had represented a relative who ran out of money and so had paid his fee with his custom, tricked out, very nice motorcycle. He and his attorney had signed an agreement that the fee would be paid within the year. The client had some expectation of finding money to pay the fee and planned to pay but after 2 years and several contacts, Mike sold the bike. His former client and his extended family were not pleased. Somehow, they figured I had something to do with this: those Bolingers just sit at home plotting how to ruin our lives.
And, in our small town, there may have been other classroom problems that connected with Mike’s practice but none come to mind. So, the point is that we had a circle of friends who knew one of us.
But, of course, there were the Mike and Lynne’s friends. Family, of course. Friends at church. Friends in the neighborhoods. And during the last 4 years of our marriage, that group grew. And grew close to us.
And, here’s what’s hard right now, hard for me but something with which I must deal: when I come upon friends who loved Mike as part of Mike and Lynne…..I sense a sadness, perhaps a renewal of grief on their part. I am the reminder of what is now lost.
Among strangers, I’m just that tall lady. But even among school friends who did not know Mike, I’m his widow….
This may be one reason that I’m sad when I revisit the places we shared and see it in the eyes of those who loved him. It’s part of the process, difficult for all of us.
My move to the lake and San Antonio, I have opportunities to make new friends and find new avenues. But I will miss the dear friends of Mike and Lynne as we navigate a new relationship.