The Office

When people learned that we worked together, they asked if that was too much. Living together, recreating together, and working together – did we ever get sick of each other? I’d usually try to play it cool so it wasn’t abundantly clear that I couldn’t get enough of my husband.

But I couldn’t.

I loved working with him and even after we were married, I’d hold my breath hoping it was him when I’d hear footsteps approaching my cube. I could recognize the sound of his walk. Always with a pace to it. A purpose. A confidence.

He was so busy in every aspect of his life, yet he never was too busy for me.  Working with him for so many years, I knew the output that he had to maintain.  He was required to produce at such a high level, and he was able to do so despite all the demands for his attention.

Still, when I would step into his office, he’d grin, tell me to sit down, then excitedly present me with a piece of chocolate.

What can I say, he knew the way to my heart.

He acted like he had all the time in the world.  He’d ask me how my day was going and how my work was shaping up, regardless of the insanity of his day and his work.

When I’d call him at his desk, he’d answer in his, “Mr. Squishy Voice” (impossible to describe, so I won’t, but it was hilarious), pretending to be Mr. Dempsey’s secretary.

He would intentionally stutter and stumble over his words – as Mr. Squishy was a nervous person – and then say, “please hold for Mr. Dempsey.” He’d imitate Muzak as he’d hum, “The Girl from Impanema” and then make several popping/clicking sounds before he switched to his regular voice as Mr. Dempsey.

I’d stifle my laughter so my coworkers wouldn’t hear me over the cube wall – especially when we were just beginning to date – but I wasn’t fooling anyone. They all knew I was talking to him.

This never got old. I loved his Mr. Squishy voice and after we had Eleanor, I told him how endlessly entertained she would be by it when she got older.

When he did it for the last time a week or so before the accident, I thought (as I always did) how marvelous he doesn’t care if his coworkers hear him. He was unapologetically enthusiastic and childlike.

When I’d see him in the hall, even after we were married, my heart would skip a beat. How could it not when he’d light up too and flash me that Cheshire cat grin he was famous for?

He’d usually say something inappropriate, especially if there was a new employee nearby who didn’t know we were married. He loved hugging me, a little too tightly, while saying, “Ted Dempsey, welcome to the company.” He knew I’d play the straight man and explain to the newbie, he’s not a creep – really – he’s my husband.

Ted loved awkward.

But he also loved me. Fiercely, deeply, and truly. Ted loved me and honored me in a way that so few ever get to ever experience.

He delighted in me and I in him.

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