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Love And Its Varied Expressions: The Story of Ben

The Story of Ben was updated on 8.15.21

Love And Its Varied Expressions: The Story of Ben

Do you go out of your way to show your significant other you care? Do you demonstrate how much you appreciate your love? And do you celebrate good things when they happen? Are you supportive when things are going right? Do you show appreciation every day by doing little things? If you apply this great saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” then you are a person who knows how to celebrate your relationships.

There are so many types of love. Long-lasting love for a mate, motherly love for one’s child, universal love of country, wholesome love for girlfriends, material love for one’s possessions, self-love, and May and December love…

Persian Pool at Garfield Park Conservatory by gardeninacity

The Pond, The Koi, and Ben

Fast forward a few days ago I visited the Garfield Park Conservatory. I had been looking forward to this outing for over a month because I wanted to see a permanent glass exhibit by the famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly (called Persian Pool), as well as spending an afternoon in the huge conservatory that had magnificent vegetation from around the world. I had no idea the Chihuly exhibit would be floating in a kidney-shaped pond with Koi fish dancing in rhythm. The pond was framed by stunning vegetation. I sat down on the wood bench in front of the small pond to admire Chihuly’s work. Out of nowhere, my mind drifted back to loving and sad memories of my past life in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In those memories several years ago, I was in the ‘spring’ of my life when I met a man named Ben, who was in the ‘winter’ of his life.

The pond I sat staring at reminded me of the pond and Koi fish I looked down on from my 4th-floor lani. The scene also reminded me of Ben because he lived in the same building and played an important role in my life.

This is the story of Ben…

Different Expressions of Love

I have deeply loved four men in my life, my father, two husbands, and a man named Ben. As I look back on his life, I believe Ben’s greatest joys were his books, his dog, and me.

Our family had just moved to Honolulu. Wanting to meet people, my husband and I decided to attend a large charity affair. Who did I meet? A man named Ben. His impact on my life rests in the depth of my soul and my heart knows our meeting was not an accident.

He was tall, lean, and grey-bearded. His speech was clipped with an air of authority. When people mentioned his name, it was always accompanied by, “Did you hear what Ben had to say lately?” He was a maverick. His gait had a purpose. Ben oozed with drive. He looked like the Russian czar, Lenin. He had been a labor attorney in Washington. His brilliant mind was his strength. He was not held hostage by conventions. He lived his life as he saw fit; never succumbing to the pressure of others. Ben was his own man. That was his essence. And that was a great lesson he taught me.

He moved to Honolulu because of his wife Esther’s health. He had no children. Ben was a law professor at the University of Hawaii until he opened his own private labor law practice. He was an avid reader, an exercise buff, he was a man for all seasons.

During cocktail hour at the affair, we happened to be standing next to one another.

The Conversation That Started It All

Ben uttered, “I have not seen you before.”

“My family and I just moved to Honolulu,” I said.

“Where are you living?”

“On Kahala Ave.”

“I live on the same street and walk past your home every day. I do a four-mile walk to stay  fit.”

“Oh, I have just started walking  in the last few weeks.”

“Would you like to walk together?” he asked.

“I would.”

“Meet you tomorrow in front of your home at 6:00 a.m.?”

And that was the beginning of a deep love. I forgot to mention–I was in my thirties. Ben was in his sixties.

For the next ten years, Ben and I walked every day unless one of us happened to be off of the island. Ben was my teacher and my advisor. He made me laugh and think and he exposed my mind to important issues. Our family became Ben’s family. We all loved Ben. And Ben loved us.

As The Years Went By…..

Several years later I had two big emotional shocks: my late husband, Michael, died instantly of a massive heart attack. And Ben told me, “I am in love with you!”

When Michael passed away, Ben never left my side. He handled the estate. He attended to all my family’s needs. And, he advised me.

And then a few months later on our daily walk, Ben turned to me and said, “If Esther passes away, I am going to pursue you! I am in love with you.” I stopped dead in my tracks and looked him in the eye and said, “I love you too but in a different way. If I were older or you were younger, I would never pass by a catch like you, Ben. And I am honored you feel as you do.”  At this time I was 45 and Ben was 76.

Love Has Responsibilities

Esther was sick and passed away and as a result, Ben was alone. At that time I had made the decision to move with my daughters back to Illinois to be close to family. Naturally, I asked Ben to come with us. We would be his family.

Ben said, “No, it is too late in the game. The Chicago weather will be hard on me and my roots are embedded in Honolulu.”

So with that darling, I made up my mind…I would find Ben a wife because I could not bear to leave him alone at his age on the island.

When You Seek, You Will Find

One afternoon, I was standing in a long line at the local drug store. A woman I casually knew was in front of me.

“Hi Frieda,” I said. “How are you?”

“Not great,” she replied.

“What happened?” I asked.

“My husband died a few months ago!”

Well, darling, a light bulb went off! I was intrigued because she would make the perfect wife for “my Ben!” Her husband had been a professor at the University of Hawaii. She had a great personality and was smart. Ben needed someone smart.

“Frieda, I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but would you be interested in going out with Ben?”

“Oh yes,” she said and her face lit up in a huge smile. My face lit up, too, and I felt my little heart go pitter-patter.

Ben and Frieda

I set up their first date. Ben did not want to go. Frieda couldn’t wait; he was a catch. I knew Ben would not be easy to hook. He had to be caught! And, I knew Frieda would persist. Ben didn’t stand a chance.

On our walk a few months later Ben said, “Since I cannot marry you, I will marry Frieda.” We both laughed, hooked our arms together, and continued our walk. I was so happy for a thousand reasons.

They had a black-tie wedding at the Kahala Hilton Hotel, in the same ballroom Ben and I had met eleven years earlier!  “Full circle,” I thought to myself. I had just married my Ultimate Concierge, Sheldon Good, and we flew to Honolulu for their wedding.

For the next several years Ben and I saw each other every year. He and Frieda came to the mainland. Shelly and I flew to Hawaii. Ben and I continued our walks and our talks. As the years went by, his pace became slower. His balance was faltering so we now walked arm and arm. He loved that! So did I.

And then one day, I received a call from a friend telling me Ben was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Frieda had put him in a home. I was devastated. I had to visit “my Ben.” Shelly and I flew to Hawaii. That is love.

My Last Visit With Ben

We walked into his room and he was sitting in a chair. On his food tray were The Wall Street Journal, scattered papers, and a small pile of books. Ben was still trying to be Ben. That was his essence.

The nurse had dressed him in his wedding aloha white shirt, with a maile lei around his neck, prior to our arrival. I rushed up to him and hugged him. There was little recognition. Tears poured down my face.

Then Shelly said, “Ben, it’s Suzi!” Ben replied, “I don’t think I know her but I sure would like to!” I knew deep within him, he knew it was his Suzi. Uncontrollable tears washed my face because I knew this would be our final goodbye. I would not see Ben again. There were no words to describe my feeling of loss. To this day I miss my Ben. However, his lasting gift to me is my loving memories.

If this story resonates with you, please share your thoughts with me in the comments at the bottom of this page. I would love to know more! 

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39 Comments
    1. It was a beautiful time in my life, meeting and knowing ‘my Ben.’ Warmly, Honey

  1. Oh my, I am left with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face after reading this. What a lovely & generous friendship.

    1. It was the best. Tears ran down my face as I reread my words. He had a strong influence on my life. Warmly, Honey

    2. What a beautiful memory and you are an amazing and insightful woman. Thank you for sharing bits of your life with us.

      1. You are so welcome and thank you for the compliment. My pleasure to share my story of Ben. Warmly, Honey

  2. Suzi, This is the most heartwarming story and a real love letter to Ben and how much he meant to you at such a young age. Thank you for sharing. I live in the suburbs of Chicago and so wish you would have lunch with me downtown. It would be so nice to actually get to know you. I too have a blog but it is a totally different niche…”Parenting in the Loop” was started about 11 years ago when I became a grandmother. I realized I did not know what it was like to be a parent in 2008 and was trying to understand so that I could be more helpful to my single parent daughter. If you ever have the inclination for lunch or coffee please reach out. Have a wonderful day.

    1. I read your Madeline story and loved it. You read ‘My Ben story’ and loved it. Let’s have lunch! My ultimate concierge and I are traveling this month; home to Chicago, off to Arizona to see my daughter and family and then to Moscow. I am so excited on all three counts. I am totally free in June. Please email me at susanfgood@gmail.com and we will make a plan. Warmly, Honey

  3. This beautiful story brought tears dripping down my face. You were so fortunate to have each other for those years – Alzheimer’s is a life robbing horrible disease which my mother also had. I met you and Shelly at Il Corso and again at Saks on El Paseo !!

    1. I remember you well!!! How are you? Thank you for your note. So nice to hear from you. I remember your girlfriend, too. Have a lovely summer and keep in touch. Warmly, Honey

  4. I loved reading about Ben. My best friend of many decades has Alzheimer’s; I just flew in from Albuquerque to stay with her for six weeks to give her husband a break. I will treasure those moments. Thanks for sharing!

    1. What a great friend you are to spend six weeks with your friend. I wish I personally knew you. Kindness and love is the true meaning of friendship in time of need. I applaud you for your kindness and love. Warmly, Honey

  5. hHello Honey, I am a very new follower of you. What a beautiful, heartwarming story of your Ben. How long have you and Shelly been married? I think the two of you are just so cute!

    1. Welcome to Honey Good!I am so happy to have you. How did you find me, if I may ask? We were both widowed and have been married for 27 years.Thank you for the compliment. Warmly, Honey

    1. My life with Ben was very touching in so many ways. Friendship, education, giving and so much more. No one except my ultimate conciergege ever loved me more. I am smiling. Thank you for enjoying. Warmly, Honey

  6. I’m sure Ben must be an angel on your shoulder watching over you!🙏 What an amazing journey you both shared. It was meant to be. I once read, that your true legacy is what people closest to you, say about you, even years after your passing. Ben’s legacy is beautiful and will live on forever. I can actually feel in my soul what you both shared. Ben left you the most precious gift, the imprint of his love and friendship in the deepest part of your soul. Happy New Year and many blessings to you and your family!

    1. Thank you for taking your time to write such a beautiful note to me. Every word you wrote is true and he stands out as one of the most important people in my life. Happy New Year in 2020. Warmly, Honey

  7. Your very welcome! Your blog has been very healing to me. I’m so grateful I came across it. You look beautiful in every color, but in black you look like a million bucks!!!

    1. Thank you for the compliment. Send me your address if you want to and I will send you one of my red strings from Jerusalem from the lady at the Wall. Warmly, Honey

    1. It is quite the story. If you had been a little butterfly sitting on my shoulder over the ten years I spent with Ben, you would have been fortunate to know, my Ben. PS. Frieda was always a little jealous oof our relationship!!!! Warmly, Honey

    1. Ben was a very important part of my life. He had attitude! He was his own man. I learned in my late 30’s from Ben never fear taking a stand.Warmly, Honey

  8. Honey,
    Your story reflects your amazing openness to others and the unconditional respect that your husbands had for you!! It is remarkable on many levels that you are able to sustain both relationships without jealousy or resentment! ♥️
    Thank you for sharing such cherished memories!!

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