Within every family there are those who are the foundation. In the Moreau and Broadmeadow families, Theresa (Broadmeadow) and Ray Moreau—to paraphrase from another story—were the rock upon which the family was built.
They were both born in 1928—although Ray is much younger because Theresa robbed the cradle— and have been married for seventy-one years. Think about that for a moment…seventy-one years. Some people don’t live that long, let alone stay married to the same person.
But in their case, there was never any doubt it would turn out this way.
The Broadmeadow clan—Edward, Catherine (Szpila), Theresa, Rosemond (Alves), and Joe (my father and namesake)— were a prolific bunch with a plethora of off-spring. There were myriad cousins of all age levels. Whenever there was a holiday, special occasion, or just a nice afternoon, we always seemed to find our way to Bellmore Dr. in Pawtucket or Redgate Rd. in Cumberland once the Moreaus moved there.
Christmas was almost always at the Moreau’s. There’d be someone dressed as Santa handing out gifts for everyone.
Every year we would also have a family picnic. I recall one incident which reflects the sense of humor Theresa embraced. This particular year the party was at our house on Harriet Lane in Cumberland.
My father and I were getting things ready in the backyard just as Theresa and Ray arrived. As we were walking out to meet them, my father sunk knee deep into the apparently overfilled septic system. He struggled to extract himself, with me doing what I could to help—which wasn’t much.
Theresa happened to walk around the corner at that exact moment. I could see by the look in her eyes she recognized the seriousness of the situation and ran back toward the front of the house, I assumed to get Ray and my cousins, Bobby and Dave, to help.
Which she did.
But before she actually let them help, she whipped out her camera and took a bunch of pictures. She was laughing the entire time we hosed my father off.
But it was during those difficult moments every family experiences that the true nature of Theresa and Ray shone through. Whatever the issue, health matters, divorce, unplanned pregnancies, death, they were there as a source of support and comfort.
They shared their own difficulties, surviving the passing of their two boys, Bobby and Dave. Yet even in their sons too short lives, they were remarkable parents and took much pride in their boys. And they experienced the joys of becoming grandparents.
Yet it is their enduring relationship of more than seven decades that is the most awe inspiring.
Back in the 60s and 70s cars came standard with front bench seats. Girls would often sit in the middle seat, near their boyfriend driver, as a sort of symbol of young love.
We all did it when we got that magic driver’s license.
So did Theresa and Ray. They only stopped when they bought a car that didn’t have a front bench seat.
Even the bizarre tradition of the padiddle (perhaps it was a local Cumberland or Rhode Island custom of unknown origin) of the two front seat lovebirds, close together on the bench seat, kissing each other when a car with one headlight out approached.
Theresa and Ray did that as well.
Words are incapable of showing the enduring love of Ray and Theresa Moreau. Seventy-one years ago they promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. And they kept every word.
Now that they are in the twilight of their days, these images say it all.
We could all learn a lesson from these two special people. With people like Theresa and Ray Moreau gracing this planet, there is hope for humanity.