...For five years, the kids and I were Joe's family. He had a son across the country and scattered grandchildren. I was his in-town lifeline. I made phone calls to his son, so Joe could talk. I would write down the answers for Joe to read, and then he'd talk again. It was a three-way conversation, but he looked forward to each Sunday call. My kids and I rescued his old bottle-brush Christmas tree from his attic and decorated it each Christmas.