85. Cops and Robbers

85. Cops and Robbers

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


Cops and Robbers

The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you.

~Kendall Hailey

I was married at eighteen to my high school sweetheart. I came from a very traditional but somewhat colorful family. My father was a director for television and my mother had worked in pictures during my younger years.

The boy I married was from a somewhat different background. His mother was attractive and fun. She had also been married five times, twice to the same man. Three of my husband’s uncles were police officers and he had a cousin who was a firefighter.

My father-in-law’s family was quite different. His father had been a bootlegger as a young man and even did some time in prison. His uncle was a well-connected fence for the mob. His uncle’s son was an enforcer for the head of the largest mob on the West Coast.

As a young sheltered bride I had no idea what any of this was about. I just knew that both sides of the family were kind and lots of fun.

We had a sudden death in the family. My husband’s sister died and the entire family was brought to their knees. I knew that I was the only one who could handle the details of a funeral and reception back at our home.

I made all the plans and telephoned every member of the family… every member. I let my husband know that there was nothing to worry about. I had handled everything.

The funeral was a beautiful tribute to my special sister-in-law. We received hugs and condolences from both sides of our families and returned to our home for the reception. My friends had helped set everything up, as I knew we would be the last to arrive.

We walked into the house to a visual I had never anticipated. A house divided! The “Cops” were in the living room and the “Robbers” were in the den. They had never been together before! When I realized what I had done all I could do was laugh!

I later heard a wonderful story from the wife of one of our police officer uncles. She told me that after the funeral, the two sides of my husband’s family became friendlier, and my bootlegger father-in-law would take his police officer brothers-in-law and their wives out to dinner and pick up the tab. My father-in-law was a very generous man, not only in his heyday, but in the lean years to come. As they all grew older and our uncle became more successful (he was a Captain with the Los Angeles Police department), he told his wife how wonderful his sister’s husband had always been to the family. He vowed that never again would my father-in-law be allowed to pay a bill in his presence. The “cops” and “robbers” may have all had very separate careers, but they all had a very strong respect for each other and they were indeed family.

~Kristine Byron

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