He’s visited her grave 1,300 times — his ‘payback’ for 72 years of patience and love
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ted Richardson is usually the first visitor to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific after the gates open at 6:30 a.m.
Six days a week, no matter the weather, he is there to visit the grave site of his late wife — Florence.
"I always tell her when I go up there, 'Payback time,'" he said.
Ted uses payback as a term of endearment.
He was 16 and Florence just 14 when they first met in their Pennsylvania town in 1941.
"I was standing in the hall. The classes were changing and I saw a beautiful girl. I went home and told my daddy that night I saw the girl I was going to marry," he said.
After high school, Richardson enlisted in the U.S. Marines and fought through World War II.
He carried Florence's photograph with him everywhere.
"She was beautiful. I didn't mind looking at her all the time," he said with a chuckle.
They married after the war and built a life.
Florence worked for the FBI and Ted became a school teacher. They had one son.
“I never heard her say a bad word,” Ted said.
The couple enjoyed growing old together, and eventually moved to Hawaii in the 1970s. They were married for 72 years, until she passed away five years ago.
“For 72 years she lost her temper only once — in 72 years! And it was my fault,” Ted said.
That's what he means when he calls the visits payback.
They are thank you's with flowers.
"I use mini carnations because when you first put them in they're just buds. Then about three days later they open up," Ted said.
It takes three bus rides for him to travel from his Waikiki apartment to the foot of the cemetery where security staffers drive him up the hill.
"I used to walk up. Then I had to start using a cane," he said.
Since Florence’s burial at Punchbowl, Richardson has visited her grave more than 1,300 times,
"They say, 'How do you keep track?' I have calendars and I mark 'em down every day when I come home," he said.
Ted is 93 years old, with his next birthday coming in January..
"I'll keep going as long as I can go. God will tell me when I've had enough," he said.
And he has planned ahead. He arranged with his church to bring Florence fresh flowers once a month after he dies and is buried beside her.
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