Remembering A Man And A Marriage

Oct 6, 2011
Originally published on October 7, 2011 3:52 pm

Thomas Morris worked for nearly 30 years at the Brentwood Post Office in Washington, D.C.

"When he would get off work, he would get home in the early morning and we would go out to eat breakfast at 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning," his wife, Mary, says.

The couple married on May 1, 1991, within 90 days of meeting each other at his father's funeral. Mary says she was impressed by how well he had looked after his mother.

"And you know if a man treats his mother right, he's going to treat his wife right," she explains during a visit to StoryCorps in Beach Park, Ill.

At one point back in 2001, Mary says, Thomas said he wasn't feeling well.

"We went to the doctor and the doctor said it sounded like flu symptoms," she says. "And one morning Thomas woke me up and said that something was really wrong. So he placed the call to 911, and they took him to the hospital. I expected him to come back home, but that wasn't to be the case."

Thomas Morris, 55, was one of two postal service workers to die in October 2001 after coming in contact with a letter laced with anthrax bacteria.

"After he passed, I was living by myself again, and Thomas' voice was on our answering machine," Mary recalls. "I don't know how, but I erased it, and I thought, I will never ever hear his voice again. But that would always have left me expecting something to happen that was never gonna happen. When someone passes you think that they are going to show up [at] the dinner table. It takes a while to get used to the fact that it's no more.

"I miss him, but then I think that with all those people going in and out of the Brentwood Post Office, only two died," she says. "That was nothing but the grace of God."

The Morrises were married for 10 years.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host: Time now for StoryCorps. It was 10 years ago that the anthrax attacks that came after 9/11 claimed the lives of two U.S. postal workers. Today, memories of one of them: Thomas Morris died within a week of being exposed to anthrax. His widow, Mary, came to StoryCorps and spoke of how she first took notice of her future husband at a family funeral.

MARY MORRIS: He stayed longer than he needed, to look after his mother. And you know, if a man treats his mother right, he's going to treat his wife right. So we were married within 90 days. Thomas worked more than 20 years at the Brentwood Post Office in Washington, D.C.

When he would get off work, he would get home in the early morning and we would go out to eat breakfast at 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning.

I remember at some point, he said he wasn't feeling well. We went to the doctor and the doctor said it sounded like flu-symptoms. And one morning, Thomas woke me up and said that something was really wrong. So he placed the call to 911, and they took him to the hospital. I expected him to come back home, but that wasn't to be the case.

After he passed, I was living by myself again, and Thomas's voice was on our answering machine. I don't know how, but I erased it, and I thought, I will never ever hear his voice again. But that would always have left me expecting something to happen that was never going happen. When someone passes, you think that they are going to show up for the dinner table. It takes a while to get used to the fact that it's no more.

I miss him, but then I think that, with all those people going in and out of the Brentwood Post Office, only two died. That was nothing but the grace of God.

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MONTAGNE: That's Mary Morris, the widow of Thomas Morris at StoryCorps in Beach Park, Illinois. Her interview will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. You can get the Podcast at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.