Life goes on for widowed Glencoe dad
After the death of his wife in 2010, Scott Ritchie, left, took his son Michael, right, and his daughter Audrey to some of the same places they visited during Barbara Ritchie's last months, including Hawaii, where this photograph was taken by Audrey, now 12.
Who: Scott Ritchie
Occupation: A partner in a Deerfield accountancy, and he’s a father to two kids, Audrey, 12, and Michael, 11
Updated: July 15, 2012 2:32PM
Scott Ritchie used to work long days, but his life’s different now.
“I make sure I’m home every day after the kids get home from school,” he said.
Ritchie’s a partner in a Deerfield accountancy that specializes in medical clients, so his time is a little flexible.
“I’m able to get some work done at home,” he said.
As he approaches the third Father’s Day since his wife Barbara died of cancer, he’s hired a cleaning service, but not much more to help him run the Glencoe home that he shares with his kids Audrey, 12, and Michael, 11.
His mother, Pat Ritchie, wants him to have a little more of a social life, a little more freedom.
“I think he should hire a nanny, but he doesn’t want to,” Pat Ritchie, of Mount Prospect, said.
“I try to cook maybe two or three times a week, otherwise, we go out or have frozen food,” Scott Ritchie said. “I’m cooking more now. I kind of enjoy it. It’s not a burden.”
His wife’s rare eye cancer had reached her liver by January 2009, and the doctors told them that the end was near. So he and his wife talked about the future, when he would be alone with the kids.
What did she say?
“You should remarry,” he said.
“That’s not going too well. I’m not dating. I wasn’t so good at it before, and I’m no better now.
“There’s so little time, owning my own business. What little time I have left, I want to relax.”
He goes to work, and he takes care of the kids.
“I’m a little more hands-on now, 24-7, there’s no one else going to do it.
“I get all the questions, all the crying, all the shopping and the laundry.”
The laundry is the one part he really dislikes, he said.
Counting the days
Barbara Ritchie was given six months to live in 2009.
So her family made the most of her time, taking several trips together they would never have gone on in a short period.
Barbara Ritchie wound up with 13 quality months, her husband said, before sickening and passing in March, 2010.
“Afterwards, they went to some of the same places,” Pat Ritchie said. She worried that might be too sad for them, but it didn’t turn out that way. Everybody seemed to like the memories.
One of the less exotic trips took them to the vacation home Pat Ritchie and her husband Bill share in the Wisconsin Dells. Nearby, she had planted a tree in her daughter-in-law’s memory.
She asked the kids to pose for a picture alongside it. They hugged the trunk.
The kids and their dad took a few months of therapy in 2009, but didn’t seem to need it, Scott Ritchie said. His mother said that her own husband Bill, however, was shattered by the experience, and she told him to see someone, too.
Bill Ritchie felt better after getting the opinion that as far as the children were concerned, it happened at the right time, if it were to happen at all.
“It’s the perfect age,” Pat Ritchie said. If the kids were older, she said, they’d likely feel guilty for the nasty things adolescents often say to their parents.
“And if they’re too young, they don’t remember.
“The way it is, they just think of wonderful things about their mother.
“And she really was a wonderful mother.”
Scott Ritchie has kept a lot of her things, from the supplies and drawings she used as an interior designer, to her clothes.
“I was glad to see (Audrey) go in my wife’s closet and put on her clothes. They bring back memories.”
His life is quieter, but not too hard to live, he said.
“I’m not afraid of being alone,” he said. “And I’m not sitting at home by myself.
“Tonight, we’re going to a pool party in Lake Forest. It’s really an adult party, but they’re making accommodations, letting me bring the kids.”
The host has children, and Audrey and Mike planned to hang with them.
Last Christmas, Audrey decided that it was about time that the extended family came back to the Glencoe house, and she enlisted grandma to help her put the evening together.
Eighteen people dined off Barbara Ritchie’s china, which the girl insisted on unpacking.
“She actually had on a pair of her mother’s shoes. She had all the table set. She did a great job,” Barbara Ritchie said.
“But I really wish she would have let us use some really good paper plates.”