RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
On this Friday, it's time for StoryCorps. Today, a conversation between two women who loved the same man at very different times in his life. Lisa Garzone married John Joyce 20 years ago, but their marriage ended badly. He ended up living on the streets and years later met Megan Smith. John Joyce died last year. Lisa and Megan recently sat down to talk about him and the relationship they've developed since his death.
MEGAN SMITH: Who was John to you?
LISA GARZONE: He was the father of my four children, and at one point, my best friend. But John became alcoholic, and things got volatile so I had to have him leave. And he stopped showing up for visits. I tried to follow where he was, and I knew that he was homeless, that just always worried me. I didn't want him to die on the streets.
SMITH: I met John when he was homeless and you guys hadn't been in contact for a bit of time.
GARZONE: It had been 11 or 12 years.
SMITH: But it was a different place and time in his life. He was sober, and about that time he got an apartment. But then, he found out that he had cancer. And I met you the day before John died. The reason I didn't reach out to you sooner was because John didn't want to do more harm.
GARZONE: I was scared to meet you 'cause I didn't know what to expect, and I can remember just looking at him and having great sadness. And I kissed him on the forehead, told him that I loved him, and I whispered in his ear that I forgave him. After that, it was all about you, not John, because you were losing the man that you loved.
SMITH: We had a memorial service and you invited me to sit with you and the children. It was hard, I'm sure, to hear everyone speak positive when you knew another component. But when we got up at the end of the service, your daughter reached out and locked elbows with me.
GARZONE: Yes, she did.
SMITH: And we walked out of the church arm and arm. And then, I forget which of us reached to the other one, that said, you know, we should get together soon.
GARZONE: We went out to dinner.
SMITH: Then we sat in the car and talked for, like, another three hours or something.
GARZONE: Yeah. It was pouring rain out. We got out of the car so I could have a cigarette, and then in the pouring rain, we just hugged. And I just said, I hope that you'll be a part of our lives. And you have been ever since.
MONTAGNE: That's Lisa Garzone and Megan Smith in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Their conversation will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. Get the StoryCorps podcast at NPR.org.