I've spent the weekend in Aurora, New York, home of my birth. Well, not actually my birth, because Aurora is but a wee village, with not enough inhabitants to warrant a hospital, but it was the place to which my parents brought me on my triumphant release from Auburn Memorial Hospital, a few days after my birth--a sunny Memorial day back in the late 1960s. A mere 8 days after my mother's due date, but still 1 day early to have the same birthday as my godmother, Chuz. (My mother did not much care about making it to May 28th at that point.The 27th was just fine, thankyouverymuch.)
But still, our birthdays have always been close, just one day apart, and we have always shared that (almost) bond. I can't think of a birthday that has gone by that I have not received a card from Chuz, although guiltily I can remember a time or two I have neglected to get a card posted to her because of my seemingly too busy life.
There is really no excuse.
I don't think she holds it against me though. Nor do I think she harbors any ill feelings about the fact that her beloved husband suffered a heart attack very shortly after he served as pall bearer during my father's hot, humid July funeral.
Oy. What a sad week. Poor Chuz lost her husband, father of her 6 children, plus his best friend who was also a very close friend to her. Me? Well I was a mess about losing my father, and there went my godfather to boot.
Thank god for mothers and godmothers. It's now 23 years later, and both my mother and Chuz are still here for me. It's really not surprising that my mom is alive and well, seeing as she is a healthy woman in but her mid-60s, but Chuz? Chuz is now 91. Ninety one! And she is still as sharp as that summer of 1988. And still looks remarkably the same to me. (Something that she would perhaps not appreciate my saying.) But she does. She looks amazing. And remembers everything, and is as entertaining to talk to as anyone you've ever met. Old or young.
We dropped in on her, unannounced, shortly after 5 pm on Saturday. She looked up and said to us, a bit annoyed, "Well I thought you said you'd call before you came by." My mother quickly retorted with, "Well if we did, you may have told us not to come, so we didn't give you that option." That shut her up right quick, and it was all easy sailing from there. She busily made her old fashion, cutting her orange and adding the sickly sweet maraschino into the highball glass like so many nights before, while I grabbed two light beers from the fridge for me and my mom.
Keystone light may not be my brand of choice, but I would happily drink one every evening if it meant shooting the shit with Chuz. It's priceless.
And the tight, tight squeeze and kiss on the cheek she bestows upon me when we take our leave? It's one-of-a-kind. Because although she has 6 children, and scores of grandchildren, and now many grandchildren as well, I know it is just for me.
Her glory days, back with Jack and Roger (my dad) and the rest of their crew were some of the best of her life -- so much lay ahead, no one had yet gone, as almost everyone of her generation has now done, ready or not.
Somehow I know that she feels that spark when we touch; that I am a living link to that past she still dreams of on a particularly good night.