I’ve always gotten along well with little old ladies. Or maybe it has been that little old ladies have always gotten along well with me. I was the little guy who would stray away from the pack at a carnival, only to be found by sweet old ladies who would hold my hand, buy me ice cream cones, and return me to my family. In my increasingly selective memory, I’d like to believe that it was under the guidance of kind elderly women that I entered this conscious world. Grand matrons were my teachers, my protectors, and my royalty.
My mother was born and raised in a small town in Vermont. Her father (my grandfather) died way too early, when she was less than two years old. My grandmother had three daughters. She also had three sisters and one brother. They all had wonderful names like Elsie, Petrina, Clara, and Axel. My grandmother’s name was Viola- as was my mother’s. Great-Uncle Axel was the only positive male influence in my early childhood. He was a jovial St. Nicholas-type of man who would whisk us up into his arms, put us into the seat of an old black Model T that he fondly called ‘the jalopy’ and took us for a ride up into the woods and fields beyond his house. He drove on roads that more resembled wagon trails rutted with stones and gullies, which made it all the more exciting for his cargo of happy (great) nephews, nieces, and grandchildren. I never knew my true grandfather, nor the husbands of my great-aunts long passed away before I arrived, so Uncle Axel was the only man in the picture. The thing about selective memory is that one can inhance the positivc: he alone was the balance on the male side and the closest experience to a grandfather that I ever had.
I was born in Washington, D.C.- the second to the last of six children. We were there because my father (and I use the term loosely) was a money printer who worked for the government. Between him becoming increasingly more unstable and abusive, and my mother’s belief that the suburbs of D.C. were no place for children to be raised, we were shuffled back and forth to Vermont-often moving several time in a year. How I loved being in the country, and hated it when we weren’t. My father had what they called a ‘nervous breakdown’ when I was a little boy. Of course I didn’t realize anything of what was going on, but the up side of it was that we were looked after by my grandmother and her sister’s, who I lovingly refer to as “The Matriarchy”. These women made possible the happiest of my childhood memories.
As I reflect on this day, it does seem pretty remarkable that I am now at the age of that whole generation a lifetime ago. Thanks to them, it brings great pleasure to remember the fun of life in the 1950’s–the time of Leave It to Beaver’ and ‘Howdy Doody’. I was younger than ‘Wally’ and had all fun and mischief of ‘Clarabelle’. I got to experience Model T’s and outhouses, general stores with wooden floors, penny candy, fat-tired bicycles with trading cards clothes-pinned on the frame to flap between the spokes. We would spend the day walking into town to go to the ’5 & 10’ or barefoot to the pond for a summer’s dip; telephones with party-lines and four digit exchanges; nickle mugs of frosty mugged root beer and eating stalks of rhubarb just picked in Nanny’s garden.
I dedicate this day to that wonderful ancestry, without whom I most certainly would not be here. I dedicate this day to sharing memories, yet staying in and enjoying the moment. I dedicate this day to the hope for all of us to be able to see a cloud with a silver lining for those who care to look for one. I dedicate this moment to the feeling of being loved and happy for as long as it may last.
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(from the boy with the fertile imagination who became the man that tells the tale)
‘Love Changes Everything’
from Aspects of Love
HAPPY BIRTHDAY T. from M. & BODHI DOG!!! XXXOOOO
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As dear brother Lenny pointed out: “How often is it that one’s birthday falls on the weekend—Saturday, at that?” The whole weekend could not have been more perfect. Perhaps it is because we now live full time in an anxious and disturbing world; perhaps it is part of the natural aging process (ask any woman my age), but a kind of sense of mortality pervades. It is not there all the time by any means, but for me over the last couple of years- it’s there often. Why I mention this is just to emphasize the pleasure in being able to escape all of that for a time into pure bliss. That is just one of the gifts made possible by M & Little B this past birthday weekend. It started on Friday early evening with a surprise bottle of Grey Goose vodka . M rarely imbibes, but he prepared a civil cocktail for the two of us to go along with a wonderful brie served over tasty herbed toasts and an assortment of marinated olives. On Friday night, there was a gift on my pillow and one next to my bathroom sink downstairs when I came down in the morning. There was one on the keyboard when I went to use the computer later in the afternoon.
I was banished from the kitchen for most of the day. When it was finally time, I was greeted with a split of Perrior Jouet champagne and several more nicely wrapped small packages on the beautifully set table in the tiled fireplace dining room of this old house. M recreated a meal for me that he had experienced many years ago while traveling through Afghanistan. Roasted lamb which had been marinated in wine and olive oil and herbs and a lot of spearmint from the garden. It was fall-apart tender and served with the most delicious couscous I can ever remember, flavored with rum-soaked raisins, toasted almonds, and slivered shitake mushrooms. Dessert was a creamcheese swirled lemon cake and a tart lemon ice with a glass of sweet mint tea.
For a short while, we escaped into Nirvana. Every taste was savored and every moment precious.
Love does change everything.