|Mimi and David, ca. 1971|
Over the weekend, I attended the memorial for my mother's friend, Mimi. It was a lovely afternoon tinged with sadness. I met (well, I was reminded that she'd met me when I was a baby) Mimi's sister, Linda. What really struck me was how much Linda both looked and sounded like Mimi. It was a comfort to be able to speak with her. Linda said more than once that 'it' wasn't supposed to happen this way. Linda was an only child until the age of eight. Before the baby was due, her parents had told her that if the baby were a boy, then she'd receive a train set. If it were a girl, then she'd get a dolly pram. She'd really wanted the train set.
Her baby sister came home from the hospital wrapped in a pink blanket, cute and tiny as could be. Linda loved her right away. 'She was my baby.' Their mother contracted TB and had to 'go away' for a year. 'Then she really was my baby!' She also said that over that first year relatives would come to meet/visit with the baby and she'd be in charge of everything. It almost sounded as if she had to show she was capable lest another family member try and take baby Mimi away during their mother's prolonged absence. Linda said that she had expected to look after Mimi for the rest of her life. I couldn't help but become emotional listening to her.
Mimi had met her husband, David, through my mother's high school friend, Nan, and Nan's then hubby, my paternal Uncle Gerry. Gerry and David had been friends since high school. Yet that hadn't clued me into to the fact that there were going to be a handful of other 'city kids' (most of whom were 1st and 2nd generation Italian-American) at the memorial who'd grown up knowing my Dad's family. I spoke with one man who'd told me that Uncle Gerry went on camping trips with his family up to Clear Lake every summer for most of their adolescence. Additionally, there were four, retired San Francisco firemen in attendance who had all worked with my Dad's other brother, Ray. It's not so uncommon that these men would have worked together at some point as one tends to move fire houses a lot when first starting out on the job. It is uncommon, however, that an SF firefighter could afford to live in today's San Francisco. Rents, never mind mortgages, are just too darn high.
|Flowers from the memorial.|
One of the firefighters made a comment about how my Uncle Ray had gone from liberal to conservative in the intervening years while making a flip-flop gesture with his hand. I said, 'so, you've been in email contact with him recently, I take it?' Uncle Ray hooked up with a very wealthy widow some years back and now considers himself part of the 1%. Funny, but I don't think his firefighter pension makes him minted.
Another old firefighter mentioned how my Uncle was 'cool' and that he looked up to him. Well, he was tall and attractive in a sort of Robert Redford Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid kinda way, so I could see that. Yet another fireman mentioned how Ray had put him at ease when he was a newbie. A 'crusty old-timer' had chewed this guy out in front of his colleagues and it had made him feel bad. 'He hadn't introduced himself. He hadn't said anything to me at all' before yelling at this man in front of the whole house. Later, my Uncle pulled him aside to simply say, 'consider the source'. He told me that he had been grateful for those words.
In other news, it would appear that Batman is my neighbor.