His birthday is the day after mine, he's just a day younger than I am. His brother is a year younger, the same age as my sister. We were an interesting foursome when we were children. And then, when he and I were just 11 years old, his father died...
If you asked me who Don is, I would tell you "He's my cousin." but that's not the whole story.
Don's father married my Aunt Eileen in 1966. My sister and I were flower girls at the wedding. Don and his brother did not attend, they were with their mother and her husband. Divorce was much more unusual in those days, and children of divorced parents did not attend the wedding of one of their parents to someone else. In fact, Don and his brother were the only kids I knew whose parents were divorced.
My aunt and uncle would pick up his kids every Sunday, and most of the time they'd head to my parents' house. We'd hang out in the back yard or watch TV in the den. Sometimes we'd go places -- Don vividly remembers going to see "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" with me and my sister.
And then, a week or so after our 11th birthdays, Don's father died of pancreatic cancer. the last time I saw Don and his brother was at Eileen's apartment, while they were sitting shiva.
As an adult, don has sought to reconnect with my aunt, and after she died, with us. He needs to have that connection with his father, with the past. I know I will hear from Don every year around my birthday. He's one person who can't forget the date.
He was in town a couple of weeks ago, and I had lunch with him. It's a unique experience to talk with someone who remembers the same things you do, but from a different perspective.
He told me something that I had completely forgotten.
My father once went to a NY Jets game at Shea Stadium. It was December 1969, a playoff game. the Jets had won the Superbowl the previous January, they had a great team that year as well. My father, my uncle and the boys nearly froze to death in the stands, they drank a gallon of hot chocolate to keep warm. They had a great time, even though the Jets lost the game.
I would never have remembered that my father went to the game. But when Don talked about it, I had a vague memory of being home with my mother and my aunt while the guys were at the game, and not caring a bit about football.
Memories. sweet, sweet memories.
life in and around NYC is insane
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