Last weekend I had the fortunate opportunity to stand in the company of three generations of New Yorkers, some above ground and some below.
As we basked in the sun, convertible top down making our way from Manhattan to Brooklyn to Queens, I saw my history following me with each passing mile.
On the concrete, Brooklyn men took their aggression of the heat, over crowded streets and unemployment to the softballs with a rainbow of colorful dialogue I am not at liberty to repeat in mixed company.
The new trendy area of Bensonhorst was filled with artists, lesbians, gays, musicians, writers and a cowman. Yes a man dressed as a cow preaching about the injustice in the world. If you search through the archives of Facebook, I imagine you will find several pictures of him as many IPhones took in the attraction, free of charge.
After Dad and I met with my Aunt and Uncle, we paid respects to my grandparents in a most honorable way and then drove down Wyona Street in Brooklyn. For many of you that name has no significant meaning. For me, it was a word that is always connected to the youth of my mother. It was her home at birth and now drenched in poverty and crime. Once a thriving neighborhood with dreams of young immigrants is now victim to change.
It still sent a little shiver, as it was the first time I had ever set foot on the road that raised my mother.
Dinner time. Keep in mind for the Senior Citizen population that is 4:00 PM EST. We did one better. We got to the diner at 3:40 PM. As I was surrounded by my passive aggressive, indecisive, food obsessed family, I started to see just why I ran. My Aunt, who of course knew the four people at the table next to us, chatted and chatted and chatted and chatted away back and forth from table to table. Her husband, a well decorated World War II hero who never spoke much about it, sat quietly with his WW II Veteran hat on watching the Yankees game from afar. With all due respect, he has hearing aids in both ears and difficulty hearing. Maybe a benefit given that his wife never stops talking.
MY father, the firm stoic man, just wanted to enjoy a quiet meal. In a neighborhood of Jews and Italians, this meal did not lack food. We started with an entire loaf of marble bread, macaroni salad, beet salad and cole slaw. Just because…Next were salad and soup for the three of them as they ordered “entrees”. I just was content with my veggie wrap and fries but guilt and pressure would soon prevail as the minute my mouth was empty more food was pushed my way.
Couldn’t we talk, I thought…Nope. Eat Eat Eat.
The meal was wonderful except I was too full to eat most of it.
As the meal tapered off, I wanted a group picture. Let’s ask the waitress I thought but one of the women at the next table said “Let Bernie take the picture. He is an expert.”
I did not doubt the expertise of Bernie for even a second except for one minor detail. Bernie was between 85 and 90 years old. As we smiled and what appeared to be the camera facing the ground, I was a bit skeptical but as fate would have it, the pictures did come out on the digital camera.
Finally we argued over who would pay, everyone checked their shoelaces and we departed slowly for the door. Not due to a crowded restaurant, it was as fast as everyone could go.
All and all, it was a great family outing filled with memories, nostalgia and a little reminder of who I am and who I will always be no matter how far a run.
Embrace family and know you will always be your own person, but you carry everything about family inside…always.