Friday, February 5th, 2021
A Jewish toast and an Irish blessing… for my cousin who passed away last evening. The toast, if you are not familiar, means, “To Life!” The blessing, of course, is self explanatory. My cousin would have appreciated both, I think. She led an interesting, uninhibited life. From a young age she seemed to delight in breaking rules. She wasn’t one to compromise herself. She lived her own way —- even if it wasn’t popular with others, and was willing to accept the consequences. She was the first person whom I knew personally that when she wanted a child, but not a husband, she had one:James, her precious son. She said she made mistakes …who doesn’t? But she told me she had few regrets…she had done all the things she wanted and she’d had a great time!
As a youngster, she and my other cousins lived down the block. She went to Catholic school, we went to public. She went away to boarding school and I didn’t. She would come home weekends and teach me a new dance or show me how to iron my hair or set it on orange juice cans so I wouldn’t be quite so nerdy. She was COOL. Then we grew up and had our lives. I was teaching, she was teaching, too …in Paris or Athens!… still so cool!!
Twenty two years ago I retired. She was, too, and living in my best friend’s neighborhood. We saw and called each other more often. We became friends, not just cousins. Her life circumstances changed considerably over the last few years. She had a lot less of everything. But she would do without certain things to enjoy the things she truly loved. She loved to read. She always had a book list, kept up with current events, could converse on almost any subject…And always had lots of stories.
I am going to miss her. I no longer imbibe, so I won’t be toasting her with a glass of dry, white French wine, but every time I bite into a flaky, buttery croissant or treat myself to some fancy cheese, I will think of her. She did not apologize for her life. She accepted herself for who she was, “ Warts and all!” She did the best she could. I think she found peace.