Angelina wiped her tears and breathed deeply. Bravely she revealed to the kind lady that death was upon her. Last month and now again she was plagued with blood. Oh, the relief to unburden her soul! To her astonishment, the lady snorted with laughter.
“Tonta,” she said, “you are now a Senorita!”
Angelina laughed heartily barely able to get out the words as she recounted this tale to her granddaughters. They laughed along for although they didn’t quite understand about the birds and the bees they understood her relief. More importantly, they understood her humor alluded to unspeakable adult matters.
I’m of two minds. One mind worries all the time: is it going to rain? does the baby have enough formula? will we find a cure for cancer? Why oh why must all life come to an end? The other seizes the silver lining: forget the umbrella, play with the grandchildren, cherish every moment you spend with your best friend. No room for practicalities: carry an umbrella just in case, buy extra formula just in case, or prepare the right words just in case. Better to wear a smile and laugh more, or face heartbreak than to remain sensibly neutral.
We hit Alexander’s with a vengeance, a mother hen with chicks in tow. Dad had received a refund from the IRS allowing Mom the luxury of buying Easter outfits for our family. It seemed as if everyone in the Bronx had received their income tax refunds for the department store teemed with bargain hunters. My eyes danced at the array of pastels: pinks, mint greens, lemonade yellows. Mom, however, knew exactly what she wanted her girls to wear. The beige and taupe sleeveless dresses with matching coats. White patent leather shoes and matching purses. Her very own mini Jacqueline Kennedys.
When days grow longer, so long that the sun barely sets and water flows again, circulatory systems pump anew and all that was hidden surfaces. Pete emerges from his home and assesses winter’s damage. The roof needs repairs, a window or two need replacing, the truck needs new brakes. He schedules part-time jobs—waiting tables, guiding tours, pumping gas. Enough, just enough to make his own repairs, stock up for the long winter, and save the prudent 20 percent. When the days get shorter and tourists leave, he breathes again, at peace that he earned his place in this world.