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October 30, 2016 / thackersam

Vicki’s Boys

How about a story this time. And not the pea soup story that I was going to give you last week (really though, it was great pea soup with croutons to die for).

Last Saturday would have been Vicki’s 60th birthday. I hadn’t even thought about it. Not the birthday nor what could have occurred, meaning the occasion of her joining the rest of us old farts who can now call ourselves sexagenarians. And while the event hadn’t entered my mind, she did. I’ve been thinking of her lately so strongly that I could feel her. I talked to her, even yelled at her, which I still do frequently as I will forever be pissed at her for dying. She missed my 60th birthday and we have now missed hers. It was all lost on me until I received the reply email from her husband the other night. I had, as I said, been thinking of her so strongly that I was prompted to write to him to see how he and the boys are doing. Assuming I already remembered, he mentioned that that in honor of the occasion, he and their sons, the oldest who is out of college two years now, and the youngest who just entered college this year, delivered Meals on Wheels, continuing a tradition they began the birthday following her death in February 2014.

Vicki had been a social worker before becoming a full-time mom, which was something she wanted to do and was very good at. She then devoted her talents to volunteerism, having already instilled the idea of helping others in her children since they were small (they are both now very tall, having taken after Vicki’s tall father, and tower over their own father). I will say that I always thought that Vicki, even though she was a bit of a helicopter mom and had that nutty-thing going on, was a loving and attentive mother who wanted the best for her children and for their futures, which included teaching them respect for others. She was also quite perceptive and aware of children’s behavioral issues.

I remember a time we were sitting on a bench in Central Park, talking. Throughout our decades-long friendship, we often got so wrapped up in our conversations that the world could just go on around us without notice. However this time, it was interrupted by a little girl, who was maybe about 10 (I’m so bad with ages) and was really carrying on after getting bopped in the face by a ball that was thrown to her. It may have been a Spalding rubber ball or something soft like that, and she wasn’t holding her nose so didn’t seem to be really hurt. But she was standing on a grassy section of the park across from where we sat, screaming and crying as a man and a woman were trying to console her. I commented on the fuss she was making, judging her behavior as bratty. No, Vicki told me, she’s not hurt, she’s upset.

The woman, she said, had laughed when the girl got hit with the ball. As if on cue, the girl screamed at the woman – “And you laughed at me.” As if that wasn’t enough, Vicki then said that she thought the man was her father, but the woman was not her mother. That took an extra minute or two, but the girl then yelled, “You’re not my mother!” I was actually pretty impressed with the girl’s ability to express what was really eating at her. Having come from a broken home myself and having people my parents got involved with thrust at me without explanation or interest in my feelings, I could now appreciate the little girl I judged as bratty. I was also very impressed with Vicki’s ability to diagnose a child’s behavior by mere observation while engaged in conversation. Mind you though, this was a particular talent of hers as my dear friend often had to be shaken from her own thoughts where she seemed to hide herself, and she was not always that perceptive when it came to her contemporaries.

Her boys, all three of them, are doing well, I’m told, as she would have wanted and expected. I however still resent that she and I went through so much of our lives together, starting as teenagers, with a bond so tight that sometimes we were mistaken for sisters or lovers (we were neither although her youngest brother would refer to me as his fake-sister and Vicki and I would frequently passed out in the same bed, in our younger days, of course). But we will not be a couple of fabulous old broads together, and that annoys the hell out of me. I guess I’ll just have to do that for the both of us.

BTW – In keeping with the often-lost music theme of the blog, Vicki loved Elvis Costello and the Talking Heads. In the early 80s (remember the 80s?), she had arranged for several of us to see both perform at Jones Beach. The Talking Heads were great (Movie recommendation – Stop Making Sense). Costello was pretty much of a bore and acted as if he didn’t care to be there. I like a lot of his stuff from back in those days (“Pump It Up!”), but think he’s pretty much of an ass.

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