|NOT my mother.|
My mother was born in 1920 to an Italian immigrant family in New York City—Hell’s Kitchen. She was the baby of the family, and from all reports, she was her father’s favorite. She had two brothers and a sister, and they were born in 1914, 1916, and 1918. These were my uncles and aunt. The strangest one is the younger uncle who somehow managed to grow up to be a sane, responsible, loving, intelligent, fun person (as opposed to his three nutty, social misfit siblings); in order to fit in with the rest of the family, he married a nut. He is also the only one of the four that did not develop Alzheimer’s. Hmmmm…
One evening in 1941, my mother was sitting in Central Park with a friend or two. My father, a Midwesterner, was also with a friend or two—they were in the Navy and taking a stroll through the park. My younger brother tells me that our dad approached her and asked her if she’d like to go for a beer, and she said “yes.” They married in December 1941.
It wasn’t just a fondness for beer that fueled their relationship; my father was deeply in love with my mother all through the 60+ years they were married (that’s right, I never got my childhood wish). A strong man who suffered a dreadful childhood, my father treated my mother like a princess. She treated him like shit.
I never really knew my parents; strange since we lived in the same houses for 18 years. I know almost nothing about their lives before I was born. What I do know, I’ve learned from my younger brother who bonded with my father over scotch and football (actually, my father was not a scotch drinker; he favored cocktails like Manhattans, martinis, whiskey sours, Tom Collins, and old fashioneds; they—more likely—bonded over beer and sports), and stories I picked up from extended family.