Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Feats and Shoes

If you are a person who believes in the notion of an afterlife, then you have to smile just a little these days of thinking how much hard-edged the reporting on that particular beat has gotten this year. First Andy Rooney and just this past weekend Mike Wallace picked up a new assignment. A couple of curmudgeons to be sure. But curmudgeons who - in spite of their apparently average-sized frames - wore exceptionally big shoes. Shoes that shall likely prove to be very difficult to fill. Here's to hoping that those who may have the chops to do so do not get scared off of the challenge. The two of them did important work. But as always seems to be the case, the need for that work to be done continues. It outlived them. As the great Pete Hamill wrote in "Downtown: My Manhattan", "Time itself is long, even if the time of man is short." And it always is short. Even when the time of a particular man lasts for more than ninety years.

Sunday was a tough day to be a vegetarian in our neighborhood. Margaret made lamb and ham for dinner. While Sunday dinner in our home is typically a three-attendee affair, on this particular Sunday we were joined by the Frank Bozzomos - father and son. Frank and Frank joining us for dinner was terrific on a couple of different levels. As a practical matter, had not two perpetually hearty appetites aided in consuming all of the food Margaret prepared, I would be eating leftover lamb and ham until the cows come home (Oh, see how effortlessly he nails the farm animal comedic reference trifecta! I will be here all week folks - all week!). More than that however, I always enjoy having a front-row seat for the multi-generational interaction. The ability to speak across those generational lines, which ability each of them possesses, is uncanny. The similarities between the men of three different generations are uncanny. Each is his own man. Yet the common DNA is apparent. Had Joe's namesake - the older of Frank's two sons - been able to join us for dinner then the shared characteristics would have been visible not three - but four times - over. Each man, spanning three generations, is his father's son.

And I was reminded again on Sunday just how seamlessly Margaret has moved into the role of familial glue. We are fast approaching the third anniversary of Suzy B.'s death. My mother-in-law was for all of the time that I had the pleasure of knowing her - the emotional center of her family. By being nothing more or less than her mother's daughter, Margaret has assumed that very position. Replaced her? No. Not everyone can be replaced. Taken up the mantle of responsibility and filled the void left by her? Absolutely. I love my bride with my whole little burned out ember of a heart. I am reminded time and again that without intending to, I occasionally underestimate the extent of her fortitude. When that happens, days such as Sunday serve as a wake-up call.

The amazing thing is that from afar one cannot readily tell just how big Margaret's shoes are. Although if I had to hazard a guess, it would be that Suz already has picked out a pair for herself in a style she likes. Suz is a stickler for preparation. After all, she is her mother's daughter.


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