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Posts Tagged ‘grief’

The important part about buying a souvenir when you’re traveling is, will it fit in your luggage? Summer is here and Americans are back on the road, in trains and planes, searching for just the right trinket for a special someone…

… but buying a gift for someone you love is an art.

I’m not talking about a teeshirt from Key West. In the past, I’ve returned from Provence with pillow covers and napkins. I’ve been known to stuff a beautiful woven bread basket in the overhead returning from Charleston. But mostly, I was always on the lookout for anything with a bluebird – tea towels, tiny blown glass tchotchkes, silk scarves in an aviary print.

Today, we rarely have the opportunity to express our individual gift-giving skills; to think about the recipient and their quirks and desires. Whimsy has been subverted by The Gift Registry, just check something off an online list and poof, you’re done! It’s the opposite of thoughtfulness, it’s commerce. And sure, a wedding registry may be as unavoidable as ants at a picnic, but at least with a first marriage I can understand the need for it.

We all need to outfit a kitchen, whether we plan to cook or not. Still, I loved strolling through a foreign farmer’s market to find just the right present for Great Grandma Ada. She always returned from her travels with a small treasure for me. Maybe it was handmade beads from Russia, or a piece of pottery from Japan.

On one of our last nights at the beach, we went in search of the perfect ice cream cone. Thank God the Blue Mountain Creamery was still open because all the tourist shops had closed at 5! I strolled along some still open, open-air artist shacks, looking at the stained glass, the paintings of surf and sand, the tiny clay sea turtles. And without warning, a frog jumped into my throat; I no longer needed to find a bluebird for Adala.

June is her birthday month. She would have been so happy to see the world coming back to life. To see Joe and Jill meet the Queen. She would have smiled when she learned I was feeding the birds like she did. She would tell me it’s OK to light a candle on her birthday, and not on her death day.

And she would laugh to learn I was featured in a music video, pink hair and all! Here is the Love Bug and her buddy post-ice cream, did I mention she made a Clip with the L’il Pumpkin about the trash they found on the beach? Ada would be so proud of their nascent climate activism.

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It’s not everyday that my whole family gets to walk around NYC, on a holiday weekend, when anyone with a car has long since left this piece of the Apple. The Bride thought the city looked beautiful in its abandoned state: an older woman was slowly pushing her small dog in a fancy pram; decorated, horse-drawn carriages were lined up in front of the Plaza waiting for tourists who never came; and out on Sue’s upper-East side terrace, where she had planted 35 tomatoes in painters’ tubs, a nest of baby birds was singing to us. It’s one of those strange, paradoxical moments in time. In the midst of grief, sitting shiva in the middle of this concrete canyon, we realize there is still beauty.

And that’s probably what we are meant to do, reflect on my cousin’s life through our own lens. Someone said she wasn’t a political person, but I knew better. Because around Ada’s kitchen table we let our political hair down, and Sue was always in the middle of the fray, leading the conversation. Maybe with her NYC realtor/colleagues she didn’t voice her opinions, but her family and close friends knew she had the heart of a liberal. Which is why my conversation with the cabby of my taxi on the way to Penn Station was apropos.

He was from Africa. He spoke French “officially.” He got his BA from Baruch College in the Flatiron District and was going to get his masters soon. Just as soon as he gets his green card…

And to wake up at home this morning and hear all about President Obama’s meeting with Gov Perry in TX and speculation about Obama’s decision not to have a “photo-op” holding refugee children at the border yesterday made me feel sick. Particularly when I saw Perry quickly swivel his chair out of sight as the CNN camera started rolling at that meeting with the POTUS. God forbid he should be seen like Gov Chris Christie – embracing our President. Of course Perry would like a picture of Obama holding children he is “…about to deport” as one commentator said.

Because to a politician, it’s appearances that count.¬†And the optics of immigration isn’t very pretty.

My cabby told me there is a French saying about things you may want in life. Bit by bit, the bird builds her nest.

Father and Daughter in NYC

Father and Daughter in NYC

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