Brooklyn Fit Chick
“The Most Difficult Post So Far”
Right now as I type this Blog post it is a beautiful (almost) summer day and I should be drinking tequila and hanging out with my friends for a Memorial Day bash.
Instead I am sipping wine with LOGO-TV’s Facts of Life marathon playing in the background trying to comprehend the last 10 days.
Last Saturday (May 16th) my mother called to tell me my father suddenly passed away. He was at a wood turner’s convention in Provo, Utah (an event he enjoyed for many years) when he did not show up for breakfast. His friends went to his room where they found him on the floor.
It took the coroner a few days to get back to us but he basically fainted, fell and hit his head. He died very quickly at the age of 74.
Funnily enough I had a conversation a few days before with a friend about how in life we show up alone and we leave this world the same way.
However, I would never imagine that for either one of my parents. They were always together, attached at the hip as they say. But that is exactly what happened to Dad—he was alone in his final moments.
After 50+ years Mom had to wait for a week to get his remains.
I was and remain in shock over this news. My father is just gone.
I will never hug him again or regale him with stories about annoying parents and their spoiled children who belong to my gym.
We won’t quote Mel Brooks movies or talk like Fredo from The Godfather (“I’m not stupid—I’m smaaaaart!”)
He will never send me “What’s App” videos with his favorite restaurants in Sparks, Nevada or his newest art works again.
Joe Donohue is no longer here.
It’s only been ten days and people tell me it gets worse before you ever feel like yourself. (If you ever really do.)
Friends have been amazing and kind at this time in my life.
I am raw, emotional, vacant, resigned, “stabby,” resilient and sanguine at any moment you try to reach out to me.
I have no idea if I am behaving properly.
A misdeed enrages me and a thoughtful note makes me weepy.
Yesterday I finally had to GET OUT and leave this apartment for more than an hour to go on with my annual pilgrimage to Far Rockaway, NY.
The bagel shop I bike out to is exactly 15 miles from my apartment and feels like a whole other world.
My father was from Far Rockaway and could not wait to leave when he graduated from high school. It’s never been clear to me why he hated it (and New York in general) so much but he has never had a sentimental attachment to this city.
Joe Donohue was open-minded and enjoyed (nay—revered) friendliness.
Far Rockaway is cloistered and remote. It’s filled with cops, fireman and teachers. It’s an Irish Catholic enclave that never made him feel “at home.”
He felt restricted there. My father who resembled every beat cop on Law and Order wanted to be around people who were curious about the world around them and did not decorate their homes with shamrocks and crosses.
“Marg—why do you want to go all the way out there?” he would ask me.
I would simply say “the Gil Hodges Bridge.”
Every single time I cross it on my bike “Trixie” (which you are technically NOT allowed to do) thrills me to bits.
Me—the total acrophobic who can’t even see someone on a ledge or watch a movie where heights are involved without getting nauseous will cross a bridge with a narrow passageway that is over traffic and has a small railing to keep you centered.
As I venture from Brooklyn into Queens I can see the ocean all around me. The city is fading behind and I can hear people on boats laughing on the Jamaica Bay.
Nothing else matters and all of my worries fade as I move one peddle stroke at a time with the wind in my face and the cars and city busses roaring below.
It makes zero sense that I find any of this pleasurable but there you go.
Yesterday I had an image pop into my head as I peddled furiously to Led Zeppelin blasting in my ears.
It’s me at six years-old insisting my father teach me to ride a bike without training wheels.
He held the bike seat as I struggled to gain my balance and coordination. It was a failure and I became totally mad and frustrated with myself. (Basically me learning anything for the first time, by the way.)
How come all of the kids on Clinton Street can ride a two-wheeler and not me? I’m smart AND a tomboy! This should be like a duck taking to water.
Every day I struggled on my own after dinner until one day it just clicked. I got on that purple bike with the streamers and a banana seat while zipping around like a rock star.
Soon enough I went around the block with that BIG hill. It was the best feeling in the whole world!
Racing home I ran up the driveway and yelled for my dad to come out and watch me. He and my mom applauded as my inner bike goddess was roaring to life.
I still remember how proud he was of me and how he smelled when I gave him a tight hug. (Soap and Old Spice, always.)
Now I must figure out a way to move about the world without him.
This is scary to me but as I crossed that bridge yesterday I knew this is something I am going to have to work out on my own.
I WILL figure it out someday.
That is certain.
Until then, I just need to keep my balance and keep peddling…
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Until next time…
Brooklyn Fit Chick
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