I’m back in OC after another trip to NJ to visit my girls and the grandkids. It wasn’t one of my best visits because while I was there one of my dearest friends passed away at the very young age of 60.
I did get to see him briefly in the hospital the day before he went home to heaven; he was heavily medicated but I hope he knows I was there for a little while and sending him big hugs and muttering many thank you’s for the wonderful things that he and his family did for me during the roughest part of my life. He left behind his “girls”…his wife and two young ladies that I’ve had the privilege to watch grow into remarkable young women over the years. He was a full-time Dad, a “Mr. Mom” if you will, having decided that he’d made his mark in the business world and wanted to stay at home and enjoy every minute of his children growing up. I think he did. His wife was his soulmate and best friend. They had a wonderful relationship that lasted until the very last minute of his too short life.
I will really miss him. Anyone who would come to fix something at your house (after buying the parts you needed) because it was too small a job for a handyman to do and then have he and his wife bring you dinner when he returned to finish the job…well, that’s a real friend. I always called him “Big Guy.” That wasn’t necessarily because of his stature although he was above average in height (although as a short person, anyone over 5’4″ is big to me!) I called him that more because of the size of his heart and the enormous love he had for his family and friends. I will miss his dry wit, his extraordinary knowledge of music and wine, his gourmet talents and his ability to make everyone feel like he’d known them forever and liked them just the way they were. RIP, Dennis! Your lifespan was small, but your impact was huge.
On to the topic at hand.
At the risk of offending my many friends and relatives there, I feel compelled to express my opinion that there are only two colors in New Jersey: green and brown. It’s green in the summer and brown in the winter, unless, of course it snows. Which it did twice while I was there. Then it’s white, at least for a little while. There’s nothing worse than seeing piles and piles of snow become dirty over the weeks from vehicle emissions and mud, etc. It slowly becomes a dingy grey with streaks of black. Not pretty. I wasn’t back there long enough and there wasn’t enough snow to have to witness that but I do remember it. That and the days when we would have to do what we called “snow squeeze driving.”
There were times in my many years in the Garden State that we’d have to literally slow down to a crawl just so two cars could pass each other between the huge mounds of snow the plows had piled up in every available spot. My youngest, when she was about two-years-old and big enough to go play in the yard with her siblings when we had a significant snowfall, was terrified of the white stuff. I’d go out there with them to build a snowman or a fort and she would cry “No, Mommy, No!” and wrap her arms and legs around me and refuse to let me put her on the ground. I have no idea why. This is the same daughter who always tells me she loves the change of seasons and takes her girls out to play when there is a snow fall. I guess her fear was not passed on genetically.
We had three rules when the kids played outside: 1) never take off your mittens, 2) come in when you are all wet (without fear of having to stay in – just change and go back out) and most important was rule 3) Never eat yellow snow.
My kids loved snow cones and such and I was always afraid they’d think it was lemon syrup sprinkled out there when in actuality it was the dog’s tinkle that was sprinkled. I imagine that fear was unfounded but my kids did have a propensity for eating strange things and that had precipitated a trip or two to the doctor when there were only three wheels on a truck that had four or a bingo chip went missing from a board when we were playing.
I know I will get the argument that New Jersey is colorful in both the spring and fall, but to me those are short-lived times. If there’s too much rain in the summer, the foliage come autumn is pretty for about a minute and if it gets too warm in May and June, the blossoms are brown and down before you know it. I will never complain that my geraniums bloom all year round here. The one by my front door is about to celebrate its third birthday.
I am happy to be home once again, even though the trip took about 11 hours since the plane had a mechanical problem and we had to switch equipment and then we had to wait to be de-iced since it was once again snowing in New Jersey. The free DirecTV that was to be offered for the inconvenience didn’t work so the clever flight attendants offered free drinks instead and that made the passengers happy in more ways than one.
When we landed at SNA, I was exhausted and there, at the foot of the escalator, was the ever-faithful MOTNSO (“More Often Than Not Significnt Other”), standing there with a bouquet of yellow roses (my favorite) and a big smile. I posted that fact on Facebook and I’ve had many comments from friends asking when I will remove the “MOTN” from his name and just call him the “SO.”
I have to think about that, since any time anyone asks us if we will ever get married we simultaneously clutch our hearts and fall onto the nearest soft landing spot, feigning cardiac arrest. There was an article in the local paper the other day about a couple that were married on his 100th birthday (she was a very spry 93.) I made sure that MOTNSO saw that. He’ll be 66 next month. There’s plenty of time to remove the “MOTN.”