And so with pandemic pandemonium still full tilt, the summer 0f 2020 ends with an anniversary, a birthday, and a death. Yup, all in one weekend. We just needed someone to give birth for the full monty.
33 years ago.
I celebrated my 33rd wedding anniversary on Saturday. We got married on Labor Day weekend to remind us that marriage is work! And after more than three decades I can confirm that as fact, but it’s also fun and funny and awful and stupid and the best thing ever and did I mention, a lot of work! Our kids are home, those people we made during this marriage, and I might add, the best thing we have ever done, so it was a little different. They gave us breakfast in bed and that night we went to the North End for a socially distanced and delicious dinner outside at Mare. I got a cool bouquet of flowers and wine from Winston’s and check that box, we’re onto 34 years.
The next day we headed down to my sister’s on the South Shore for my brother-in-law’s birthday. We had a decadent lunch of steak and salad and swiss chard and this rice thing my sister makes which is disarmingly good. We took a walk on the beach and just hung out in their backyard. It was so nice to be together. This is what you realize during this hideous virus, that the simplicity of just being together with people you love is every little thing.
Monday morning we got the call that Peter’s dad had passed. He’d had Covid for two weeks and went straight downhill like an Olympic skier. He had been living in a memory care center with Parkinson’s, and while not able to do a whole lot, he was content and loved seeing Peter’s brother and sister and grandchildren and brand new great grandchild, who all lived nearby. But in case you don’t believe the power of this virus, by the sounds of it, it runs through an older body like a fucking tsunami.
Peter’s dad was the child of a Holocaust survivor, who, with the help of nuns, escaped from a camp and came to Ellis Island with his wife and seven year-old son. His wife died quickly of a brain tumor and having been a wealthy Viennese lawyer,, with no English in a new country, he gave his child over to foster care, while he went back to school to become an accountant. Peter’s dad went to a few foster homes, before landing in a permanent one, where he also saw his dad. It was a challenging start to life for him, but he worked hard and went on to UPenn and get his Ph.D in chemistry at Northwestern, where he met Peter’s mom and went on to become a prize-winning chemistry professor at SUNY Buffalo, who helped lots of students go on to find their own success. He had three kids he adored, loved classical music, art, symphony, and peaches, blueberries and corn(!), with great passion. He played piano, swam a mile a day until he became ill, and spent as much time as he could at his house in the Finger Lakes, which he cherished. After an unexpected divorce in his early 60’s, he grieved hard, the bounced back and was lucky enough to find the most fabulous woman to enjoy his later life with. His kids revered and loved him. His was a life well spent and a shiny, bright example of resilience, that thing that keeps us afloat when we could be at the bottom of the sea.
This is what we do in the time of Covid. We still celebrate anniversaries and birthdays and grieve deaths. It’s different, but we don’t let that which is important and vital go unnoticed. It’s harder, it’s more challenging, but it’s also more necessary not to allow this unspeakably awful virus to ruin what’s important. It’s already taken too much from every one of us. Gratitude for a long marriage, a loving brother-in-law and and the end of a life of, “Fall down seven times, get up eight,” that will never be forgotten.