Anne Notations

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jimmy's mom

Tonight the phone rang, and it was Peggy. She was a dear friend of my late mom's. In the early 1950s they were young mothers in a new suburban neighborhood, with toddlers born five weeks apart. Peg's little Jimmy and I played together every day and held hands. Then my family moved - first to Chicago, then Connecticut. After we returned to Massachusetts, our two families reconnected. Jimmy and I were 14. He was tall and what we girls called "cute," with wavy auburn hair and smiling eyes. He became my first boyfriend. We were innocent and bubbling with puppy love.

Peggy was the first of several incredible "mothers of boyfriends" I was lucky to know, including, ultimately, my mother-in-law: lively, extroverted, affectionate women whom I adored. I think I talked as much on the phone in those years with Peg as I did with Jimmy. She and I were pals. During the summer of 1967 I would hang out with Jimmy's family at their beach trailer on Angelica Point. We spent all day in our bathing suits. We caught and steamed teeny periwinkles and ate them from their shells, speared with pins and dipped in butter, at the picnic table. Peggy sang to me: "Annsy, you are my Wannsy." She and her handsome, rugged husband, Dick, flirted and embraced. Jimmy's younger brother and sister were tall, tan, and blonde. In the presence of that technicolor family, life was vivid and fun.

At my mother's memorial service in 1998, Peg and I reconnected, and we have stayed in touch via e-mail and Christmas cards. It was our holiday card last week that prompted Peg's call. Right away I knew why she was calling me. I could hear it in her voice - devoid of its usual sparkle, spongy with mourning. Her dear Dick had died last February.

"I still miss him every day. We were never apart, Anne. I know he is at peace now, but I miss him. My children are so good. They do everything for me now.

"This year I don't have a Christmas tree, just my creche. Dick used to set up the train for me. I have the whole Dickens village, but it's packed away.

"My eyesight is bad. I have macular degeneration. I can't paint anymore. It's hard to dial the phone. I'm waiting for a new drug to be approved by the FDA.

"Last spring I took my granddaughter to Greece. We stayed in an apartment by the water. We went to Athens and saw everything - the Parthenon, the Acropolis. The sea is the most beautiful turquoise. Everyone sits outside on their terraces. The children play soccer until late at night. You would love it, Anne.

"This year I'm going to Portugal. Dick and I stopped there once on the Queen Elizabeth. My kids say, 'Ma, you have to go out and do what you want.' And I do. You can't stop."

I said: "Peg, do you realize you are one of the people who has known me the longest? My parents are gone. I have only one aunt still living. You have known me since before I turned two. That's more than 53 years."

Good-bye. Good-night. My love to your family. Merry Christmas.

Now, several hours later, I have a small, warm, sweet feeling in the center of my chest. I think I'm still in love with Jimmy's mom.


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