Today is Tuesday. Another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and, for me, it means back to Grace Hall parking lot tomorrow.
I’m told that the holiday brought swarms of people to town. For the most part I avoided facing the downtown area with all the overcrowding, but around 5 p.m. on Sunday I took a chance that the crowds had thinned out and ventured an automobile drive to the center of town to check out what the rest of the world was doing.
My assumption that the downtown area would be less crowded proved to be so wrong. I drove past John’s Foot Long in Lopes Square, a place that had played a very important part in the life of my now deceased sister, Marian. Her grandson Michael had told me that his daughter Alyssa would be working at what once was Marian’s window a couple days a week. I had hoped I might get a glimpse of her and give her a thumbs-up but that idea was quickly dispelled when I approached Lopes Square. A mass of humanity obscured both windows. Then I made the circle and headed up Commercial Street.
I was quickly brought to a standstill with the entire street clogged with tourists, kids, dogs and bike riders, none of whom were disposed to move out of the way of the cars. Needless to say I breathed a sigh of relief when I turned up Shank Painter Road to return to the peace and quiet of my neighborhood.
I accomplished very little over the weekend except for making a trip to the cemetery with Avis to deposit flowers on the various graves. I did the driving and Avis secured the plants in the ground just as her mother had done in the past. I went there once again before the end of the weekend to bring what was left of the lilacs in my yard to Paul and Marian’s grave and found that someone had left her bedroom slippers out there ready for her to step into, which provoked a large sob from me.
And now we come to that: At the end of the week two very dear and longtime friends of my family, Donald and Billy, drove from Boston for the day to take Avis and me out to lunch and to deliver their plants to Marian’s grave. Because Billy had a yen for seafood and I can’t walk further than a block these days, the guys settled on Fanizzi’s, where they could park the car and Billy could enjoy his seafood.
Sitting at Fanizzi’s brought back pleasant memories of when the restaurant was called Pucci’s and was owned and operated by a sister and brother, Mary and Tom Pucci, old friends of my Aunt Ruth O’Donnell. Many an afternoon did Marian, Aunt Ruth and I enjoy cocktails and buffalo chicken wings when Mary would take time from her busy schedule to join us for a chat. Their wings were the best I’ve ever tasted.
A very pleasant afternoon was shared with Billy and Donald. Donald once lived with my brother Paul in Boston and soon became a part of our family. He introduced us to his friend Billy in later years. Billy was a hairdresser turned truck driver for Budweiser. Whenever he came to town he loved to fuss with my mother’s hair and take her shopping for clothes, which quickly won him a place in my mother’s heart. Today he lives in South Carolina and Donald lives in Florida. Past memories keep resurfacing as I get older.
And now we come to the other: I was impressed when I read of the magnanimous act of kindness from the billionaire keynote speaker at the Morehouse College graduation when he announced that he would repay the student loans of the entire graduating class. The students were wide-eyed with astonishment and gratitude.
I too have been the recipient of many acts of kindness, some of which I’ve written about in the past. They were evident after Marian’s death when I received a goodly number of sympathetic cards and monetary donations. One in particular comes to mind: a sympathy card from Terry Vorrelli and her girlfriend, Connie. Terry is the proprietor of a restaurant in the middle of town called Vorrelli’s. She enclosed a card entitling me to a complimentary lunch at her establishment, which evoked many more memories of days gone by when her bar was the place where old friends met and socialized. I’ve outlived most of them, but I wouldn’t exchange the memories for anything in this world.