Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Old Years That Gave All Those Happy New Years

As the year comes to an end it brings about reflective thoughts. We wish everyone, "Happy New Year" which is a good thought about an unknown situation. The New Year always symbolizes a new beginning, a fresh start. Actually it is only a continuation of wherever we find ourselves as we live our lives. I find myself this year not so much focusing on what the future might bring but what all those "New Years" that have come and gone have brought to me. This seems proper I think to focus on what has actually happened rather than on what one might hope might happen.

Being in a reflexive state I find myself going back to the beginning. By the luck of the draw, or the Grace of God, I was born into a terrific family. Not only was my Mother and Father great people who loved me but I had a ready made extended family. While it was only my brother and me there were great Uncles, Aunts Grandparents and most of all cousins of all ages that were more like brothers and sisters. We all lived within a mile of each other so everyone saw everyone almost each day. They tell me we were poor but I never knew it. There was always plenty to eat, lots of people around making a lot of noise mostly by laughing and of course arguing. The ethnicity was Italian so there was always a lot of hugging, fighting and making up. But most of all a lot of food. The whole situation was like a great cocoon with me the baby safely inside of it protected by the whole neighborhood since most were friends or friends of friends, more like family. What a great feeling, having a family which is there always for each other.

A neighborhood means so much to a kid growing up. My first neighborhood was Corona, providing the cocoon referred to above. We moved from Corona to Queensborough Hill, Flushing when I was about five years old but the Corona I knew never really moved out of me. I suddenly found myself in this new place, The Hill, with no one around that I knew. I rode my tricycle up the block and met a guy whose name was Eugene but everyone called him Babe, maybe after Babe Ruth whom he resembled or because he was the baby in his family, the third son born maybe a decade after his two older brothers. I made a lot of other friends but Babe and I are still friends after some seventy-two years. Quickly The Hill became mine. Ethnically it was different from Corona. I met a lot of Irish and they were quieter than my Italian family but they had a sense of humor that was just as quick and funny. Their food was different but it was good, my introduction to how "others" lived. Babe's mother was a real lady, genteel but his father gave a rough and tumble appearance, like he could handle himself in a brawl. Babe's two older brothers had a reputation that kept Babe safe and sound not that he needed their protection but having two older brothers in reserve just in case wasn't too bad. For WW II, one joined the Army the other the Navy, an original Intrepid gunner. Needless to say they saw plenty of action as did my uncles, and cousins. The Hill was the best place to grow up as it was a melting pot of German, Irish and Italian. We had no Blacks, Negros as they were referred to then, nor did we have more than one or two Jewish families. Our loss but that loss was made up when I went to Flushing High School. Flushing High gave me what could be called the best, although I had other bests, four years of my life. Great teachers, students and a real melting pot where I met people of all persuasions and color and grew to love them all, except of course crazy George and his gang, but I digress.

When I hit my twenties I met a great girl. She was gorgeous, smart, dressed up always and best of all laughed at all my jokes. I ran and ran after her until she finally caught me. She was Puerto Rican which was great because it exposed me to more of what other people were like, besides she had that hot Latin blood, know what I mean(?). We got married and started our own family which in effect replaced the families of my youth since many had moved a distance away and we didn't stay in close contact. We had what could be considered a mid-sized family for our block had two families living next door to each other that had over twenty kids between them, around the corner was a family with eight or nine and a little down the block one family had nine girls so our family of seven was not considered all that large. The neighborhood was awash with children laughing and playing a little like Corona and The Hill. My children have given me happiness beyond description. When they were growing up I used to like to say we had six animals and one girl to those who would inquire. My girl is always there supporting me now and in the past. She was there when her mother, my love, could no longer take care of herself. We talk almost every day. My sons try not to show emotion which I guess is my fault. They too were there when their mother lost her hold on anything. There was the Respite group which they all financed. My son the lawyer helped me through many hurdles which could have cost a fortune. My first and second son walked me through all the hurdles when my house burned down. Listen, the importance of family can't be stressed and that includes my daughter-in-laws
who always jumped to the forefront when needed. Let me put it this way, when they were young they couldn't have survived without me and their mother, my love. Now in my later years I don't think I could survive without them.

There are so many things I could write about but I started this I wanted to say that my life has been a series of "Happy New Years" even if I didn't think so at the time. But for all that I might have wished for my "Happy New Years", none could beat what I have experienced through being born into such a great family, growing up in neighborhoods which gave a feeling of family, and having a family coming out of a great love between a young girl and her guy. Whatever you may be hoping for this coming year be sure you grab on to what is most important and if you have a family grab it, hug it, love it and never let it go.          
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