There's a love story that I find myself telling to friends who have not yet found their true love. It's the story of my cousin Debby, who found her first and only (so far) husband later in life.
Back in the 80's when I was living with a truly crazy roommate, and looking for a way out, Debby called to let me know that a woman in her building was looking to sublet her studio apartment for a mere $550 per month. The location was odd - 38th St & 3rd Ave. and the windows faced a brick wall, but the apartment wasn't tiny and the price was exactly right. Plus, Debby lived just upstairs where she had lived for decades. For the first time I got to know her a little better than I would have had fate not intervened with that apartment.
Debby was the only cousin in my mother's generation of cousins that didn't marry and have children. But that was only her first sin. She lived in Manhattan. She was single. She was usually late to family holiday dinners (she had to take trains and buses to get to the 'burbs for these events). And, she had allergies to everything. But to me, Debby was a hero. Why? Because she was single, lived in Manhattan and had a joie de vivre (I have no idea how to spell that) that nobody of her generation had. She always had an open mind and a high spirit toward life. She also had really and truly nutty parents. Her mother was my grandmother's older sister. She was a tiny little woman, cute as a button. She was a schoolteacher, and when I first went to college she mailed me a package of chocolate covered pretzels, which I had never heard of. They were delicious. Her father was the spitting image of Walter Matthau and the man had stories that went on and on and sounding very intellectual though I never knew what he was talking about. Somebody once told me that at some point he was a member of the JDL, a violent zionist group. That may not be true, but I hope that it is.
So, back to 38th Street. Debby and I had a neighbor who was about my age, a punk rocker with a blonde bombshell Broadway-bound girlfriend and a pet rabbit. They befriended Debby and set her up with the rocker's dad, a tall, thin, handsome man named Guy. This happened right at the same time I met my husband, so it made an impression on me and I always felt that I was there when she finally, after 50+ years, found love. The other impact on me was that I would pet-sit her parakeet named Sweet Pea that she saved from the indecency of a cage in Woolworths when she and Guy were out of town in those early days. Marc & I would sit around singing SWEEEEEEEEEEEET PEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEA to the bird, as we were instructed, for hours.
The way Debby tells it, she had sent out a message to the universe just months before she met Guy, and when she was introduced, he met all the qualifications she had set forth: grown children, lived out of the city, and a December birthday. They married soon after and moved to Florida, where Debby gloried in the natural world and enjoyed the exotic birds that flew into their backyard. Eventually they bought a small house in Maine where they had formerly spent the summers (as all good Floridians do to get out of the oppressive heat) and moved north to enjoy a new set of exotic wildlife of the northern variety.
A couple of years ago Guy got sick with Multiple Myeloma, then Debby got cancer. But they cared for each other and as far as I could tell, from long distance, and periodic updates from my mother, they were getting along ok, if a little precariously.
Unfortunately, Guy passed away last night and Debby, much to her surprise, after 17 years of marriage, finds herself a widower. She reported that Guy got to speak to every family member personally, was laughing and joking until the very end, and went out "in style." Which is exactly how I imagine they lived for the past 17 years. So I now hereby send out my condolences into the universe and Debby (who can't figure out how to comment on my blog) - I hope you are ok and remain healthy for many years to come. L'chaim.