One of the joys of being in New York is that I get to have regular dinners with Kerry. She is one of those people with whom I have had a twenty or more year relationship and I refuse to let go. I think she feels the same way –but I’ve never asked. That is either rude or smart and I prefer to think of it as the latter. Sometimes, when appropriate we talk business because we do have some issues in common and it’s always more productive when we’re enjoying a meal. But we never cross the line. Most of the time we talk about our kids because we have known them their whole lives and we remain concerned about all the drama which unfolds for them. We simply have too much to say and there is just no crap. I love her kids and she loves mine and so our discussions revolve around how can we make their lives easier—and eventually we recognize the truth—we can’t. But it never discourages discussion. We usually meet at nowhere convenient to her or me but that’s a good thing because we never feel limited by our geography. Ah, New York.
Tonight we met at a place we like on East 81st. That’s kind of halfway. That means it is not geographically close to either residence but takes us about the same amount of time to get there. She has to come across town and I take the subway uptown. I love the subway because, (when it’s working), it’s quick, convenient, and there are always interesting people to watch. I don’t find the same is true on the bus but I have friends who simply will not go underground. I have tried to tell them they are denying themselves the possibility of an event at every stop.
Anyway I got on the subway at 51st and at the next stop, 59th a nice looking woman about 50 got on and stood in front of me. There were no seats and I don’t get up for people who are younger than I am unless they are in uniform and have only one limb. She looked like a perfectly normal subway rider on her way home from work. When I glanced up from my paper I saw that her face was a little red and contorted. She had started to cry. Well actually, it was bigger than a cry but not quite a sob. So, being the cynical New Yorker I am when I am in New York, I immediately thought, this is a ploy for my seat. But what the heck, “Would you like to sit down?” I asked. She couldn’t speak so I took her arm, guided her into my seat, and stood in front of her. A nice young man, who was dressed like an axe murderer offered me his seat, but I declined.
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked, hoping that if there was I could do it between 59th and 77th. “No”, she said. “My dad just died and I can’t seem to get over it. I don’t cry at work but then when I get on the train I just can’t seem to control myself.” I didn’t ask her for the details of his death but I assumed that if she was at work it must not have been within the last few days. I thought about what I might like to hear from a less than perfect stranger. “You never get over it.” I offered. “My dad has been gone for twenty years and if I hear some song that triggers a memory, or see something like a daughter and dad walking together, it brings tears to my eyes. The best we can do is go with our feelings, like you’re doing now, hold the good memories close, and get through each day. And know that you’re not alone. There are so many people our age losing parents that it’s really an epidemic—it’s the price baby boomers pay for being such a large group.” She took my hand and nodded gratefully. The potential axe murderer was obviously listening because he thanked me for my advice and not taking his seat.
Kerry was already at the restaurant when I got there. And here’s only one reason why I love her so and why I always want to grow in her garden and visa versa. (see yesterdays blob). She said, “lot’s of people would think that subway meeting was an accident, I don’t think so. I think some angel put you there so you could help her deal with her loss. I believe that too. What else could explain the NY guy who leapt into the path of a subway train last week to save the life of a perfect stranger. He must have been sent by an angel.
I wanted to look at the bracelet that Kathleen gave me for Hannukah – which was easy since I don’t take it off -- It says “Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.” I guess you never know where and when an angel will send someone in to help. But I’m glad to know they are looking under, as well as above the ground. We’re just sayin...