One year on…
The giant pinnacle game in the sky got a new player a year ago today. It was always my mother’s favorite game — and she’d have a twinkle in her eye whenever she’d talk about playing pinnacle with her uncles and aunts during her childhood in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
My hope is that she’s been playing the game, surrounded by all of her old kitties, every sock she ever lost neatly reunited in a dresser drawer, and otherwise hanging with her favorite relatives plus those members of her old gang of girls that have gone on to join the pinnacle table at the heaven club.
It was in my mother’s retelling of her old memories of Brighton Beach that my brother and I always saw her at her happiest.
As if in a slip stream of joyous abandon she’d say, “I swam from May to November,” while my brother and I tried to envision her as a young girl diving into the waves in late October sunshine on an “Indian” summer afternoon. She’d also tells us about how she and her gang hung out along the boardwalk, hit Steeplechase in Coney Island for what felt like a thousand times a season or played handball for hours on end. The lone photo I remember seeing of her of that time (the late 1940’s) shows a smiling face in a white shirt, rolled up dungarees and a pair of saddle shoes surrounded by four or five best friends.
She’d also talk about the music she’d listen to. She was never a Sinatra fan as that was the province of her older sister, so in those days her favorites where Frankie Lane and Mel Torme, but she also loved opera and would listen to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio with her mother on Saturday afternoons — a bond they shared across the years and a hot topic of conversation on their weekly Sunday calls.
As we enter summer again, I envision my mother as a young woman — the woman of my childhood. I like to think of her on the beach, the waves at her feet, the sun embracing her as she stares off kind of dreamily. If ever I asked her what was beyond that kind of gaze she’d tell me about all the places she wanted to go to — and while she never did get to many of them, perched up at her card table on a veranda, the sea close by, my hope is the view is just great with the world laid on in front her of like a giant canopy.