I’m having a very hard time dealing with Mar’s death. It was like losing a part of myself. I can not think of Mar without remembering our childhood together. As those memories coming flashing back I only see two people, Mar and me...
Mar was three years older then me. We had a sister, Susan, that was born between us but she died when she was five. So, Mar was the one that I looked up to, we were pals and as it is with pals we both laughed and cried together.
Our family had what you would call a “pecking order”. Everyone had to go through a time when it was their turn to do the tasks that the older kids no longer wanted to do and the younger kids were just to young to be able to do...but their turn was coming.
Mar and I were the ones that had to go out in the rain or snow looking for a store that sold a certain kind of cake or ice cream for dad or to go to the grocery store and buy things on credit even after the grocer told mom she couldn’t have any more credit. We would always yell “put it on the book” as we scurried for the door hoping that the grocer wouldn’t embarrass us in front of other customers that knew our family.
Mar and I would run away from home at least twice a month. Once we left early in the morning and walked for hours only to turn around and go home after it got dark...we were dismayed to find that no one knew we had left.
Once we were told that we had to clean the cellar. Now cleaning the cellar was like being sent to purgatory. We knew that we must have done something against God and humanity to be assigned to such a gruesome task. Our cellar was where mom put all the clothes that she got from Goodwill where she worked. She sorted clothes that people donated to the poor. Mom would take one of us to work with her for one day during the summer. She would sort through the clothes (mountains of them) and pick out stuff for us to wear during the coming school season. Sometimes we got to pick something that WE wanted to wear and I thought I was really cool going to school in old second world war uniform shirts and pants that I had to roll up to make them fit. Well, she would put the clothes in large laundry bags and bring them home and they would wind up in the basement. this went on for years and the basement was full of bags chuck full of clothes that were forgotten except for when my older sisters, who no longer lived at home, came by looking for clothes. They, and some of us still living at home, would go down the basement and start looking through the bags (mom called it “rooting”) and throw clothes all over the basement floor. After a while you couldn’t walk down there and so somebody...Mar and I had to clean it up. It was a nasty dirty, and dusty job (dirt floor) and me being allergic to dust was sneezing and crying the whole time. We found a surprise cleaning that basement once...fleas! It seems that our little mongrel dog wanted to contribute to our misery. We came out of the basement that day with a very itchy rash. Mom felt so bad that she treated us to a Tasty-Kate and Pepsi.
Once when mom and dad were going through one of their trial separations, mom moved out with us and we lived in an apartment over top a jewelry store. There were so many of us in that small place that mom would send Mar and me to Paterson Park every day. We left early in the morning with a lunch ( usually a peanut butter sandwich) and were told not to come back until supper time. there was a pond in the park and we spent all day watching people fish for Sunnies and feeding our sandwich to the minnows. In case any of you have been wondering why the pagoda meant so much to us it is because that is where we spend much of our time during the day. We would race each other up and down the stairs. We would sit on the top floor and look out over the park and make believe we lived in the country.
Yeah, Mar and I went through a lot together. Once we were left at home, only the two of us, and there was nothing to eat. So we fixed mayonnaise sandwiches but didn’t have anything but water to drink. We found something in the closet that we had seen dad put in his drink and decided to try it. It turned out to be alka-seltzer that we threw down the sink.
Mar changed my life. She knew that I was having problems at home with dad so she and her husband John spend a lot of time with me allowing me to visit as much as I wanted when Teresa was a baby. I was a sixteen year old kid taken out of school after an eighth grade education by my dad to find a job and give my pay to the family. Mar knew of my problems because Mar had gone through the same scenario. As a matter of fact that was one thing she regretted in her life not being able to read or write very well. John was a sailor and began telling me how being in the Navy changed his life. He convinced me that if I didn’t go out on my own I would fall into a routine where I would never leave the inner city. I decided to follow in his footsteps and joined the Navy. Thanks to Mar my life was changed.
I will miss Mar. She spent the last years of her life trying to get our family back together and it left a deep wound in her heart that never fully healed when she realized that it was not to be.
One day we will meet again, Mar, me and mom and dad, and all the family. We will meet in Love... a love which all of us have been searching for all these years. When through our Lord Jesus Christ all our sins will be forgiven and we will stand before the Father whom is pure Love and all the pain will be gone...