Monday, October 26, 2009


I've been friends with R. forever. Close enough, anyway. We learned to smoke and read Kafka and Camus and skipped school together. We set one car on fire and came pretty close to doing it to another. We double dated. I was his best man and he was mine. He held my oldest an hour after he was born and I did the same with his.

We grew up with each other. We're growing older together too, taking vacations and making college visits and talking school and jobs and families with each other the whole time.

When you're friends like that, you're also friends of the family. He watched my mother light Hanukkah candles and I hung out at his house on Christmas. His family didn't care, families didn't care too much about that kind of thing when I was growing up. What was another kid around the house?

When people talk about Italian moms being a saint, they're thinking of R.'s. We burned magnesium in her sink and killed a chipmunk in her kitchen and made all kinds of other bad choices in her neighborhood and her house and she let it slide, because what are you going to do, it's your kid and his best friend.

R.'s parents came to my wedding. They twirled around the floor and I came close but I didn't cry, I've only cried twice in front of R., my best friend.

When R.'s mom got cancer, she got sick, then better, then sick again. I stopped by her house near the end and kissed her on the forehead and went out to the car and cried in front of R. She wasn't my mom and I won't pretend she was, but I miss her all the time. She would have liked my kids, loved them probably. They sure would have loved her, pasta and heart and everything else.

Dads weren't so simple back then. They worked a lot in my neighborhood, not so far removed from the Great Depression. R.'s worked like hell and so did mine. Got up, earned a paycheck, came home. We were lucky, our dads, sons of immigrants, had good educations and good jobs.

And they were, they are, good guys. R.'s dad took us snowmobiling until we crashed into a ditch and fishing until he couldn't stand listening to us complain about the cold and now he asks about my kids. When we see each other, not often enough, we talk politics and art and theater and a little bit of sports. Christ, we've had some fights. He's a good man, though, and when I was growing up at R.'s house and his mother's, I was growing up at his dad's house too.

R.'s dad is having his kidney removed on Friday. Cancer. His wife will be there; she's great, I love her dearly, and she and the rest of us will all be pulling for him.

I'd like to see R.'s father dance at a few more weddings.


gregor samsa said...

Best wishes to R for a speedy and complete recovery!

gregor samsa said...

I meant R's pop of course.

Jennifer said...

Yep, best wishes.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

When the Health Care System works, it is pretty good....

This zombie is hoping it is working. Making Snag happier is a perfectly proper function.

Well written, also. And such as.

blue girl said...

Pulling for R's dad over here! Hoping for the best.

Brando said...

Same here, best wishes for R's dad.

Great post, Snag.

fish said...

Focusing good stuff his way. Life can turn ugly on the wrong people.

high roller said...

Sending positive thoughts to R and family.

Kathleen said...

hoping for a very successful surgery!!