Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blast From The Past

Last Sunday, DS#1 and I went to an 80th birthday party for an old friend of my parents. How old? Next year, Memorial Day, it will be 60 years since my mother and her best friend met the gentleman who became the husband of my mother's best friend. (The family of my mother's best friend also introduced my parents. Their reason? Both were Catholic and both liked to read!)

Along with another couple, they went on picnics, had "poker nights," celebrated holidays and special events together. And had kids. Six adults versus ten kids made the odds a bit more even. Unlike hanging with my cousins, I was the oldest--by a month. According to the younger kids, R & I were the "ringleaders." We masterminded creek diversions, cops-and-robbers games, Marco Polo, hide-and-seek, and whatever else we could come up with when our parents told us to "go out and play."

This all came out at the birthday party, along with memories of the brown leather suitcases, big enough to hold a martini shaker and two bottles, and round metal coolers with scotch plaid theme. And the fact that the birthday boy was never satisfied with the way his yard looked, so it was always under construction.

There were pictures, including us as children. Trying to figure out which girl that was in the bathing cap was a challenge because, in order to fit us all in, the picture taker was standing across the pool.

The biggest shock was a picture of my mother, taken when she was about ten years younger than I am now. My resemblance to her is uncanny. (Fortunately, I think Mom has aged well!)

Another surprise was the father and stepmother of my best friend were there! The connection is a little bit complicated--mostly it's a Mission High School connection. (It's that "six degrees of separation" thing that native San Franciscans seem to have.)

Two people were missing: the birthday boy's wife, who died suddenly about ten years ago, and my dad.

Before we left, we took a picture of those kids that were there (seven out of the ten) and our kids. We told each other how nice it was to get together when it wasn't a funeral.

On the way home, I tried to explain to DS#1 about how important these people were in my childhood. They are in nearly every memory I have, big ones but more importantly, the small ones, too. Getting up at the crack of dawn to go on a picnic. Eating barbecue in the backyard on the Fourth of July, dressed like Eskimos because it was so cold. One year when my dad gave up and barbecued in the fireplace in the living room on a hibachi. Setting off fireworks in the driveway. Waiting an hour before we could swim. The really cool wading pool at Almaden Park.
These are the people my parents could depend on in an emergency. These were the kids who were always there, who remember the pieces of my childhood that I've forgotten. Who, along with my siblings, could probably blackmail me effectively. (As I could them!)

DS#1 sort of understood. He's a young adult now and is starting to separate from the friends he had in high school. His life is moving in a different direction. The one family friend he's had since they were babies is in the Navy and I was glad to hear they still keep in touch.

The past keeps you grounded.