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1:59 p.m. - 2010-11-26
The Absent Guest

The year Alex was 5 he had Thanksgiving dinner with my mother. Mike and I hadn't been invited. Mommy Dearest wasn't interested in hosting family, she just wanted to have Alex so she had an excuse to flee her house. She loathed her boyfriend's sister and father and Alex gave her a reason to say, "It's been swell, but I need to take my grandson home." Not that she ever called him her 'grandson', she just referred to him by name and insisted Alex call her by hers and not 'Grandma'. 45 year old Mommy Dearest didn't like to remind her 26 year old boyfriend she was old enough to be a granny.

Why agree to any of this nonsense? Because Mike had gotten fired (again) and we had no food in the house. At least Alex would eat, you know?

That Thanksgiving was a strange and sad day. It wasn't long after I tired of my mother's bullshit for good and banished her from my life. I also begged my pop (stepfather who adopted me, obviously prior to my mother giving him the chuck for Mr Young Buns), anyhow I begged my pop to give my malcontent husband another job, which he did, despite Mike having royally fucked up the previous job which my pop had also gotten for him. Out of all my parents (of which there were many if you include all the step-parents) my pop was my favorite.

He wasn't educated or very smart (no shit, he married my mother, duh) and his involvement with the Mob ended up costing him (and us, the daughters) quite a bit, but he had a great big heart. He was kind and knew how to laugh. If his execution lacked foresight and finesse, his intentions were always good. And for me that counted for much.

I thought about this yesterday as we sat at our lightly populated table and wished he could have been there. Pop would have liked Mick. I know he'd be happy that I was happy. I wished Wolf could have known him. If Pop had been there I'd have urged him to tell the story about how he and his twin brother took a whim when they were 16 to see more of the world than their Bronx neighborhood and had started hiking north. How after spending the night in the stables at Yonkers Raceway and earning a few bucks shoveling horse manure the next day after they were caught by the kind stable manager, they snuck a ride in the back of a hay truck. A ride that got them across the river and most of the way up here. The hay truck drove on and on. Eventually making its way out into the farm country. Knowing the truck would have to stop soon and fearing detection by the driver they were crouched low near the open tailgate ready to jump, when the truck hit a huge pothole and my pop was bounced right out. My uncle jumped off after him. The truck kept rolling. So there they were, two 16 year old doofuses from the Bronx suddenly stranded 60 miles from home on a back country road and not a clue as to where they were or what to do next.

What happened next is a good story on its own, but I told you this one because of the family joke that's tied to it. Years later after Pop had married my mom and his kids and Gidget and I had become an all-girl version of the Brady Bunch we'd be at the dinner table and Pop would be talking about his day. When he felt others had tried to best him in a business deal he'd boast about his (usually marginal) success in swinging things back his way. He'd always finish by saying, "I didn't just fall off the hay wagon, ya know." And we'd always chorus, "No, Pop, you fell off the hay TRUCK!"

One in a million, my pop was.

I miss you, Chuckles, and love you always. ~LA

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