You know I'm thankful that I got married again, because the ten years between marriages was just getting a little expensive and lonely. There were trips to Europe, countless dates, new cars, constant nights out in the city, and an infinite amount of spending money. Woops, Lets try that again Ron!
You know I'm thankful that I got married again, because the ten years between marriages was lonely and just about all I could take. So one spring day in 1997 my next door neighbor Joan Rudner asked me if I would be interested in meeting someone she worked with. Well, there was a lunch date in Rockefeller Center, love at first sight, and a wedding at City Hall a year and a half later. (My wife just couldn't deal with wedding plans you know.) We were lucky enough to have a wonderful two weeks together before my wife became pregnant. Nine months of constant vomiting surely earned her some purple hearts. Now some ten years and two beautiful children later, I'm thankful for my beautiful wife and wonderful life. All because of my next door neighbor Joan and her matchmaking skills. Not to mention my wife who has been able to tolerate me all this time and survive my countless stories about Brooklyn. (Still giving thanks after all these years)
I'm also thankful that my wife agreed to move to Kensington and the house I grew up in after we lived for five years in her Fort Greene Brownstone. A 2500 sf. garden duplex, with all original detail and marble fireplaces. And I still get an earful every time we visit her sister or check up on the house. Oh, that’s OK, that place is just way too cool now for an original like me, and hey at least I have a driveway! (Still giving thanks after all these years)
I'm also thankful that I grew up on such a wonderful block. And there was no better block than ours too. It had the energy of any playground that you would take your kid to on a sunny summer day. There were just dozens and dozens of children out on the sidewalk playing all the time. We made friends and lost friends, we fought with each other and then made up. We learned how to win and how to lose. All without our parents ever getting involved. So I'm thankful for our own little "Lord of the Flies" or present day "Kid Nation" we just called East 4th. (Still giving thanks after all these years)
And the friends you made were the friends you kept for life. After almost 50 years we all still keep in touch with one another, and still feel free to argue about almost everything from sports to politics. All without ever losing that strong bond of perpetual friendship. So I'm thankful for living on a block that harvested so many good souls that I can still proudly call my friends. (Still giving thanks after all these years)
Then there were all the Dads on the block who stepped up to the plate after my Dad died when I was seven. From Bob Brennan stinging my hand during hardball catch to my Uncle Pete teaching how to ride a bike and swim. All these men including my Grandfather Paco and my Uncle Manual filled in all the missing pieces that my Dad left me. So I'm thankful to have had them all in my life when I needed them the most. (Still giving thanks after all these years)
What about my Mom? Just a pillar of Polish strength that taught me how to cope with any situation that life deals you. From a husband dying at 39 to a son at 13 four years later. All with a downs syndrome daughter to cope with, who ended up becoming my Moms best friend and certainly taught me the meaning of patience and love. I'm thankful Isabel was never put up for adoption, and became such a big part of our family for 33 years. I am also fortunate to at least have a Father and Brother in my life, although it was short lived. Throughout all of her terrible storms, my Mom just survived each challenge and was still able to save a smile for my sister and I. So I'm thankful she was my Mom and taught me the true meaning of the words "Love and Cope” (Still giving thanks after all these years)
And what about Thanksgiving you ask? Well let me tell you about those Thanksgivings at 399. It all started early on Thanksgiving morning, my brother Joseph, little sister Isabel and my cousins Pete and Denise would all either walk up or down their respective flight of stairs to our grandparents apartment on the second floor. We would then camp out on the rug in front of the TV and wait for the start of the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. My grandfather Paco would be sitting on his "Lazy Boy" right behind us all waiting for the show to start. The turkey cooking in the oven usually started in the morning too, and you could just about smell it throughout the entire house. Later in the afternoon the whole family would be there sitting around the dinner table. The voices of my aunt and uncle, grandparents, cousins, brother, sister, mother and father could be heard throughout the hallows of the wooden stairway. Not to mention the dogs barking too. So, I'm thankful for living in an attic apartment with my Mom, Dad, Brother and sister. Being able to grow up with the entire family in one big house, on one great block, in the City of Brooklyn. And still have all those wonderful memories to write about for now and the years to come. And Hey, Still giving thanks after all these years!