A long time ago, when the earth was still flat, I was dating a guy.
A guy who had introduced me to his parents and siblings and, shockingly, still wanted to be with me. Then came the real test: his sister’s wedding.
That’s where you meet the rest of the family. Anyone would feel tension at this point. But, I was a Christian woman, plunged into a very Jewish world. New territory for me, and I was feeling pressure.
I’m in a luxury hotel, at a beautiful, flower-drenched wedding and I’m keenly aware that there is only one other sista on the floor. And she is carrying a tray.
That, my friends, is pressure.
This is where I intend to impress the extended family. Among them, a feisty old lady that was my boyfriend’s grandmother. She weighed maybe 90 pounds, had paper-thin skin, a piercing look in her eyes, and a well-timed potty mouth. I loved her instantly.
Skip ahead two years, and I’m engaged to the same guy.
We’re visiting his family in Florida again, and there’s a big family dinner at a local restaurant.
My future brother-in-law proceeds to tease me in the fashion I’m told is customary for siblings. My fiancé’s young cousins are talking my ear off and I love it. Near the end of the evening, his grandmother quietly pulls me aside.
“Now that you’re going to be family, do you mind if I give you some advice about marriage?”
I don’t think I have ever been so keen to hear another person’s opinion in all my life.
I quickly surmise that this tiny, little woman in front of me has survived The Depression, The Holocaust, World War II and 50 years of marriage and family. And she wants to advise me?
Yes, I think I will shut the hell up and listen.
It’s advice that I hand out to my soon-to-be married friends…
(What, I’m going to give it away on here for free? Getouttahere.)
Over the next decade or so, I see her and her husband at family functions and we talk a little bit. They tell me about their vacations, the crazy things their kids did, how they love being grandparents, how bee-you-tee-ful (her pronunciation) their great grandson is. And every time I saw her, before we said goodbye, she’d leave me with a hug, a kiss and a dirty joke. So help me, she made me blush every time.
The last time I see them together, they are looking… less feisty. I hug them both and wait for my joke. She gives me the punchline, I blush and hug her gingerly before saying goodbye.
About a year later, she loses her husband of 54 years.
Today, my husband let me know that she finally went to be with him.
Now, I have to cling to the memory of that last laugh and that careful hug. It has to sustain me, for who knows how long, until we see her again.
Rest in Peace, GG Deli.
You lived long. You’ve earned your rest. And I pray you’re with your Louis again.