Today is May 1st… 25 years ago on this day my dear self-named “Tante Mary” threw me a bridal shower that was executed as if it effortlessly popped out of Martha Stewart’s most psychotic version of awesome. There were homemade table clothes and impeccably arranged flowers. Guests dined on fine bone china and ate quail eggs.
Yes, I just said quail eggs.
I didn’t even know quail eggs were something you could buy let alone serve and eat.
For this spectacular soiree she received the divine inspiration through some highfalutin magazine that, upon my arrival, she had on hand to show me. The layout, an opulent spread, was upstaged by what I was standing in front of in her immaculate home three doors down from the exclusive country club on “The Hill.” My godmother knew no bounds when she wanted perfect. In fact, from my shower, we called her new best friend – the man in San Francisco who had shipped her the quail eggs. To those of us who knew her, this was just par for the course.
I remember asking “wait, isn’t Uncle Kenny in the hospital?” suddenly remembering that he had almost died that week. She responded “oh him? He’s fine – he just got home from the hospital – I think he’s downstairs – isn’t that marvelous?” Yes, it was marvelous that he had survived and that he was tolerating 40 women walking around his house. What was not tolerable was the outfit I was wearing since I was dressed for the baseball game I thought I was going to – it was far from her expectations of perfectly perfect. And in her own way she let me know, looking me up and down, “oh right, you’re dressed for baseball.”
This was a woman who knew and practiced devotion to the greatest possible degree…and on that May 1st it was about throwing her niece the best shower quail eggs had ever been shipped to.
Besides the quail eggs my other favorite Aunt Mary story involved a hair clip. It was back in the 80’s and our families were at her house for a BBQ – she had the most fabulous hair clip – it was spectacular with geometric shapes and primary colors – to me it was “to die for” as she would say. My birthday was a few weeks later and as I opened some perfectly wrapped present that was a gift unto itself, there it was – that very hair clip. There was a note where she explained she tried to get me one but “Bloomies” didn’t have anymore so she was giving me hers. I was over the moon. Here she taught me that even with all the money in the world, sometimes the best thing you can do is give something used but meaningful.
Aunt Mary also taught me devotion to a marriage through the years of wedded bliss to my Uncle Kenny. I am blessed to have witnessed their extraordinary and beautiful dance – their devotion to one another. On the surface was their financial relationship – he was responsible for making the money and she was responsible for spending it – it is a REALLY good thing he was REALLY good at his side of the equation, because her expertise in her responsibility was unmatched (I wonder how many sets of braces paid for the quail eggs). He would work building his orthodontic practice and she would spin magic in their lives. Because of his gifts, brilliance and hard work and her visions of perfection – they enjoyed country club memberships and vacation homes, children in private school and bridge club…luxury cars and dresses so expensive she would have them shipped to our home in NJ to avoid paying sales tax (and probably to hide them from my uncle – he probably had his limits). But it wasn’t just the fairy tale – it was also in their exchanges where I saw devotion and “Ok Kenny, its time to leave!” to which he would respond “ok Rosemary” and off they would go. They danced together through holidays and parties they hosted. They were always in lock step with one another and always supportive.
She was quite a handful to have around and a complete nut in her own right. Quirky just like my grandmother and a staunch believer in superstitions “no Jennifer, we can not leave through the front door since we came in through the garage – that would be bad luck.” Uncle Kenny would roll her eyes and follow her back downstairs to walk out her way.
Lastly, there was a devotion to turning your back to those who didn’t want you and finding great peace and fabulousness with those who did. For instance, my cousin was accepted at Stamford and wait listed at Georgetown – to which she had us all in believing that Georgetown was sooo beneath us. And it was with great enthusiasm that we all turned our heads west at her command and I’m not sure she ever even went to DC again – they weren’t worthy.
I would later learn that despite several scheduling conflicts, including my uncles inconvenient trip the hospital, Tante Mary wanted my shower to be on May 1st – so that I would always remember the day – it was MAY 1st after all and remembered in all of its glory as the day my bridal shower was held. Mission accomplished. And here we are – May 1st of 2018 – a glorious spring day where the sun is finally shining – I can say that she was right. It has been less than two months since she has passed on and she brought out the sun on this day.