Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Bowl of Cherries

My cousin Erin stood before a large crowd of guests at my Uncle Joe’s 85th birthday party in L.A. last week and recited an Irish toast.

“May your home always be too small to hold all your friends,” she said.

And that about sums it up for my Uncle Joe. The room at the Marina Del Ray Hotel was filled with friends, former coworkers, and, of course, family on this most special day.

There were Lenihans up the wazoo at this gig and I got to meet many of them for the very first time.

The theme of the event was “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” a slight variation on one of my uncle’s favorite sayings.

My sister and I were even part of the entertainment, providing the voiceover for a video presentation of Joe’s life that was written in the tough-talking style of the old Dragnet show.

I must say that my sister played the neurotic nun role perfectly, but I’ve got to work on that Jack Webb impersonation. I might need it again some day.

Joe is my father’s younger brother and it’s a little strange hearing him refer to my dad as “Jimmy.”

My father and two of my uncles had served in World War II and Joe said he believed that “Jimmy got the worst of it.”

I have some tough memories tied up with my dad, but Joe made me think of him not as a husband and a father, but as a young man giving up a priceless time of his life and going off to war. Nothing in my life even begins to compare with what he experienced.

I love listening to Joe sing old songs like “The Night Pat Murphy Died” and “One Meatball,” which contains the immortal line, “you gets no bread with one meatball.”

Sweet Dreams

And speaking of meatballs, I put away enough food during this trip to make up for the next three Thanksgivings.

Occasionally, however, I would stop eating and meet new people. I haven’t done this much socializing in a long time and looking around the room at Joe’s party and seeing all those people reminded me once again that’s there more to life than holing up in my apartment on winter nights and watching DVDs.

Sometimes I get the feeling that you could fit all my friends into my kitchen and still play a vigorous game of racquetball without hitting anybody. I'm exaggerating a bit, of course, but that sentiment is closer to the truth than I'd like it to be.

During our trip we went to the Huntington Library, which was packed with people attending the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The highlights included martial arts demonstrations and stilt walkers dressed in flowing red robes. I was standing next to one woman and as we trained our cameras on the towering figures, we both said the same line simultaneously.

“It’s like a dream!”

All dreams must end, I’m afraid, and I’m now I’m back in New York. Back to wearing a parka, back to wrapping myself up in a scarf, and back to wondering why the hell I’m not back in California.

And I’m also back in this empty apartment. Clearly I still have to work on getting out more, meeting people and getting the bread to go along with the meatballs.

I want to build a home for myself that will always be too small to hold all my friends.


Ron said...

Oh, so that's where you were, Rob...L.A.? How wonderful!

"My sister and I were even part of the entertainment, providing the voiceover for a video presentation of Joe’s life that was written in the tough-talking style of the old Dragnet show."

What FUN! And I bet you two were simply smashing!

"“May your home always be too small to hold all your friends"

Love that saying, and I've never heard it before.

Sounds like you had an awesome time!

I know you're not thrilled with being back home, but those of us here have missed you greatly. So we're GLAD you're back!

Welcome home, buddy!!!!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron, we had a great time!

The trip was really about the people than the sights. It was so great getting around and meeting my family members.

While I'm not exactly thrilled to be back, I am really touched that you guys missed me. I missed being part of the blogging scene, too!

Take care, buddy!

Bijoux said...

What a creative birthday party! A theme and impersonations? How fun is that?

I often think about what my grandfather and a few uncles went through in the world wars. What a horrific experience for them and their loved ones back home. As a mother, I can't imagine saying goodbye to my son, unsure if I'd ever see him again. And then to think of the post traumatic stress afterwards.

It's always difficult to return home to cold weather. Glad you enjoyed some sunshine!

Rob K said...

Hi, Bijoux! Yes, I'm just coming to terms with how much my father suffered during the war.

No one talked about mental health in his day and all these veterans were expected to just come home and resume their lives as if nothing had haopened.

The sunshine was great and thanks for brightening up my blog!

Jay said...

That sounds so much fun!! So glad to hear that your Uncle Joe had a good time for a landmark birthday.

It also sounds a lot like my Mum's 80th birthday. We actually hired a hall for it and it was packed. She had such a great time! And so did all the uncles, aunts, cousins, ex-colleagues and friends & neighbours. It made me wonder if there'd be enough people to fill a hall when I got to that age. Somehow, I doubt it, because I'm just not the social animal that Mum was.

Rob K said...

Hey, Jay, what do you say? I love how you talk about your Mum, so it doesn't surprise me that she packed the house.

And don't sell yourself short about your own landmark birthday. I'm sure plenty of people will turn out.

Hell, I'll definitely go--if they let me out of the loony bin!