On this day in 2009, our lives were in flux. We had recently decided to move from Long Island to Texas, a decision that did not sit well with my son who was in first grade at the time. Already feeling emotional about our move, I had to sit him down when he got home from school to break the news that his great-grandmother had passed away suddenly. It was his first experience with death, and he was understandably devastated.
My grandmother passed away in her mid-90’s. Thankfully, my family and I were able to make it to the last birthday that she ever celebrated. It was also the last time that she would have the entire family together before her passing. If ever there was a time to believe in “Divine Intervention” – this was it.
The birthday gathering took place in my grandmother’s apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She lived her entire life in the neighborhood known today for cool music and dive bars, although it wasn’t always that way. In between what it became and what it was many years ago, the neighborhood went through some pretty sketchy years. But my grandmother never even considered leaving the only place that she ever called home. This sweet, little old lady that was loved by all who knew her walked unfazed through the New York City streets her entire life.
One of the only things that ever worried her is whether Little One would ever speak. It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when we couldn’t get her to communicate. It wasn’t long after my grandmother’s passing that the floodgates opened, and Little One became a wall of sound and an endless source of entertainment. My grandmother would have been so happy to experience her great-granddaughter today.
While driving home today after shopping, my son asked if he ever had anything really bad happen to him because he has friends who have gone through some very tough times. My wife brought up our move to Texas and subsequent move back to New York. Wise beyond his years, he pointed out that he’s had a really good life so far. I saw no reason to bring up the fact that today is the anniversary of his great-grandmother’s passing.
Thankfully, the moves that we’ve made have left both of my kids none the worse for wear. Things aren’t perfect, but we have a great home life, especially since getting “back in the New York Groove.” As Cinderella sang – in their classic hit from 1988 – you “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone).” It didn’t take long to realize that Texas was never going to feel like home. Just like my grandmother, my kids were meant to be New Yorkers.
On the anniversary of her passing, I dedicate Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove” to the woman who was a true New Yorker through and through…