Were I to write my epitaph, it would read, “She lived a charmed life.” Those who have only known of me might not agree — but those who’ve known me well, would.
Consider this as evidence of that.
August often stifles New York, as it did forty years ago, with temperatures so high and rain so scarce a brownout swept over all five boroughs, leaving the city sweltering in virtual darkness from dusk until dawn.
We were living in Bensonhurst by then, renting the upper two floors of a 1925 three story duplex; a stucco, fort-like house located on a tree-lined street between Avenues O and P, not far from a rumored underboss residence. It was a neighborhood where no one locked their doors at night and old-country madonnas garbed in basic-black sat in fold-out lawn chairs on cement sidewalks, waiting for the intense fragrances of Sicilian sausage, fennel seed biscotti, and basil-based sauces to waft through their kitchen windows, signaling meals had simmered to perfection and were ready for serving.
Our home’s private entrance had four steps up to the front door. Once inside there was another seven steps up to the hallway landing leading to a bedroom, living room, dining room, and bathroom, with a second flight of stairs to two more bedrooms. A doorway leading off the dining room opened to an eat-in kitchen. Another opened from the living room onto a second floor veranda stretching 25 feet long and 15 feet deep, with a 4-foot high wall leveling off just below the treetops.
We loved that place and porch, especially in August when sleeping outside beat the heat of the house by thirty degrees, and the starlit sky with its dreamsicle moon overhead was about as romantic as any heart could wish for, or mind could imagine.
It was after 10 one night when we were out there, lying on army surplus canvas and wood framed cots, listening to the neighbors battery operated radios synchronized to Casey Kasem naming, And I Love You So, by America’s favorite barber as “holding at 38” on the Top 40 charts when we heard a knock on the door and Liz called out, “Who’s there?”
“I’m looking for Marge,” came a baritone response.
“Who are you?”
“Are you Irish?”
“Then the door’s open. Come on up.”
At the time, I was still recovering from a crash that left me chronically disabled the year before. As predicted, I’d regained my ability to walk, but still needed a wheelchair or walker, occasionally, and a cane, always. As I struggled up and into a lightweight, summer robe, Liz donned hers and, with a Coleman lantern in tow, greeted the fellow, leading him out onto the porch, and offering him a seat at the fold-out card table stationed there for Canasta and Hearts competitions whenever family or friends visited. Then she excused herself to get us all some iced lemonade while I tried to read his face by candlelight.
I liked what I saw. Mike Kelly had a crinkle-eyed smile plastered to his super-sized mug, with a pencil mustache complementing his noggin of silky grey hair.
“I’m sorry to bother you so late,” he began, “but you never contacted us. I had to take the Long Island Railroad from Port Washington after work and two subways — then got lost while walking here from the El.
“Why should I have contacted you, Mr. Kelly?”
“Didn’t you get our telegram about winning Publisher’s Clearing House?”
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019
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Did you ever with a sweepstakes, contest, or anything at all? How did it affect your life?
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I’m all eyes and heart.
Fun, isn’t it Michelle? Thanks!
Love this story Marguerite and that you won Publishers Sweepstakes – Cheers to you!!
A very charmed life.. and not the least of which is your lovely Liz. You two never fail to bring me a smile, and when we sit at our computers and I let out a little giggle, the wife will inevitably reply, “She said, She said? Read it to me.” We love it! Thanks for coming into my life.
What nicer words can a writer read than the joy of yours, Leigh? None, to be sure. Thank you. And, yes. Liz is a dream come true in endless reruns. Our best to you and yours!
I love how you tell a story. Please keep writing them.
Thanks, Sherry. I’ll do my best to never disappoint you.
For you, the world, Carrie! Thanks so very much.
I absolutely love the way you tell a story! Smart, funny and thoroughly enthralling! I may have seen your commercials, though I was in the Air Force at the time and watched little TV. Keep sharing these wonderful tales, please!
Sending you an iKiss for that, Layce.
(Make that two!)
We are so different. I think we couldn’t be more different if we tried. And yet, you were able to strike a chord in me with your words that made me feel as if I were you. That is your gift. That you can write the universal words that hum inside us all. xoxo
I cannot adequately express how very happy I am for you Maf. Thank you for sharing that with me. May all the stars in the sky wink for you two tonight, and every night henceforth, to infinity and beyond!
A Charmed Life indeed. Perhaps that explains your ability to tell a story that others want to share. You were charmed in your survival. You were charmed in discovering the love of your life at an early age and being able to share decades with said love. The check from PCH and a touch of fame almost forty years ago isn’t the most interesting thing about you. The fact that you can entertain others with that story and make us feel like we were sitting with you on that porch is what I find thoroughly charming.
As for me…well I’ve recently won the heart of a wonderful woman. That has made me happier than anyone has a right to be. I’m a very lucky woman and I don’t know where things will go but I know we’ll both have fun getting there together.
Thank you Breeghn. It’s nice knowing you’re there! I’ll try never to disappoint you. By the way, you have a swell name!
Amazing! Were it charmed or not, I love reading about your life. I always end up telling my husband the whole story of yours, every time I read one.. You are an interesting person and I am glad to get to read about your charmed life. 🙂
Thanks, Cathy. I sometimes wonder if others consider – if one has survived trauma, or overcome misfortune, that person is living a charmed life. One need only consider the alternatives to understand how charmed it truly is.
as I’ve said before, you just make me smile…what a great story and…congratulations!!!!! years later….
Then we know where our energies mixed, Jen, and how we found each other in the scheme of things. Albeit, considering the differences in our ages, I’m betting if anyone saw me in your household it was your folks.
Indeed you have lived a charmed life – and (at that time) within walking distance from where I grew up in Brooklyn. Wish I could say I remember you from the commercial, but I was probably plopped in front of PBS for all of 1974.
This story touched my heart. My Grandmother was big into playing the Publisher’s Clearing House, and as a young girl I use to watch her get her entries ready. As she aged, I would help prepare the entry forms while she supervised, making sure I did it just so. Now 50 myself, I have continued to play and submit my entries without fail. Even spending a small fortune in stamps and having born the brunt of teasing over the many years…lol!! I don’t really do it so much for hopes of winning big, although let’s be honest it would be wonderful, but I’ve continued to do it in memory of my Grandmother….who always believed. Can’t imagine not playing.
Oh, she too was very Irish!
You’re the reason writers write, Terry. And aren’t I the lucky one to have you reading me! Thank you.
It’s a lovely tribute you show to your grandmother – and I’m certain her spirit remains all the more alive in you because of it.
Me, too, Jeanne, although they already have. Right here and for now. And I’m sure glad of that! Thanks.
very nice. Boy, I was right there with you. Different city, different state, but fond memories, nonetheless. You’re a trooper! I hope, one day, our paths cross.