Monday, June 14, 2004


It was always the cards that stuck with me.

Every time we would leave for the drive to her University City apartment, I knew the plastic pilot wings and a deck of cards would be waiting.

We'd lie on the floor - my brother Mike, my grandmother Dorothy (but she'll always be Mimi) and me. We'd play Go Fish, War and Old Maid, drink Cokes and talk until Mom or Dad came to pick us up.

And Mimi would always have a deck of cards ready for us. To this day, I can't pick one up without thinking of those days.

We celebrated her 90th birthday on Sunday. Friends and family met for a brunch; a rare occurence these days, given the distances (physical and emotional) and the way that everyone's lives seem to be flying along faster than a bullet train.

She was born before World War I - Woodrow Wilson was the President, survived the Great Depression, met my grandfather, converted to Judaism, made it through World War II, lost my grandfather and raised two children alone while running the buying department for several department stores in the area - without a high school diploma.

Even without that piece of paper, she's one of the most intelligent people I've ever met; she has a sharp wit and she's forgotten more than I'll ever know. She knows the city streets from memory better than I do - and I've lived here for the past two years.

Nowadays, her knee hurts when she walks, and her vision is failing. But she still can talk baseball with the best of 'em, and she tells us wonderful stories of growing up in her old North City neighborhood along with stories of my mother when she was growing up.

Even though she may have lost a step or two physically, she's still sharper at 90 than most people at 30. She still knows exactly what to say and when to say it.

So happy birthday, Mimi, and here's to many, many more.

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