You know, today really drove home to me for perhaps the first time in my life how wise the Irish are to stage an Irish Wake at the death of someone. Celebrate that person’s life. Because although all day long today I have not been tippling anything, somehow the floodgates opened with memories of Mark and I have laughed so much; its been as though I’m 20 years old again, I can see all of them so vividly in their house in Metairie, Shirley not yet in her fifties; Mark; Jan; Carol; myself. Their dogs. Mark and I used to go to movies together; I suppose we were more like cousins than Aunt and nephew although there were times when I demanded he call me Aunt Jeanne to receive one of his famous looks. With Mark, back then as a young man, there was always High Drama. I honestly think he was more of a Drama Queen than I was. I remember one winter’s evening going over for a visit to be met by Shirley who was outdone. She and Mark had an argument and she told me he was in his room packing his things because he was leaving, he had enough. Now Mark was in school and didn’t have two pennies of his own to rub together. “What’s he going to do to live, ” I asked Shirley. “Jeanne, please go in there and talk to him.” I knocked on his door and sure enough he was packing all his belongings angrily but he put his head when he saw me and got very sheepish. “Mark,” I said,” Shirley tells me your leaving.” I remember he said, “that’s right, Zsa (that’s what he called me).” I said, “Mark what are you gonna live on? Come on, man, calm down, you can’t leave. It can’t be that bad.” No he was leaving, for certain and he would find a way to make it on your on. I just looked at him and saw a smile starting to play about his mouth although he wouldn’t look me in the eye. I had a feeling the recalcitrant spell was passing and just walked out the room. I felt he had been grandstanding somewhat. It was funny. When he joined us for dinner a little later, Shirley asked him if needed help to unpack. He went nowhere. But what a spectacle it had been.
I’m suddenly remembering these days with all the warmth of Autumn happiness; I remember Shirley had bought this God-awful print to hang in their den, on purpose. It was a line drawing of three ostriches. She always pointed it out by saying, “that’s Mark, Jan and Carol, all with their heads in the sand!” All three of her children did not get the Frois darkness; all three were very fair, with Mark being the fairest, like their father. Didn’t realize until today what a rich, rich time it was.