“We could be millionaires. You and me.” Said Juliette to Bob. “We could be millionaires.”
My husband’s family is so small, that there are few of the close relatives left. Juliette is close. She is his father’s first cousin living now in Florida. She and Joe were two years a part, Juliette being the older and wiser. They grew up together for many years when young. She was the trouble maker of them two, always got Joe accused of mischief if ever she got away with it. “I lit the kitchen in fire.” She now admits. The entire family, grandparents and uncles and aunts lived in the same apartment building or at least close by. It was very common way back when in Manhattan.
Juliette and Joe were as close as siblings. They called each others every Sunday at ten o’clock to change the news and check on each other. But they barely visited each other in their last decades. Now when my husband’s father is gone, we inherited the contact part of this. We try to visit her at least once, twice a year. We book a hotel, stay with her all afternoon after she wakes up, sometimes till ten at night. We have a cup of coffee or a sandwich, and we chat.
Juliette is now 96 years old and can tell a story like no-one. She has humor and she has her wits. But she is alone. 24 hours nurses stay with her in her apartment and she is tired of having strangers in her home. “They don’t know who I am. They don’t care about my stories.” She says, we understand, we know the names and we know the family, and totally enjoy what we hear. And give the nurse hours off while we are there. Just a few years back she still went grocery shopping and we had hard time keeping up with her!
Their grandma owned some land on Manhattan, the lot where New York Hospital now stands and a lot under Manhattan Bridge. But she had a gambler for a son, Archie. Everything in the family stories always went “…Oh, but Uncle Archie…!” Wheeling and dealing was his specialty. His mother cave money and land and what ever he needed as lateral. He was the favorite son. And he lost it all. There are many stories like that.
So if it wasn’t for Uncle Archie, we could be millionaires.
“But you can’t miss what you never had.” Says Juliette.