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I met my inner child on Thursday, three days after my dad passed away.

Exhausted from grief, the sadness of loss and preparations for his service, my sister and I took a ride to my Grandmother’s house in Brooklyn. We passed the train station where my teenage uncles Lenny & Pap would pick me up, and make the call, “Put the hot iron straightening comb on the stove, we’ve got her!’ Where one of them would inevitably reach up into the ice cream vending machine for a Good Humor bar and hand it to me with pride. The train station where my mom would make the pass off, leaving the country girl in the dead center of Bed Stuy for some wild summer family times.

When we turned the corner to the old house, I couldn’t believe that was the same block. But upon seeing the house it all came flooding back. Double dutch, the ice cream truck, more kids than I could fathom living on one block. I felt like a giant physically, but my heart instantly the size of a little girl’s — even more gigantic… As the memories flooded in, we ran from the car like the children we once were and had almost forgotten.

There, in front of the house, was a little girl on her bike, as puzzled as we were excited, watching with wide eyes.

“When we were your age, our Grandparents used to live here!”

Having been let in on the secret, she said, “I’m seven.” I introduced myself, suspecting that my Dad had sent her to us to remind us just how open our hearts were when we lived on that block… and she said, “My name is Star.”

I was convinced.

The house was so quiet it seemed abandoned compared to what we knew, so we behaved like it was still ours… Star took a photo of us and I took a photo of her on the steps and we ran around reminiscing.  Star watching with a smile.

 Sitting on the railing on the porch, I looked in my reflection and saw myself  as I had the last morning I spent in Mama’s house… my hair pulled so tightly I couldn’t blink.

“I was so glad to get out of Michelle’s grasp I didn’t even look in the mirror! But then I got down here and saw this HUGE ten inch cone on top of my head and went running for Mama! Mama, make Michelle take it out! Michelle was so mad!”

 Peeking into the cloudy window to see my Uncle Larry’s apartment, I saw people! Which sent us running with the fear Lenny used to put us into with the scary stories of the graveyard at the end of the block. Out of breath and still giggling, we rounded the corner, graveyard on the left, teenagers on the stoop… Star watching us from her bike back in front of Mama’s stoop…

Yesterday, in the church that my great grandparents were married in… the one I walked all the way to with Mama in her little white hat with her little white purse, on that really hot morning in the Brooklyn summer heat, the one I remember all too clearly from the second row from the back, one seat in from the aisle, left side of the center orchestra…  I sat in the front row, between my two sisters, with over a hundred members of my family, I said goodbye to my Dad and became an adult.

Now what? Go back to my roots I suppose…

Palace Salon

I met my inner child on Thursday, three days after my dad passed away.

Exhausted from grief, the sadness of loss and preparations for his service, my sister and I took a ride to my Grandmother’s house in Brooklyn. We passed the train station where my teenage uncles Lenny & Pap would pick me up, and make the call, “Put the hot iron straightening comb on the stove, we’ve got her!’ Where one of them would inevitably reach up into the ice cream vending machine for a Good Humor bar and hand it to me with pride. The train station where my mom would make the pass off, leaving the country girl in the dead center of Bed Stuy for some wild summer family times.

When we turned the corner to the old house, I couldn’t believe that was the same block. But upon seeing the house it all came…

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3 thoughts on “Roots in Stardust

  1. Rachel,
    The last time I caught up with your dad he spoke of a wonderful daughter who lived in Woodstock and who “could really write” indeed you can. We were having some lunch and catching up on old times, I had originally met him in the early 70’s in London and we stayed in touch through all the years! I stumbled across your writing by accident when looking for information on his memorial. I had wanted to go but am now living in Mexico. Thank you for your wonderful words of comfort and your ability to share so beautifully how these past days have been for you. I don’t know you but I know Richie was so proud of you and now I understand exactly why.
    Jenny

  2. Pingback: Richie Havens & Daughter | Steele Park

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