Today is my cousin Jody Rosenblum’s birthday. Dubbing herself my “older and wiser cousin” many years ago, she has been my go-to girl for all manner of adolescent and adult angsts. Her guidance is always grounded, solid, spiritual and often tinged with the Weinstein/Weiner humor gene. Her mother Jeanette and my father Moish were brother and sister whose bond lasts long into the Beyond where they both dwell. My aunt died when Jody was 20 and I was 18, after a long battle with cancer. That influenced her career choice as a social worker, who now serves in hospice, providing comfort for folks in the end stages of their lives, as well as their families and friends. She really is good at it. She and her husband Rich, who I actutally knew through social activism circles before he knew Jody, have raised two amazing young men, Aaron and Dan who are socially conscious and do right livelihood work in the world. She has every right to ‘kvell’ (Yiddish for ‘bursting with pride’) over these guys.
We often acknowlege that even if we weren’t related, we would have chosen each other as friends and that we are more similar to each other than we are with our own sisters. We live in the same area and people often ask me if she and I are family, since there is a resemblance. When we were growing up, we spent a fair amount of time together. She and her sister Renee were raised in Northeast Philly and when my sister Jan and I would visit, it felt to me, like a magical place. There were a few steps up to the rowhome and once I entered the front door into the vestibule and faced the other door that led into the living room, we would pretend an elevator was taking us up there. The wall length closets felt like an entrance to another dimension, their stall shower in the upstairs bathroom was the first I had ever seen. The alley behind the house was where we would play hopscotch for what would seem like hours. Remembering treats of cherry flavored ice pops and cookies made by her grandmother (her father’s mother) who was called ‘Cookie Bubbe’ for her culinary talents.
We lived together for a year in our twenties; sharing an apartment in West Collingswood, NJ, along with her cat Shayna who would awaken us at night sometimes to the sound of licking and chewing paper. Nightgown dances in the living room to the more pleasant sounds of, I am guessing 60’s Woodstock era music, being silly over who knows what? More recently, we go to music fests, take walks occasionally with her four leggeds, hang out in Doylestown, catch up in between visits and keep each other relatively sane and vertical in the midst of life stuff happening. I treasure my relationship with my cuz and am grateful that we got born into the same goofy family. Happy Birthday Hugs and Smooches!
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIRtrR7LW7g Happy Birthday by Tom Chapin