If you walked in the door right now, I don’t know if I’d run and hug you hard, or if you’d seem like a stranger now.
I’d like to think that I’d hug you. I’d like to think that I’d bury my face into your chest and you’d smell like your old cologne–which kind, I can’t remember. I was too young, barely a pre-teen, the night we got the call. But I know you’d laugh and hug me back, saying in your exaggerated Italian style, “Hey, what’s all the commotion?” And I’d just look at you in awe, studying every feature of your face and burning it into memory.
This time, I wouldn’t forget.
I’m imagining you wearing your purple tank top with the yellow letters that said JIMMAYS. The letters were worn but it was your favorite shirt. You’d have your gold chain on, too, or maybe your silver wizard necklace. Yes, most definitely your silver wizard necklace. You’d be clean shaven like you were the time we tried to go to church on Easter–but missed mass because we forgot to change the clocks. Instead, we grabbed an ice cream cone and cruised around Pennsylvania’s dirt roads, observing the spring blossoms and discussing what my life would soon be like as a high-schooler. (Hint: + boys, – pants = bad)
You’d be wearing your “spectacles,” as you jokingly called them, and you’d look everything a proper stud. You’d definitely be wearing your moccasins, and your faded “dungarees.” Your style was chic sports hunter–clearly all the rage back in the 90’s. (Sweet trout tee-shirt, man.) I can picture your hands–your fingers were short and thick, but manly and authoritative. I’ve seen others with similar fingers, from time to time, and I can’t help but stare.
Your motto was everything in moderation, and you certainly meant it…particularly when it came to working too much. Closing down the barber shop to go fishing and do what you wanted. I got that from you. Well, maybe not the fishing, so much…but does shoe shopping count?
Some people never take time out to enjoy. I‘m glad you did. I know mom would nag at you about it–but, I‘m glad you did. Your customers would even nag you about it, but I‘m glad you did. You never know how much time you’re going to have–you didn’t know, and it turned out to be less than you thought. Fifty eight. I‘m so glad you did. In the name of enjoyment–in the name of living. For every afternoon you spent in the Delaware river, lazily casting your line….to every evening you spent watching movies with me, and trying to convince me to dip my pretzels in vanilla ice cream. (I still don’t, by the way.)
I’m so glad you did.
Someday, I hope to be as memorable as you. As loved as you were. You were the life of the party–“Mother Ambirge,” as your friends would joke with you. Everyone was always so happy when you showed up–everyone waited to have the main event–the lighting of the cake, the setting off of fireworks, the toast of the night–until Jimmy got there. And there I was right next to you, your little sidekick, always in awe of your presence. It filled the room. There were always jokes. Always laughter. Always, “Remember the time when’s?” And always the notion that life was meant to be lived.
I think you’d be proud of me–you’d probably tell me to work less, for christ’s sake, but you’d be wildly proud. Hell, all I had to do to impress you in middle school was win the infamously generic student of the month. You wore every single school pin I ever received on your vest–and I know you tortured your customers who would come in for haircuts, telling them endless stories of what a good kid I was. I used to pretend to be embarrassed by your praise–but secretly, I craved it.
I liked being a good kid. I liked being your good kid. And, I guess this Christmas, I just want to let you know that I still am.
Good, and yours.