I text my niece Claire more often than I talk to her. She’s in San Antonio, in her first year of marriage, on her first real out of college job, and in training for the Beach to Bay relay race. Very cool.
I keep up with my oldest granddaughter Nina via her Twitter messages. She tweets often so I know her opinions about parents who can’t control their children in the GameStop where she works as A.M. By reading her tweets you would not know she’s a tiny girl who looks 10 years younger than 23 (sorry, Nina).
Savanna, my middle granddaughter, is way too cool for a gaga, but I keep up with her via FB and her mother. She got all the Sicilian genes in the family because she is the tallest woman in our family, taller in fact than most of the men. She’s has a quiet but deadly, sly sense of humor and her hugs keep me warm for days.
These are three of Jack’s women. His cousin and two older nieces. They aren’t the only women who were significant in his life. My friend Bill’s daughter, Mary reminded me how close she was to Jack when she posted on FB a special memory of him: I was getting an ice for my soda yesterday and thought of you. I’m still not big on ice in my drinks because you pointed out how the ice just makes them watery (and besides, if its from a soda fountain, its cold anyway). I clutch the memories of you to my heart and run through the reel of them daily. They’ve become soft and familiar like a well loved blanket. I don’t want to say goodbye.. I think she was his first true outside the family girl friend; they met when he was 11 and she was 10.
It’s truly impossible to list all the women who touched his life, who were touched by his life. Georgie, Mary Helen, and I are obviously singed by his death, but Claire mentioned that she was having a rough day last week because of Jack. She wrote in a text that “It’s just everyone has a childhood best friend and I lost mine.” I didn’t think about that. When I turned over that statement I recognized the truth of that for Nina and Savanna, too. He might be their uncle, but he was also their good friend, partner in crime.
On his birthday, Nina wrote: today would’ve been the 23rd birthday of one of the most important people in my life. And there isn’t a day that goes by that he isn’t on my mind. So happy birthday to J.D. “Jack” Russo! we all miss and love him.
I have to remind myself that I am not the only one who feels deserted by his death. It’s easy to let grief isolate me, unique myself into sick thinking.
I was in line at the bank drive through today when the teller asked me if I have a son named J.D. When I told her yes, I set off an overjoyed reply as she told me that he was in elementary and middle school with her, that he was so much fun, that she lost track of him when her parents divorced and she moved with her mom. “Give him my number, ok? I can’t wait to catch up with him. He’s so crazy! I just love him!”
She was so bubbly and happy that I hated to tell her that he had died. I wanted to lie but knew that wasn’t possible. I thought how funny he would make the re-telling of his death over the bank teller intercom, the looks of horror on the faces of the poor girl and her co-worker when I burst into tears, the surreptitious glances of the people in adjacent cars when they couldn’t pretend not to eavesdrop on the exchange.
Jack always said that there was nothing in this world that didn’t have some humor in it. He looked for it in all things. In my sadness this afternoon, I could see the bank scene cast in Jack’s movie.
It made me smile. And I wished the one person who would appreciate the story were here to listen to it.