I’ve always been exceptionally interested in philosophy. Epistemology is the study of knowledge, including memory. No two people remember the same circumstances in the same way and no one remembers something in the same way each successive time. Throughout the course of my lifetime, I’ve always been quite smitten with memories of very long ago. I seem to have quite a utopian, Garden-of-Eden ish relationship with the long ago past. A good example of this is in a conversation I had a few years ago with my cousin Gary’s daughter Tina. Gary grew up in Queens and his wife Maria is from Brooklyn. Their kids, Joseph and Tina, lived in Brooklyn until they were twelve and ten years old. Tina told me they were so crazy about Brooklyn because they were from there. I’ve always said the same thing about Queens, having lived there until my twelfth birthday. The more I’ve thought it over since then, though, the more I’ve recognized that it wouldn’t have been the same if I could have been lucky enough to have lived there throughout my entire lifetime. The everyday practical realities of life there would have made it impossible to recognize significantly the good things. The present tense is filled with boring, ordinary chores and habits. What is fr
esh, by definition, will inevitably become stale with time. That’s why each of us always complains about his being taken for granted. Nothing and no one ever truly satisfies. The faraway past, though, precisely because it’s no longer available, can be quite intoxicating. Pop culture is yet another example of how I tend to see the distant past. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always thought of the 1960’s as the most interesting time frame of all, and that’s only possible precisely because of their never having been available to me in the present tense. I was born in 1959. Besides that, the older I get the more easily I’m able to recognize all the interesting things that were going on during my youth. Recent vivid memories can be especially nice but they lack the property of availability to the imagination. Memories from a bygone era are literally representative of another world entirely. It’s like everything I’ve ever heard and read about good literature. A good literary work should tell a sufficient amount of the story, yet at the same time it should leave enough available in order that the reader may put himself into the story and imagine more than the author provides. The distant past, unlike the recent past, makes that possible too. I’m a bookworm for the same reason I enjoy the distant past. It allows my imagination to wander into a world that’s otherwise entirely unavailable.
This year Groundhog Day fell on a Sunday. It’s also the Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple so I went to 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Isle on Park Avenue. That specific day also happened to have marked two other very distinctive occasions for us. It was also Super Bowl Sunday. This year was Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. That’s also the day each year during which the local members of the Polar Bear Club have their annual fund raiser in Long Beach, to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. After Mass I came back to Mary Anne’s and Steve’s house to find cousin Mark here. He and Steve were hanging around getting ready for the big day over at the boardwalk. Each of us put his bathing suit on and after a few shots of Jameson’s Irish whiskey , that seems to have become quite a staple for us by now on special occasions, we went, with Mary Anne’s friend Lynn, to the beach at the boardwalk. On the way we met another friend of theirs, Liz, who comes from Brooklyn each year to join them. Because of bitter cold weather and precipitation over the course of the past few days, and a very foggy morning, it was quite a surprisingly nice day, although horribly cold. Everyone had a nice time and the Polar Bears made quite a lot of money for the Make A Wish Foundation. As always, though I was seriously aggravated by all the endless walking.
The Fourth of July went so well this year. As always we ended up visiting my father’s relatives in Hilldale for a few days. The weather was perfect for anyone who enjoys the heat. Most of the kin showed up. Mary Anne and Steve, as well as Michael, Sam and Bridget, were here. Unfortunately, though, Erin wasn’t available. My mother still has lots of trouble with her cancer so she couldn’t go. Each of us took turns staying with her. I was especially happy to see Maelene, Joe and most of their family from North Tonawanda, and Vinnie from North Carolina, as well as Larry, Rose & their family from Massapequa. Anthony showed up from Brooklyn too. An inevitable reality of this occasion is the incessant reminiscing. Predictably we all got together & relived our past circumstances, especially the kin’s obnoxious references to all my supposedly bad driving. We also celebrated relevant birthdays and anniversaries. Rich, the Ronald’s son, got me an especially nice poster of Beatle Ringo Starr. Alas there was no softball game but I don’t play anyway. One night several of the cousins went to Friendly’s but I didn’t go. I was too tired. Unfortunately we didn’t go to Jitty Joe’s. Michael and I made sure we got our traditional cigars though. Music, religion and politics, and current events provided much conversation. I spent lots of time in the pool so I made sure I pot on lots of sun screen. The lay Carmelite meetings have been going well lately in Wilkes Barre, at the Little Flower Manor. So have Fr. McKernan’s men’s group meetings at Our Lady of Sorrows. Recently Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church at St. Joseph Marello Parish, on William Street in Pittston had their annual bizarre. I made sure I spent around an hour there each night. It was a very nice time. My mother still needs a lot of medical attention but we’re keeping track of it well. Aunt Lauren, Uncle Frankie and Fran come over fairly frequently and Mary Anne and family come in whenever they can.