Won't you be my neighbor? Oh please won't you be...

I was talking to Nancy about what you would be saying during all this. I was transported to some a moment in time. A moment I don’t even know if it really happened. It’s mid-day, around 530-6, you are driving me to some practice. I want to say basketball practice at the hall in Old Folcroft. I told Nancy I had this vision of us driving by and seeing her, doing something in her front lawn, you slowly pull up, say something like, “look at this bitch and her plantation…”And Nancy replying back, “oh you know what Malin…..” hahahah. I can hear her voice. I can hear your voice. Maybe both of you with poofy 80’s/90’s do’s. Of course we were driving some beater. Probably the Caprice Classic with the felt seats and scabbed brown paint. I can see you chatting with her, “saying, I gotta drive the prince to practice…” I would typically just say Hi and then be silent, minding my own business while you guys caught up. Some quip about the street, the neighborhood, who is doing what, who moved out, who moved in, what was the latest business they put in up the street. I said to her, “ that’s my heaven, that time in my life, growing up in Folcroft on that street…” While no one would ever be a fan of any vices, I can smell the smoke as your arm is hanging out the window. I now you probably worked that day or probably running around and chasing the girls. So you had to drop me off and rush home, still on your feet and make dinner for everyone. Those practices there were never fun. I never enjoyed them or playing basketball during that time. A sport I forced myself to play and like. I guess it never came natural to me. That’s fine. I remember if Jason and I would finish practice, I would hang out at their place and you would come and pick me up or I would walk home. I remember walking home alone a few times. I would walk past the pool at night. You never knew what might be watching you during that walk and behind the old Pathmark. I remember I would look over my back so many times. In a way, I wasn’t afraid of something happening. I was more anxious thinking something could happen. I remember I would get into the parking lot, lights dimming, stores mostly closed except for the pizza place. I would have my sweats and my 49ers Starter jacket on. It would be cold and sweaty on the inside. My face would be red and rough. I think these were the most peaceful times in my life aside from playing baseball. Those walks. I was alone. I never had anything to worry about. Just getting home and getting warm. I remember walking into the house. Typically just a hi and go up to my room. I can see that happening in my head, over, and over, and over. All the practices and games, baseball, football, hockey, basketball, deck hockey, college, wooden bat; over and over and over. I can see your face as I come through those doors. Still in my head that meeting is silent. For all that I talked since I left the house, I think I was more silent and maybe quite somber most of the time. Wondering where life was going. Wondering where our lives were going. Not realizing then, what was really happening during those times and how I would never get those years back once they were gone in an instant. I guess many people can say the same if they grew up in a house with many people. I wish part of me could’ve stopped all that. Stopped and asked you, maybe just laughed, asked you what you thought of your life. Just in a funny sort of way. Like hey, how’s life going? Such open ended question….with a myriad of endless answers and wormholes. Through all of this stuff the last few years, asking how you’re doing is as important now, as it has ever been. I laugh, thinking of you with the Deli bitches you worked with at Manoa. You and Ann Foley and Nicole cracking up at “how are youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?” I don’t have that laughter or joy in my job. I most likely never will enjoy any times I work, but such is life. I admire you for enjoying something you did with such heart and such determination. I know you were able to cope and get through the tough times at work. In some ways, maybe like others work can sometimes blind you to the outside world or the stark reality of life. After not even taking my full bereavement when you passed, it was work that took my mind off the complete spiral I was on from your death. I got those days back and more. I will keep putting myself first over work. I am worth it. I miss seeing you at work. Your short frame popping out above the deli or bakery counter. Your white deli smock or coat. The black, white and green super fresh shirts that would get oh so cruddy. I wonder if all the time you were making money, you were happy knowing it was going to us. Your selflessness is something I don’t believe I will ever master. I miss seeing the cakes you made. I miss those treats. I miss the joy you got from cooking. Ironically the last meal we shared together was at the Erin. I’m not mad about that. I had a hard time the other night. I don’t think I will ever forget what you said to me that night. I may have written it before, but I am going to keep it to myself. It just makes me so so sad. So sad at how you felt. I am happy we had that conversation in person. I knew that 988 was no longer my home, but you are our home, and wherever you are, is where our home is. Miss you dearly Mom. Bobby


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