Learning to attach a “toad” (towed-vehicle) to the back of an RV has me thinking about connections, and by extension, the ultimate “hook up”—maintaining the romance of early love over the course of a marriage that spans six and a half decades—the most important and passionate of recreational vehicles.
So, below is the beginning of my Godparents’ 64-year story, one my Madrina (Spanish for “Godmother”) has reminisced about often while we’ve traveled this summer.
I’m also including photos of:
- Our stay in Mackinaw City;
- Our visit to Mackinac Island;
- Our trip to Tahquamenon Falls;
- Our brunch with New York bloggers Virginia and Jackie;
- Our reunion with old friends Jacqueline and Danny;
- Our attaching Madrina’s SUV to the rear of the RV, as we were leaving Michigan.
Loving a Venezuelan Bull Fighter
When he was a teenager, my Godfather ran away to become a bull fighter. A “novillero,” he took on only baby bulls, before being injured and going on to become a South American movie star. My Godmother was like any other girl in 1950; she fell in love with a red-caped crusader, a handsome, dancing one with a crooner voice.
“Don’t think you’re going to marry a Venezuelan bull fighter!” Her father shook a forbidding finger in my Godmother’s face. Then, cultured Americans who’d attended New England boarding schools didn’t marry bull fighters, not even bull fighters turned movie stars, turned Spanish dancers. She was supposed to marry a doctor or lawyer. It didn’t matter that he was a reformed bull fighter who came to New York to record for RCA Victor.
“But I did marry him,” my Godmother, a Flamenco dancer her entire professional life, mused a few weeks ago. And their partnership on and off the stage endured nearly six and a half decades—until my Godfather died recently. Sick for only a few days, he was gone in an instant.
Over the past year, I’ve recognized the echo of lost things when I’ve spoken with my Madrina. Her tone has been tired, a voice coming to me a continent away. Skype seemed to lessen the distance between me in Ecuador and her in South Florida, but it didn’t collapse time. “There’s not an app for that,” my friend Miranda likes to say.
Death reminds us how important time is. But herein lies the problem. When a romance born in another era is lost in this one, it’s all the more painful. It’s brutal to end a partnership that lasts so long. And no matter the technology that connects me to my Godmother now, no arms are long enough to bridge that ultimate distance. No VOIP can erase this sorrow. Only when my Godmother tells me how their love began in a New York theater so many ages ago, does her healing begin. Since we use language to mark our way through time, we need memory to make sense of loss. We need narrative. Now only stories connect us, only that kind of recollection clarifies my Godparents’ relationship to one another and my relationship to them—narrative, a “hook up” that allows us to make sense of relationships and what it means to disconnect when the ultimate loss severs it.
My Godmother’s cousin Terri joined us for a few days in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
Madrina had laryngitis the day we were scheduled to visit Mackinac Island, so Terri and I took the ferry to this charmingly carless island in Lake Huron. There we enjoyed a horse and buggy tour that stopped at the Grand Hotel, the setting for the movie Somewhere in Time.
Though she wasn’t feeling well, my nearing-ninety Godmother managed the many stairs down to the falls.
Brunch with New York Bloggers
When Sara and I got married in Manhattan two years ago, bloggers Virginia (of Lame Adventures) and Jacqueline Cangro were our witnesses. It was fun to introduce my Godmother to them; we were just sorry Sara couldn’t be there.
Reunion with Jacqueline and Danny
In 1986, I started teaching at an Oklahoma university, the same month Jacqueline, who considers my Godparents her “second parents,” began dancing with the Tulsa Ballet. Two years later I was a bride’s maid, when she married actor Danny Rutigliano.
Attaching the car to the RV
How are your attachments this summer? Any interesting “hook ups” in your life?
To read part 1 of this series, click here. To check out part 2, click here.
Sorry to turn off comments on this post. Since our internet connections have been so intermittent, I have still not had a chance to respond to your lovely responses to my last post. I hope to catch up before I turn comments back on.
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