Saturday, June 12, 2010

the story of ann

Every story has an ending. Every life is made up of thousands of little stories. I'd like to tell a few stories about Ann and me.

She was my cousin. When I was a baby she was a little girl. When I was a little girl she was a teenager. We didn't really get to know each other until I was at art school, at Parsons, in New York. At our cousin Barbara's wedding Ann invited me to come visit her in D.C. I jumped at the chance to get away from my Brooklyn railroad apartment and see a real professional artist, as well as get to know my beautiful cousin. I fell in love with Ann and this lovely, provincial town. I started visiting regularly, and many years later, when N.Y. had lost its charms, DC, near Ann, was where I wanted to be.


at the Arboretum

She was my friend. Ann and I were close friends as well. We had so many common interests. We were both artists. She was incredibly intelligent, and talented. We often joked that there must have been a family mix-up. She and I were similar in so many ways that surely we should have been sisters and our younger car-crazy Navy-enlisting brothers should have been brothers. Cousins, identical cousins . . .

We complimented each other. Ann was a wonderful counter to my city-girl brashness with her gentle voice and manner. But her soft demeanor didn't fool me or, I suspect, anyone who really knew her. Inside Ann was a strong core, an iron will. Sometimes curiously evidenced in her strict home driveway parking regulations . . . Sometimes joyfully, willingly, enthusiastically chasing my daughter "just one more time" on the playground while her tired mommy relaxed and watched. Ann's inner strength could rival anyone. Such strength as evidenced in her daily, sometimes moment-by-moment battle with an unrelenting illness.


we found a caterpillar

But Ann's empathy and her huge heart were probably her most defining characteristics. She (twice) gave me a place to stay as I moved down here from N.Y. and set about looking for an apartment, a job. Her home and her heart were always a safe haven. She was with me every step of the way through my pregnancy, birth, and of course, the life of her beloved little first cousin once-removed (yes, I checked that on Wikipedia). It was love at first sight for them both.

When I was a child my family spent almost every Sunday at my Grandma's house—for the great dinners (of course), but also for the family time, for the stories. I really missed those times and connections. Ann understood, and we tried our best to keep that tradition alive by creating one of our own. Before the baby, we might do dinner, a movie or a museum either here or in town. I even got her to a Yankee game. After my daughter was born, it became not just our attempt to visit regularly, but our weekend routine, our life here in DC.


piano lessons

I will be forever grateful for the life and times, discoveries and stories, we shared together. I know my daughter will as well. I will miss our talks, our hugs, our visits. But I know that as long as I continue to tell the stories, to remember, that she will never really be gone. Ann is with us always.


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