Cousin Jack takes us back to a Good Friday years ago as events unfolded in his neighborhood in the Ironbound Section of Newark, better known to those from the area as “Down Neck.” This got me to thinking about a Good Friday many years ago and our grandmother, whom we always referred to as “Granny.” She was a wonderful lady, born around the turn of the century in New York City, who could always be counted on for a laugh, a large dose of encouragement, “medical” advice, or a cup of tea.
On one Good Friday, when I was in my teens, I remarked to Granny how awful the weather was on that cold, dark and rainy day. Without pausing one second, Granny replied, “It always rains on Good Friday, Sonny.”
In attempting to process Granny’s bold statement, my first reaction was to try recall past Good Fridays. In about two seconds, I came to my senses knowing that, even if by some strange statistical accident Northern New Jersey regularly got rain on Good Friday, surely it wasn’t raining everywhere on the planet. And, after all, for a twenty-four hour period, it was Good Friday everywhere on the planet. I resisted the temptation to ask Granny if she thought it was raining that day in the Sahara Desert. I did so out of love and respect, and, besides, I really didn’t want to tangle ass with Granny, particularly over matters religious.
On the religious front, Granny took no prisoners. While church attendance in my immediate family was hit or miss (we lived two towns away from the Down Neck fourplex where Jack, Granny and our other cousins lived), skipping church was not an option when Granny was around. Such was the case on those occasions when I stayed overnight at the fourplex on Saturdays. No matter how late we had been up on Saturday night, Sunday morning we would all be greeted by Granny’s command voice saying, “Get your asses out of bed and go to church” (or “choich” as Granny would pronounce it).
Granny never missed mass, but she also never missed a chance to tell a funny story, laugh hysterically at a joke, have a couple “highballs,” dispense her precious pearls of wisdom, and generally raise a little hell.
Granny passed away more than 25 years ago, but she still lives, for when family members get together, we all share our favorite Granny stories. The stories age as gracefully as Granny did. I miss her.
Oh, yeah. I’m looking out the window on this Good Friday, and you know what? It looks like rain.