Happy Birthday, Aunt Susi

Today, January 22nd, would have been my Aunt Susi’s 66th birthday. I remember her being very excited about turning 65 last year, as she was finally eligible for Medicare. She had struggled without health insurance for some time, and finally, she had the security of knowing that she could not be denied health coverage.

Unfortunately, her illness had progressed too far by the time that she was able to seek treatment. She passed away last October from complications related to bone, brain, and breast cancer.

In honor of her birthday today, I’m going to share another email from her that she sent me two years ago on her birthday. She decided to tell me about one of her more adventurous birthdays in NYC. This particular birthday of hers was spent with some of her favorite people from the folk band, Schooner Fare.

As it’s my birthday, I’m also thinking back, which immediately brings back one of my most memorable celebrations… my 40th in 1987… that took place in NYC!
 
Schooner Fare was scheduled to play that weekend at our good friend Tommy Makem’s club in NYC. Since Steve was born just one day before me, it had been decided ahead of time that I would come up so we could celebrate 40 together. About 10 of my buddies were due to take the train up with me on Friday morning but “Mother Nature” threw D.C. a curve ball that went down in local history as the “Super Bowl Blizzard”! (It was one of the worst nor’easters to hit the NE in decades, and our Mayor, the infamous Marion Berry was safely in California to attend the Super Bowl…)
 
Anyway, that morning I struggled to get to Union Station & only 2 of my friends made it as well. It was chaos, but somehow the 3 of us managed to get on what turned out to be the last train to get out before DC shut down. We made it as far as just north of Wilmington, Del. when the train stopped for hours! Finally another train came up on another track & we had to hike through blinding snow to get on that one. (Need I mention that in spite of the fact that it was early afternoon, we, like many other passengers were half in the bag due to free drinks in the club car!)
 
We arrived in NYC late in the afternoon leaving the heart of the storm behind us (but on the way). It was a Friday & people were leaving the city like rats off a sinking ship. Talked to Steve…their flight from Portland was canceled so they were going to drive…Fri. night show off but hopefully the 1/22 “birthday” show would be a go. We had reservations at Tavern On the Green for a pre-birthday dinner so Cheryl, Maureen & I took a cab to that great old restaurant, all lit up in little white lights with snow falling in Central Park & had a great meal! The only prob was when we finished the storm was descending on NYC and there were NO cabs. We decided to walk to the Plaza, (surely the doorman at one of NY’s finest hotels could help us get a cab, right? Wrong!) After literally slogging thru snow up to Maureen’s waist, (she was 5’1″) we got to the Plaza & there was no doorman at all. LONG story short, we finally got a ride from the barman to our hotel.
 
The “Schooner boys” made it in around midnight just before the deluge. The blizzard began to ebb early Saturday afternoon & NYC was a winter wonderland. People managed to get out on foot. We made it to the club, packed with stir crazy New Yorkers who had emerged from their cavernous hidey-holes ready to sing and party. Makem’s came up with a huge cake, a round on the house and all kinds of silly decorations to celebrate Steve and me turning 40!…an unforgettable night!
 
The postscript was that I was due to take the train north on Sunday to join my dear friend Jan & her husband BOB in Natick, MA, outside of Boston to extend the b’day celebration. I boarded the train at Penn Station. Jan was to meet me at a station near Providence, R.I. The packed train managed to make it there through the storm now moving towards Boston, but the door to our car was stuck in the open position from somewhere in Conn. on. The little station where she was waiting was deserted as I emerged, a walking icicle. We only made it as far as Providence before the blizzard caught up with us. I had sprained my bad ankle sloshing through snow in NYC. It was badly swollen so she left me with it propped up on my suitcase in a crowded bar near the Univ. of R.I. while she went to try to find us a hotel. (No cell phones in those days). While she was gone I got hit on by 2 adorable URI students on the day after my 40th!
 
We finally made it to Natick on Tuesday. Boston had been clobbered & the storm was in Maine/Nova Scotia now. Logan was shut down & when it finally opened DC was still such a mess that what was called Washington National Airport then, was barely functional. I finally got home on Friday, a week after I’d left. I still beat the Mayor back & most of the streets were STILL buried in ice-encrusted snow! (My boyfriend Tommy couldn’t dig the car out…we took the Metro back and had to struggle to get from the Dupont Circle stop to our apartment at 19th & R!) It was political hot button issue for the most teflon-covered politician in history for a long time afterwards!
 
All in all, I wouldn’t have traded the adventure for anything, and it will always remain one of my favorite memories of NYC. On this day 24 years later, I wish you all the fun without any of the struggles & strife!
 
Know that I love you, Aunt Susi
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