All throughout our lives people come and go, and a lot folks become friends only to drift away after awhile, but Mom and Auntie Rosie, they took it all the way. And it seems that sometimes a connection like theirs goes deeper than even some biological ones may do, because often times one can be more honest with a really true friend. Blessed that be the ties that bind true friends together for life.
I donít think any of us can remember the both of them together without thinking of their weekly Scrabble games, the sound of the tiles being tossed inside the bag, and who went first by drawing a letter. It was more than just about the game itself, and also much more than the idea of playing against each other, as much as it was about spending the time together. Scrabble was just their normal weekly routine.
They never mentioned much about their early times when they met as classmates at St. Vincent's High School, and I canít seem to recall the two of them ever arguing or disagreeing about anything or anyone, and for all intents and purposes they just always got along well. They seemed like couple of kindred souls who shared similar life experiences, and at that stage in their lives were comfortable being with each other.
Auntie Rosie and Mom were like that until time inevitably took it all away from them, after so many years of being there for each other through all of lifeís ups and downs, and all the good and bad that comes along the way. A true friendship that lasted through marriage, raising kids, moving entire households, accepting each otherís relatives, and through all the Holidays, weddings and funerals in-between.
I guess for us, Momís kids, there was some sort of void early on before we moved up to the city from Watsonville. My own earliest memories of Auntie Rosie was going to visit at the flat where they lived over in the Mission District, before they moved to the Projects below Bernal Heights over on Ellsworth Street. While coming up we spent a lot of time over at those Projects.
On the Scrabble nights Auntie Rosie would take the bus over to the house in the early afternoon and I can recall the trays of enchiladas she made, and that she was the first person to introduce us to those little individual frozen pizzas that you peel off the plastic and pop them in the oven. After their game was over and they put everything away, Mom would drive her home with one or two of us along for the ride.
Now that I think about it, Scrabble was their way of doing something they both enjoyed without any of the day-to-day distractions that usually must be taken care of, it was a time to share and a time to relax. It seemed that it really didnít matter who won the games as long as they had that one night during the week, just for themselves to put the words together on the board. They just loved to play.
Auntie Rosie and Mom did their thing for years, and anyone could tell by looking at them that they went back a very long ways, for the two of them could sit there for lengthy stretches of time without saying anything, and it was cool, because they didnít have to. Often all we would hear was the tiles being tossed in the bag and them counting the scores after each game was completed, and then starting another one.
After Mom died, so did Johnny, and unfortunately we lost touch with them after all the time that had passed since we left the city. But the memory lingers on in the mindís eye of the two friends getting together once a week to play Scrabble.