Rule of Thirds

They say bad things happen in threes.  For years now I’ve thought this in the celebrity world.  When one celebrity dies, I watch the papers for two more.  It always happens this way.

Now it’s happened in my family.

First, in the spring, it was my cousin Arlene.  Then, a few weeks ago, my dad.  And this morning, when the phone rang, my mom told me about the third.

Madge was my cousin’s grandmother, mother of my Uncle Vince.  He is my uncle by marriage to my Aunt Rita, my Dad’s sister.  Madge is the last matriarch in our family. 

Madge was always a spunky, energetic and even sometimes bombastic person.  She had a love for live and for family.  Even into her 80s, she could still be seen dancing to “That’s Amore” in the middle of summer or cooking a huge meal for a hungry group of family and friends.  She loved her family– especially her son, her granddaughter, and her great-granddaughter (pictured with Madge at the left) very much– but more than that, Madge just loved life.  

Both of my grandfathers had died before I was born, and when I was a little boy, I remember asking Vince, Madge’s husband, if he would “be my Grandpa”.  He, of course, said yes.  When he died, Madge reminded me of that.  It meant so much to him, and to her, that I would ask him that. 

I always loved Madge like my own grandmothers. When my Grandma died in 1985, and my Nana in 1993, and I was left without any grandparents, Madge became my “surrogate” grandma.  So losing her is as hard on me (and my sister) as it is on my cousin and the rest of her family.

The last time I saw Madge was at my Dad’s funeral.  She was distraught, because she loved my father as much as the rest of us.  She and Dad were die-hard Cubs fans.  When the Cubs would be doing well, Madge would call him and talk to him about how great they were doing.  When the Cubs were doing badly (like this year), Madge would call my Dad and they would bitch about it together.  I’d like to think they’re both up in Heaven now, plotting just how they are going to fix things once and for all.

The last thing I said to Madge was “You take care of yourself, because we need to get together so I can learn how to make Gennettis.  I’m going to call you.”  She said “Absolutely.”  I never got the chance.  Genettis are an Italian cookie, much like a biscotti, but softer, lighter and sweeter, with a colorful sugar glaze coating.  Nobody made Genettis like Madge– and she always made a huge batch.   I always wanted to learn how to make them from her, but Madge never wrote anything down.  She did it all from memory, each and every time. And now I’ve missed that opportunity.

This has been an extremely trying year for my family.  I don’t even want to say “What else could go wrong?” because I’m afraid of what could.  I just hope that the rule of thirds is over now.  But for now, we have to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and move on.