This is my great-uncle Davie.
He is holding a postcard that his brother Izzy sent him in 1943--back when Davie was in training before serving in World War II.
Davie is one of those people you can't describe in just one word. Or maybe you can, but it would be in Yiddish, and what little I do know is transliterated from the dirty jokes he used to tell and retell at family gatherings over the years. This is the man who dispenses $2 liberally, so freely in fact that for much of my childhood I imagined him with his own little press in his basement. No one I knew had them, or spent them, so in my mind they had no monetary value whatsoever; they were Davie-money, like monopoly money, except better.
I saw Davie this weekend while visiting Los Angeles in a whirlwind trip that involved a family memorial service and twelve full hours at Disneyland. Thankfully, not at the same time. But it struck me as appropriate to have a literal roller coaster weekend surrounded by people who had, in one way or another, made my life what it is now. Whether they contributed DNA or sent me birthday greetings from halfway around the country or mailed me an espresso machine when I started college (smart thinking, cousin Shannon) or grew up with me in Davis or were game enough to make the drive to meet my loving and loud extended family (my boyfriend has, indeed, turned in his WASP card, as his brother said)--there was a lot of support emanating from everyone. And yet, we were there because someone had died. Not just someone; it doesn't feel right to leave out her name (even on a blog), because, just like every other iota of her being, her name is just too colorful and vibrant to leave out: Cippy Stambaugh.
There are at least a thousand words I could dedicate (and will dedicate) to the woman who, shortly after my 21st birthday, presented me with a Corona at 11 am at a family gathering, then gave me a painting she herself had created, and later mailed me one of her favorite stuffed animals as a good luck charm. The stories my family retold about her--hot-air ballooning, tromping around New Zealand in her 70s, untying her bikini top at a public pool to make a point--she was, in every possible sense of the word, a character.
So I'd like to raise a virtual toast (in Cippy's case, a toasted piece of bread) not only to the woman herself, but to her brother Davie, to my grandmother Saralee, to all the brilliant and brave souls of their generation who still want so much for their color, emotion, and legacy to be recognized. I recognize you.