My mother was a beautiful, Jewess. My earliest memories were of sitting beside her staring into the mirror trying to see something in me that looked like her. I had inherited my father’s fair skin, his blue eyes, even his dimples.
“That’s Jack Callahan’s daughter” they would say, as we would walk past on the way to the market. “She’s the spittin’ image of Jack.”
I loved my father with every part of my being. He was a bear of a man; He was 6’ 3” tall and weighed 230. He could lift my mother high above his shoulders with just one hand. He loved us both so deeply, so dearly.
“My two beauties,” he called us. When we laughed he would say it sounded like the tinkling bells. The one thing I did share with my mother was her beautiful laugh. My dad made us laugh long and often.
Our home was safe, fun and so different from that all of my friends. We had Hanukah and Christmas, Passover and Easter. Our house was a place of celebration we had holidays twice as often as anyone I knew. Friends would gather to celebrate everything, anything or nothing at all.
Life was so good.
We didn’t even know how good it was until the Main Street fire. I was eight. It was two weeks before Christmas. When that fire took my dad nothing was ever the same. It seemed that “it was always winter and never Christmas” after that. I can’t imagine that it was cold and dark for the next several years but it seemed to be that way to me. Even now looking back I can not recall anything but winter until I was almost 15. No more laughter, no more fun, the sound of the bells silenced.