199. Iris

My sister Iris was Stephanie’s mother and very much like her

She wasn’t affectionate. Any time I kissed her other than hello or good bye I had to do it with her trying to push me away. In spite of this I never felt more loved by anyone in my life.

She didn’t like visitors. I think mainly because she had very high standards of being a hostess and hated to be caught without her house in tip top shape and  more food than anyone could possibly eat and also because she just liked to be alone.

It was a family joke but true that Iris would set the table days before having company so as not to be caught short. No surprise that on occasion the dishes would have a light coat of dust on them if she prepared a little too early.

One time her husband Bernie brought home a friend without warning her and called Iris from upstairs to come down and say hello.

She did, but when he left she told Bernie if he ever did that again she would not only not come down but she would put on some loud music and dance in front of the window so they’d know she was home.

A few years ago dave and I and our close friends Carmon and Kathy went to Canada for the weekend. On the way home we would be stopping near York, Maine for the night. Iris and her husband lived in York.

When I got close I called Iris and said we’d stop by and say hello. I knew she’d hate it but I’d be practically passing her house. How could I not see her?

“Nah” she said “I’ll be in the City in a few days and I’ll see you then.”.

“Iris, I’ll be a block away. I can leave everyone at the hotel and come alone”

“That would be too awkward. Someone would want to come with you. I’ll see you in a few days”

Since they all knew Iris, everyone laughed. Carmon suggested just to torture her we should drive over to her house and start unloading our bags.

One time my friend Susan’s husband Allan was playing drums for Maureen McGovern in York and he offered to give Iris free tickets to the show.

After checking with her I had to tell him she’d love them but only if she didn’t have to talk to him or go backstage or anything like that.

“Perfect” he said.

Still at the end of the concert he had the bandleader give a shoutout to her from the stage.

She and I once had a bet about which of us could get our husbands to do more outrageous things. We started easy. Without any prompting could I get dave to kiss me before she could get Bernie to kiss her?

I was very sure of myself then and dave is affectionate. I reached across him to get something on the table and he leaned over and kissed my arm.

Iris reached towards Bernie and he winced.

In the end she won though. The next week was Thanksgiving and it was at my house. When I opened the door, Bernie was standing there, holding a platter of food wearing bright red lipstick.

She was the KING.

She was 11 years older than me. In spite of that I was her best friend. Even when I was little. In fact I was 9 years old and my two friends, Beverly and Pat, stopped talking to me so I had no one to eat lunch with.

Iris was 7 months pregnant and every day at lunchtime she’d meet me at the luncheonette and sit at the counter and have lunch with me until I made up with my friends.

Iris died at a relatively young age but no one lived more fully than she did.

She had high blood pressure and a bad heart but she wanted to see the world. When I begged her not to go to China a few years ago she said  ” Mattie, if I die on this trip don’t feel bad. I’m doing what I want to do”.

Except for the fierce way she loved her family she couldn’t be less like me but a day doesn’t pass that I don’t miss her.

3 thoughts on “199. Iris

  1. I miss her too Mattie. i loved her interpretations and comments that you relayed back to me. Iris was truly a “class act”!!!

  2. What a tender, loving portrait of your sister. I enjoy reading your posts, Mattie. You have a talent for writing that gets to the center of things, in a clever, funny and heartbreaking way.

    Also? Your husband’s an eejit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s