It's by no means my best Carol story, but it will help initiate the uniniated, so to speak.
I told this story at my mother's funeral and I'll retell it here because I think it bares repeating. This, as with all Carol Stories, probably contains some embelishments and some fuzzy memory recollections. But it is, as are all these stories, 100% true to Carol's spirit.
We grew up in Commack, New York.
Commack, for those that don't know, is right smack in the middle of Long Island, which is of course famous for exactly 3 things...
1) Billy Joel
2) The Amityville Horror
3) Joey Buttafuco
...and that's pretty much it.
Across the street and two houses over...or two houses over and across the street, depending on how wonky your sense of direction is, was our neighbors and dear friends, The Garmins.
...that is not their real names. I'm not sure they would want their names showing up in a Google search that brought them here. If they read this, and they give me permission to use their real names, I'll go back and change it. Until then, they are the Garmins...
One of the Garmins, Marianne Garmin..again, not her real name...was about 7 years older than my brother and 9 years older than me. She used to babysit me when I was a kid...although, I wouldn't necessarily call it "babysitting"...it was more like a video game wherein Player 1 has to try to stop an out of control 5 year old, high on a Charleston Chew bender from doing as many dangerous things as possible.
Sometime she got the high score....sometimes not.
But hey, to her credit, I'm still here today, she's not in therapy and I only had to be rushed to the Emergency Room 4 or 5 times on her watch.
Don't forget, this was the 70's. Playing with matches was my generation's Sony Playstation. So all in all, I'd say she did a damn good job.
Anyway, time passed as time does and Marianne grew up and moved out of Commack and into a new house in a new town with her own family.
One afternoon, my mom and I drove over to Marianne's new place for a housewarming party. While sitting in the backyard, my mother peers into the neighbors yard and sees this young brown and white boxer dog.
Not quite a puppy, but not quite mature.
Being an animal lover, my mother asks Marianne if she knows anything about "the dog that lives next door" ...because with my mom, it wasn't the person that owned the dog that lived next door...it was just the dog living next door, who may or may not have had an owner.
Mariannejust kind of shrugged her shoulders and said "No, not really".
They had just moved in a few weeks ago and haven't really met any of the neighbors yet.
So my mom, being my mom, kept an eye on the backyard hoping to see the dog's owner.
And when the owner, an older gentleman finally did come outside, my mom, being my mom, immediately started a conversation with him.
Within 10 minutes she had this guy's entire story down.
What his name was...
Where he worked...
If he had kids...
How old they were...
Has he ever done any time in prison...
If so, for what...
Etc. etc. etc....
Turns out the dog's name was Rocha which was short for Rochane (pronounced Rah-Cha-Nay) which meant "Queen" in some obscure South African dialect.
The story was, this man, had been living in South Africa for a while and got Rocha as a puppy shortly before coming back to the United States.
So the dog, for all intents and purposes, was actually of South African descent and therefore had a traditional South African name.
Cute story, right?
Well, it doesn't end there.
My mother had this guy outside chit-chatting about this, that and the other for well over 2 hours. It's not like she had him cornered or wouldn't let him leave. They were both engaged in a conversation that they were genuinely enjoying.
Now, I don't know what was said or what transpired during those two hours.
All I know is that two of us went to Marianne's house that afternoon.
My mother and me.
But three of us came back.
My mother, me and Rocha the dog.
This man, whom my mother just met and Marianne, his neighbor didn't even know, willingly gave my mom his dog.
I'm going to say that again so you understand just how surreal that is.
This man willingly gave my mom his dog.
"Here, have my dog".
I don't care who you are or what you do for a living, nobody....nobody reading this could have ever pulled that off. Nobody.
But that was Carol.
That was the kind of person she was and that was the kind of affect she had on people.
Friends, family, strangers...didn't matter.
She had this amazing ability to touch and connect with people. To bring them close and to make you feel like you were part of the family.