A Short Story
Post #76 – An Orphan, a Fire, a World-Renowned Singer, a Mobster, and Crushed Dreams
Me at the age of twenty-two – a true disco queen
- I taught ballroom dancing during my late twenties, performed with a partner in Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles and danced like they do on Dancing with the Stars. (Truth) While in Johns Hopkins in 1992, my neurologist told me I would never walk (or dance) again. It killed me inside when I heard those words. I was forty-one.
- When I lived in Vegas, I met Frank Sinatra, even went to his estate with in Palm Springs twice with a friend of his, but I had to wait in the car.
- I worked at The Forge, a famous nightclub/restaurant in Miami Beach when I was 24 and served the infamous mobster Meyer Lansky cocktails in the lounge.
- As a child, I studied ballet, tap, and jazz for eight years. My mother ended my lessons after my younger brother almost burned to death at the age of ten. I was eleven. He was my tap dance partner. For Mom to let me continue dancing would have only added to his agony. But, it crushed me, ended my dreams, and was the first of many dominoes to topple over in my life.
- All of my family is dead, father, mother, two younger brothers who died in their forties, and my baby sister, who died when she was fifty-two, a little over a year ago. It’s weird to be alone. I sometimes wonder if they really existed.
- I have two wonderful children – a girl and a boy, a step-daughter, and two from his side. Together, we have twelve precious grandchildren.
- I am Catholic Syrian, British, Italian, Jewish Armenian, Irish, and German. I discovered most of this info on Ancestry.com, although I have a copy of my mother’s father’s family tree and my father’s mother’s family tree. My mother’s brother, who was thirteen years older than she, sent my mother the copy and I inherited it. It was written in French because Syria was formed in 1930 as a component of the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, I suppose.
- My mother was an orphan, grew up in an orphanage and foster homes. Her father, who lost a lucrative import company due to the stock market crash of 1929, died when she was two in 1934, His business partner killed himself. My grandmother, a nurse, died at the age of thirty-six two years after him.
- After I was rescued from sex traffickers and a suicide attempt that landed me in the Bernstein Pavilion of Beth Israel Hospital in NYC, my roommate Cathy and her Uncle Dick “adopted” me and took me to live with them. My doctor released me into Uncle Dick’s care along with two stipulations. The first – I join a Methadone Program (because my traffickers forced heroin into my veins). The second – I had to find a job. I was twenty-one, had no diploma or work experience, yet I landed a job in Ohrbach’s, (a department store chain) located across the street from the Empire State Building. I wandered into that building once, but never got on an elevator. I am afraid of heights. But, I did meet Johnny Mathis at the store during a record album signing. Had no idea who he was back then. For the first time in my life, I had a sense of dignity and felt like the woman in the TV show That Girl. I tracked down my methadone counselor Marty, who helped me greatly, by googling his phone number a few years ago. I got lucky and found him. We are now Facebook friends.
- This may sound strange, but I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone else’s, I am content in my call.
- And lastly, I rock out to tunes and dance in my bed. But, I cannot stand. Tropical Spastic Parapareis (the virus I contracted) is a progressive muscle-weakening disease. It has killed most of the muscles in my legs, but I still have some tone and can move my left foot slightly. Pretty cool.