The odd and wonderful thing about memories is that, with some of them, you never know you have them until they surface suddenly, without any announcement or advanced notice.
Earlier this morning, I was preparing to say something 'pithy' about Sunday's gospel (which, of course, we all remember being John 15:9-17) for the Wednesday morning, 7 AM Healing Eucharist (Thirty minutes, easy in, easy out, with an additional 10 minutes or so of prayers for healing and laying on of hands, and followed by Breakfast at Angies).
I read these words of Jesus, "You are my friends . . ." and ". . .I have called you friends . . ." and suddenly, from out of nowhere, I had this memory.
As children growing up in an immigrant family, watching the television was a Very Big Deal. It was considered an extravagance, tantamount to having the theater come right into your living room, which we couldn't have, in a million years, afforded.
The television - black and white with lots of snow, and 'rabbit ears' on top - was prima facia evidence of at least a little piece of the realization of The Great American Dream.
Even so, there, every Sunday night thanks to Ed Sullivan, Big Name Stars appeared in our very living room: Ethel Merman, Carol Burnett, Steve and Edie, Julie Andrews, Milton Berle, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Red Skelton, Topo Gigio and, of course, Elvis "The Pelvis" Pressley and The Beatles.
The whole family would gather 'round the set and, after the show ended, we prolonged the entertainment by putting on some impromptu talent shows for our parents - and, truth be told, each other.
I remember my brother, John, being four or five years old, and singing a spot on impersonation of Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife", including the finger snapping, smart-aleck head bob, and the whole hip-leg motion thing.
Mind you, I don't remember much of Bobby Darin singing this, but I remember my then very little brother (he had been very sickly as a child and so was really small and frail at that time) raising howls of delighted laughter and vigorous applause from us all.
But, it is Ethel Merman singing Cole Porter's 'Friendship' from the film adaptation of the Broadway Musical "Anything Goes" which came flooding back to me this morning.
My siblings and I LOVED to reenact this scene. We took turns being "Ethel" (I mean, who hasn't, really?) in the different verses, from the oldest to the youngest. So, the first verse belonged to me, then next to Madeline, then John, then Diana.
I can see us now, in that small living room in that impossibly small tenement apartment above my Grandparent's apartment, our arms around each other's necks in a goofy, awkward embrace which challenged our balance, standing (or, trying to) in front of the coffee table (does anyone use those anymore?), singing to my parents who sat in rapt attention on the couch.
No performer ever had a better audience.
The ending, however, belonged to us all as we sang the final verse:
"It's friendship, friendship, just the perfect blendship.
When other friendship have been forgit, ours will still be it.
Yada, yada, yada dum, dum, dum.
Cha, cha, cha.
Wow, wow, wow.
Ding, ding, ding"
And then came the grand finale of the evening - in our best Ethel Merman -
"Good evening, friends" we would sing, arms wide open, taking a long, deep bow, and then up to blowing kisses to the 'audience'.
I remember the time when my siblings were my best friends. In those magical moments every Sunday night, we could not imagine how our lives would change, how the world would change, or where life would take us.
I sang that song, then, as a lark.
As my brother's mind begins to succumb to the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease, I am aware that I sing it now as prayer.
And, it brings me peace.