01:23:19 pm on
Sunday 19 Sep 2021

Susan
AJ Robinson

In the past, I wrote of being the fifth of five boys and so much younger than the other four. When your siblings are teens or young adults, they go off and do all the things teens and young adults do. They learn to drive, they graduate high school, they get jobs; they date.

Dating meant hanging out with girls.

As I had no sisters, I saw girls as either total aliens or just regular kids, at least when I was a toddler and young child. After all, girls my age pretty much were regular kids, they didn’t wear makeup or stylish clothes. When it came to teen girls or others that were older, they were the aliens.

At age four, I had no clue as to how to understand girls qua women unless they were my mom, aunt or grandmother. Then Susan (above) came into my life. My notion of girls changed.

Susan was the girlfriend of my brother, Gregory, and the first woman, outside my family, who became a regular fixture in my orbit. You see, there finally came the day they married. I attended the ceremony, which was deathly dull, at least from my point of view, as a child.

Given my age that was entirely reasonable. Someone did find me a box of Matchbox Cars to play with at the reception. So, the day was not a total loss. More importantly,

Susan provided me with something quite precious: a nephew and a niece. When I was five, Nicholas was born; two years later Heidi. I was now an uncle two times over. An uncle at age five and seven, imagine that.

I was closer in age to Nick and Heidi than to any of my brothers. They were the younger siblings I thought I might never have; I like to think we had a pretty good childhood together. They lived in a little place on Martha’s Vineyard and thus we were able to see them every summer.

Those were particularly fun summers. Then came the summer of 1974. A film team came to the island in May of that year to start shooting a movie based on a recent best-selling book.

It was Jaws and the production would dominate the island for the next several months. As the company needed locals to fill in several roles, actors and production, people applied for jobs. Susan worked on the crew.

Susan worked the shark.

She was one of the people who helped to run Bruce, the shark. It was exciting to watch the filming at State Beach. To see Qunit’s boat sail back and forth across the shore. To know that a family member was helping to create a future classic.

Life is rarely so picture perfect as a fairy tale. Greg and Susan fell on challenging times and, ultimately, divorced. I never understood what went on with them, but I was too young; it really wasn’t something either of them was likely to share.

At any rate, Susan faded from my life for a time. especially once Greg re-married. Then it became rather antithetical to mention her at family gatherings. Yet, there is the saying about time healing wounds, and Susan went on to have a good life.

She had her share of bumps and bruises. Eventually, we re-connected; she even helped in tracing the Robinson family genealogy. My dad would have been proud.

There came the time when she moved back to the island. It seems its tendrils reach very deep into the souls of some people and Susan was one of them. My Brother Stephen helped her to buy a nice tiny home. It was one of the last deals he carried out before he passed away. Jo Ann and I even got to visit and stay with her in her new place, ironically it was for Steve’s memorial service.

Then, when Heidi moved back to the island. As all Robinsons she answered the island’s Siren call. She and her mom were able to spend more time together.

Never enough time.

In another touch of irony, their time was short, too. Susan received a diagnosis of lung cancer a few months ago. Jo and I had hoped to go up for another visit, but with the coronavirus and travel restrictions that became impossible. Sadly, we knew that her time was short and there finally came word that she was gone. I am happy for the times we had together, sad for what we missed. I hope I have adequately honoured her with this little story.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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