A little over two years ago, tragedy struck my family in the form of a skiing accident. With one crash landing, life went from a calm walk in the park to a whirlwind of chaos and pain. As I laid there, confused and terrified in a hospital bed, my family was wracked with grief and overwhelmed by doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers. And while morphine robbed me of most my initial hospital memories, I’ll never forget how it felt when she walked in my room. My guardian angel didn’t have a halo or wings… just black hair and tanned skin. She came to my bedside, and I mouthed two words… “Hey Ma.”
She calls herself my Italian Drama Mama, but most people know her as Margie Victor. Her son Robbie and I first met playing Little League against each other in elementary school, and we have been as close as brothers for almost 20 years now. Ask for her favorite memory of me, and the woman I call my second mom will without a doubt embarrass me yet again with a tale of a little boy falling in love with her cooking. The great Italian dish that sealed it? Rice-a-Roni…
Scour the earth, and I guarantee you will not find another soul like Margie. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s animated as all hell. Her boisterous laugh and ability to find both humor and irony in just about any situation will make you smile every time. The very definition of unconditional love, she’s one of the rare few genuinely open minds of her generation that chooses to look past the crazy hair colors, tattoos and piercings of people my age to see them for who they really are.
What makes Margie so amazing is the fact that if you are a friend of either of her sons, you are as good as family in her eyes. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life, you always know there’s one place you can turn for help, a place to crash, some great Italian food or just a warm hug. Because she is this way, she receives the utmost respect, love and, at times, fear from every boy that was lucky enough to call her “Ma.” Nothing can bring a grown man to his knees like a look of disapproval from a barely-five-foot-tall Italian woman.
So, it’s not surprising that after she kissed me on the forehead in the intensive care that February morning, I knew everything was going to be OK. From that point on, Margie became my family’s absolute rock. Always thinking, she refused to let us give up hope. She somehow made it seem as if she was always there, and when she wasn’t, some sort of sixth sense would cause her to call at the very moment we needed her strength. She was the one person that managed to keep her bearings amidst all the trauma and confusion, and went on to carry us through our darkest days.
Flash forward to the present. Aside from my mom, my Italian Drama Mama is the only person that gets me completely. She has the unique ability to judge whether a situation or location is “Kenny accessible” based on a complete understanding of my comfort levels that even I don’t have. Regardless of where she is, she is constantly analyzing every detail as they pertain to me; accessibility, weather, temperature, social setting, you name it. Most days, all we have to do tell her where we are headed, and she can instantly break down everything we might need, and what we should expect. Looking back, I can’t imagine how my family could have survived this whole ordeal without my guardian angel. I strongly believe that, if it were not for Margie, I would never have been able to adjust to my life as it is.
I truly hope you understand just what you have meant to our family over these last few years, Ma. You have no idea how great it feels to always know there is an angel like you on our side at all times. We all love you so much.