Sometimes you just have to write…
Have you ever noticed how distant memories of people and places present themselves to you in the form of images, like snapshots or very short film clips from long ago?
That’s what comes to mind when I think about my cousin, Geoffrey Geisinger (we always called him Geoffie), who died yesterday.One image is of us at my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Freddie’s house in New Haven, Connecticut. It was a sprawling, single-storey house with a sunken living room and a pool in the backyard. I must have been very young, because I’m quite sure that Geoffie was a teenager at the time, and, if I’m figuring this correctly, he was 13 or 14 years older than I was.
The image is of how tall he was; he seemed like a giant. He was kind to us much littler cousins, and would pick us up and let us ride on his shoulders. I remember that every time we saw him, my sister and I would beg for rides on his shoulders and he would let us take turns until he was too out of breath to go on. It was so exciting for us to be up that high, and to be able to touch the ceiling.
I remember their basement in that house, and how Geoffie tried to teach us to play pool. He was very good, at least to our young eyes, and the joy of visiting wasn’t playing pool with him, but simply getting such friendly attention from this tall, imposing cousin.
I remember his first wedding. I must have been about seven years old then. What I remember about it is my jealousy: Nina, my younger sister, got to be a flower girl, and I didn’t. I remember the dress Nina wore: a deep orangey-yellow maxi dress, with a braided rope of sorts around her waist. She looked like a princess, and I wanted to look like one too. I think I was too consumed with jealousy to remember much else.
Another clear memory is a snapshot: Geoffie with his handlebar mustache. It was so out-of-fashion, and yet for his entire adult life, as far as I know, he had that mustache. On the rare occasions that we would see each other, he would lean down (still tall, even when I was grown up) and give me a kiss on the cheek, and his mustache tickled.
I don’t know much about his work, or his accomplishments: the kind of information that would usually be included in an obituary. I haven’t seen him in many years. But I have a few very clear, fond memoriesof him, and they make me smile.