The summer of 1999 we had some issues with our washing machine. The machine was not working just quit. I noticed on the machine was a shiny label, it read
“Tony S. the working girls friend” along with a phone number and such.
We called, a voice at the end of the phone was an elderly man but strong voice, and said “Tony here” well I just couldn’t help it, I said is this “the working girls friend”? Big giant laugh well yes it is. After a short description of the audacity of that machine to stop working. He says I will put on my cape and be right there. I am laughing, ok I said.
An hour later this man shows up. In a 1950’s truck jacked up in the back, with a sparkling bright yellow paint job, and on the side, was a big magnetic sign that read the working girls friend. He wasn’t alone he had two English bull dogs with him. He was Italian about 70 something, with dark gold stylish glasses, hair slicked back, a ribbed white tank top, tucked in to his jeans. He was very well built for a man his age, with bulging muscles. His cologne went ahead him. I walked out, to greet him.
Very loud but friendly “oh hello there” it was summer and I had on shorts and tee shirt. The dogs pilled out one Buck and one Mandy. I hope you don’t mind I brought my dogs. Buck was over 100lbs and Mandy was about 70lbs. Big English bull dogs.
Tony also showed me the tattoos on his arms of more bulldogs that had passed. Then flexed his muscles to make them move. I laughed I had never seen anyone do such a thing.
I introduced myself, and then Fred came out of the house and it began. Talking and laughing, then working on the machine. Which he did fix, then lunch at our house, and playing with the dogs.
We all became good friends. We knew him for years. He would meet us at car shows, and then for an early breakfast somewhere.
He never called me Renee even, he called me rosebud.
I don’t know why. He always said that Fred didn’t deserve me, and that I was a sacred flower his words not mine.
Tony was a character. A total one of a kind. If you needed something he was always there. He was fun, loud, and out spoken. He didn’t like ageing at all. I could tell that he felt he was losing his masculinity, and that was all so important to Tony as he was very wrapped up in who he was and how he presented himself.
One time he invites Fred and I to a 50s dance at a hall in Newark. We met him there. I ended up dancing with him all night this man could dance. Fred was patient and got a good laugh as I was all over the floor with this man, swinging me here and there. But I always will remember him and I had so much fun. He would laugh, and dance he was an amazing dancer for his age. He agile, and dressed so nice.
He was in world war 2, serving in the Philippines and Japan. He had been married and had children but they divorced. He then married again, and divorced. He lived alone for a long time, with his dogs. After one would die, over the years no matter where we were we would come and burry his dog, say a prayer, dig the hole, we had the R.I.P maker. That he so gently would make for the dogs.
Tony got sick, with prostate cancer. He had battled with it once, and spent years with it free of cancer now at 84 it was back.
I loved Tony he was so different. He taught me a lot about people. He was scared to die. He told me that he scared to death. Tony came to visit us when we lived in northern California, on the coast. Brought his one bulldog with him Mandy.
Oh Rosebud you look so beautiful, he would yell as he is driving up. Big smile Mandy barking in his convertible.
That visit we had a long talk, about death and dying. But most important was love.
Tony was so scared. But he was brave enough to tell me about, his sister who died. The story was amazing, because he saw her after she died. He described everything to me, how she died and what he saw. While he was describing her and how scary it was she appeared next to him. Tony described it was at night and he saw a light coming down the hallway and it looked like his sister, she smiled and was gone. What was that rosebud? Was I crazy with grief? I gently told him she was there behind him right now. ROSEBUD he yelled? How can that be? I said be patient Tony. She began to tell me about a situation that they had been in, she kept saying tell him, and I was. Between his sister and Tony, I had my hands full. Thank god, at that moment Mandy his beloved bulldog started barking and looking behind him. I said that’s your sister, she is here even Mandy sees her. At that moment, his sister said her name, and I blurted it out. Astonished he at once goes outside. He has tears in his eyes as I go after him. He looks at me and says I am dying. I held him for a long time. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done. He was going to die and he knew it.
We talked about death. What was going to happen. What he needed to get in order. Preparation for his last days of life when it came.
He wanted to die at home. After his last dog died. So, did Tony at home with his pictures of his beloved dogs. When he passed he came to visit as I knew he would. He was with his sister, and they were holding hands and running around them was his beloved dogs. I heard him call me, he said “rosebud”? and I turned to see him, smiling and shining like a bright sun. No more cancer, no more pain. He did a little dance, and was gone. He was home, and he wasn’t scared anymore, he wasn’t sick.
He died at 88. He was an amazing man. He taught me a lot about different types of people. Even though he was all macho on the outside he was a tender love on the inside and an amazing friend.
I was rosebud to him. That was special to me, always and forever.
With love Renee