“Bea and Me: January 23”

You know when you connect with someone? Outward circumstances may impede it, nobody else may expect it (“…you and her? I didn’t know you were close…”). Not close, tight, even if you only see each other once a year. And what an annual event that is. But more about that later.


Did you know the sun moved to Aquarius two days ago? All your friends with birthdays from now until February 19 are Aquarians, the water bearers. Let me tell you something about Aquarians (and I have never met an Aquarian who wasn’t deeply, nay fiercely so): we’re not water signs, we’re air signs. That means Aquarians are communicators, humanitarians intent on making the world a better place, they thrive in organizations, big groups of people they can communicate with. And in putting themselves out there, they often make themselves vulnerable, lonely even. Even amid great crowds of friends and loyal supporters. I know the feeling.


OK, so rewind 40 years. It’s the late 70’s in New Jersey. I was working in Assemblyman Cary Edwards’ office, rolling up my sleeves and slugging it out as a poster girl of political nitty-gritty, blue-eyed (literally) and totally committed (still am, actually, it’s the Aquarian thing, remember?). And somehow along the way, in reaching out to help a constituent, I connected with Bea O’Rourke, the Jane Russell to my Monroe, also slugging it out a few towns away in Congressman Andy Maguire’s office. The connection was instantaneous, deep. Not everyone around us approved of our friendship. Hardly anyone around us understood it. No matter. We both believed then and know now that making government and politics work requires bi-partisan servant leadership. It’s what makes the system work, despite different political affiliations. And we both know that the world is a better place for it. Members of Congress: are you listening? The O’Rourke/Wright connection is a national model!


Then we learned that we share the same birthday. Our fates were sealed. Decades later, they still are. Another connection: Bea and Jim’s wedding anniversary is August 8; for me and my late husband Dave, it’s August 22. Here’s another: we each had four children. Here’s another: the sad fact of bereaved parenthood, Bea’s Clare and my Tim. Another connection: the love of the color red. There’s much more, hard to define, mostly intuitive, and watched over by the Blessed Mother.


We celebrated our birthday lunch at the HoHoKus Inn. Sometimes the pure energy of those lunches, of the world-changing conversations fueled by Bea’s gin martinis and my vodka, kept me going many a season afterward. On more than one occasion, we closed the place (and a good thing, too; once, Bea, leaving the table, got caught up in the floor to ceiling drapes. She was covered, helpless. Convulsed with laughter, I was useless to her. Fortunately, because all other diners had left the restaurant by late afternoon, we didn’t make the headlines in the Ridgewood News and were welcomed back the next year. That picture in my mind still kills me every time I think of it!


This year, 1,000 miles separate us. But in my heart today, I’m with her at the HoHoKus Inn. Bea and I, Aquarians to the core, are sisters in faith and spirit.


Bea, this one’s for you. Happy Birthday. Today and forever may you be blessed with abundance in every way. Thank you for being my friend.

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