In pop culture, the term godfather holds heavy connotations. Serious, Italian, violent. Considering ‘godmother,’ nothing particular comes to mind. In practice, most people have at least one godparent, but it many ways the custom of assigning these titles is antiquated and generational – and probably falling out of favor as our society becomes less traditional, and less centrally rooted in religious practice.
In 1987, my parents named their midwife and her husband, a more senior Jewish couple, as my godparents. Growing up, they were surrogate grandparents for me, attending my school functions and keeping me while my parents traveled. I learned about Jewish culture – religious AND social – while enjoying the comfortable surroundings in their early 70s suburban Carrollwood home.
Today, I’m grown, and my relationship with them has changed. Gilbert passed away in 2010 of cancer, ending an illustrious and enviable life as a pioneering college professor and anthropology department head. Lorraine, sprite as ever, continues on in semi-retirement, working at her own pace as a mental health counselor. She takes trips, enjoys her family, and maintains her flexibility with regular (twenty years worth!) yoga and meditation. She and I have regular dates, which I think we both relish. A break from the usual social schedule…
Since Gil’s passing, I’ve noticed a change in her style. New accessories appear, old items are updated, all maintaining her very confident, comfortable, laid-back style. She is a master of neutral tones and simplicity, balanced with flash. Throughout, she pays little attention to brands, even though she blindly picks some of the best. Philip Stein and Michele ceramic watches, Cartier eye- and sun-glasses, Cole Haan silver sneakers.
In many ways, she embodies how a Jewish godmother, with a serious Joysey attitude and the life experience to match, should dress. The male version is what I strive for, even at this stage in life. If I could wear James Perse basics, sneakers, and good accessories every day, I would be a happy clam. Hanging out with Rainy makes me happy, and bodes well for what life, and style, can be after my roaring twenties.