There was one unbreakable caveat with the aunts and the grandparents: No one would watch the two of us together. The extended family agreed, "Tommy and Rory were not allowed in the same house without parental supervision."
Rory and I fought over any spot on the couch the other was in; the last slice of bacon and battled over who licked the tuna fish bowl after Mom made sandwiches.
When Bob and Pat went out, Rory stayed with the Ryan grandparents or Barbara and Mickey. I stayed with the Pryor-Rode grandparents or Joan and George.
Rory and I had our needs met at all households, but Joannie had bongos, an FM radio and a bullfighter poster on her wall. She had a bar with high stools, and wore clam diggers as she danced and sang around the living room. I kept expecting Trini Lopez to drop in.
Joan and George took me to the beach named after Joan. This was good since the Pryors didn't have a car.
I loved my grandparents, aunts and uncles, but my favorite babysitter was Mom. Sometimes, it was just her and me. She called me her “Cow, Cow, Boogie,” and I called her "Uncle Mommy." We snuggled on our tiny 83rd Street couch watching The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock on Friday nights after Rory conked out. Her smile stopped my clock.I was a lousy artist, a stinky poet, and I had a stutter. None of this disrupted me from trying to make Uncle Mommy laugh. She loved Rory and me like a freight train. Mom died today in 1998. I'm still working on stuff for her.