Victoria’s Secrets: Celebrations galore

Esti Brahver, Penny Graulich and Rita Stein

It was my treat to have my children with me during their Presidents’ Week vacation from school and have that special time together. I also reconnected with friends from Westhampton Beach and the great Father Alex Karloutsos from Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons.

Before the children arrived, I partied at Barry Brahver’s birthday celebration with my Westhampton Beach friends at the rocking Cafe Centro in West Palm Beach.

Birthday boy Barry Brahver

We all joined Barry and his wife Esti at the restaurant for dinner and dancing to a superb trio of singers and a DJ. They had us all dancing the night away!

Celebrating continued a few nights later when Rita Stein and her husband invited us to their home for Michelle and Steve Barnett’s anniversary party. I was happy that my friend Donna Schneier was out of the hospital and joined me in the festivities at their beautiful home.

When the children arrived, we were blessed that the sun shone brightly in the cloudless blue skies each day, giving us the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the cool water on the Intercoastal and at the beach and pool. It was the first time that I went to the beach after being here for two months, so it was a treat for me, too!

I was delighted to see the kids enjoying the waves of the ocean on their surfboards. It felt so good to put my feet in the sand and have the ocean lapping my legs. My grandson Jonah and I took a precious, quiet walk on the beach and I forgot how much I love the feel of the sand between my toes and time alone with him!

Family fun on the Intercoastal!

My friend Ted Vassilev was kind enough to lend me the captain of his yacht so my family could spend an afternoon traversing the beautiful waters of the Intercoastal. 

When the captain pointed out Sylvester Stallone’s home, Addy and the kids waved vigorously and sure enough, Sylvester was on his patio and waved back to us!

Captain Mike “parked” the yacht off Peanut Island, where the Kennedy Bunker had been erected during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

The kids jumped off the boat with snorkels and swam to the beach. They hoped to see some fish, but mostly had fun exploring.

The week flew by and I felt a hole in my heart when I had to say goodbye, but the memory of their smiling faces is etched in my mind. 

A day after they left, I was delighted to be invited to Father Alex’s “Breakfast Buddies Club” that usually is held at the Capri Hotel in Southampton on Saturday mornings during the summer.

At breakfast with (seated) Tony Veizis, Margo Catsimatidis, Mayor Dean Trantalis, (standing) Father Peter Zugras and Father Alex
Father Alex (l.) holding John Catsimatidis’ (r.) new biographical book.

Father Alex was visiting his son Michael and his family, who live in Fort Lauderdale and happily organized a breakfast at fellow Greek Spiro Marchelos’ Anglins Beach Cafe. I was so happy to see friends John (who leads the weekly breakfasts) and Margo Catsimatidis, Dr. Peter Michalos and Tony Veizis.

Father Alex introduced me to Dean Trantalis, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, and Theo Poulopoulos, commissioner of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a small 7-mile enclave hugging the ocean where the breakfast was held.

I also met State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who spoke to us about the state of Florida and its influx of new residents, where high insurance rates have a big impact when people think they’re coming to Florida for lower cost of living. How ironic!

After meeting many new friends at breakfast. I drove 35 minutes to meet my cousin Peter Ostrowsky, who lives in Miami, at the 15th Street Fisheries perched overlooking the Intercoastal in Fort Lauderdale.

Peter and I at 15th Street Fisheries in Fort Lauderdale

We sat and chatted for hours, watching the many yachts and boats coming and going as the bridge opened and closed to allow them to pass. I was happy to be catching up on family history and talking about the bittersweet memories of our cousin Pebe — the three of us grew up within a block of each other — and her husband Jan, who both had died this past year.

While Pete and I reminisced about our family. I was delighted to talk on the phone with his son Ben, who is a librarian and is taking on the “job” of checking our family’s ancestry.

It was a sweet ending to a week of many celebrations.