Archive for April, 2010


Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

My mother was wrong. All those years she’d say “You are what you eat.” She was plain wrong. (Not that I ever understood. She thought I was creamed cheese and jelly?)

No, I’m not what I eat; I’m what I hear. Trust me.

As a kid I always had confidence. (Not with girls, of course, but in the classroom, on the ball field—where it counted).

Not only did I have value, but I knew it. And why? Because from Day One my Dad told me. Always. “You’re as smart as anyone,” he’d say. “That’s why it hurts so much — you don’t try.”

As a ten year-old, little league tryouts were at Victory Park. Today it’s a Giant Eagle, but back ‘twas dirt and an endless single file of wannabees fielding grounders as six men judged. We were vying for the few open spots on rosters replete with older kids. “You’re as good as they are,” my dad would urge (and I bought in). He always believed in me, and said so. His confidence made me better than I was.

If my Dad said I was good—I WAS good. So simple. I was what I heard. (Of course, there was a downside: Oh, I made the majors that year— with the juggernaut White Sox— champs of South Euclid. Got the mandatory one bat per game and went 0 for 1960. It was that kind of year).

“You’ll be fine,” came the voice, steadfast—a white James Earl Jones. Brother Hal not of age, there was but one schedule to track. Eschewing folding chairs, Al Bogart stood in foul territory, cigarette in tow, and never missed a pitch. “Level swing. Relax.” Once a night, twice a week: “Level swing. Just relax.”

We made the World Series that year, opening away at Brainard Park. Started! (Manager Fred Wendel opted to get me in and out early). As such, when Mr. Jackson flashed the “bunt” sign I dutifully signaled back. Squaring around it popped over the onrushing third baseman. When the dust settled I was standing atop second with the second biggest smile in the park.

“Attaboy” he called. And from a distance it meant “Knew you could do it.”

Alas, I AM what I hear. For better or worse. Indeed, was there not a time all I heard was crap?

“You’re a loser!” she’d say. “What kind of clients do you have? Why don’t you do this? ” “What’s wrong with you?” Insults, just like compliments, can be self-fulfilling prophesies.

I remember when I got to recovery. Guys would talk about how rough it was to stop drinking. They’d share stories of difficulties accepting powerlessness—acknowledging personal failings.

Then I’d get up and they’d laugh. “Hey, I’d note…I’ve got no problem with that. That’s the easy part.” And I’d mean it. That WAS the easy part.
Truth was, having heard “Loser” for so long—having been dubbed a “Failure” so often….well, acceptance was the easiest part of the process.
Drinking, I sensed, was just another thing I couldn’t do right.

It’s been a while.

And yes, I’m still what I hear…And with a TONE that’s bird-sweet, in a voice like Walter Cronkite… what I hear these days is that people are loving and that….I am loved.

It’s a message sent by family and friends.
On line and in rooms.
With words and prayers.
With thoughts and deeds.
And even with just…knowing smiles.

In times of struggle, I feel loved. In times of doubt, I feel loved.
’Tis a message not unheard or unappreciated. And it makes me, to be sure, better than I am. And it makes days better than they are.

Last night it came again…in my son’s frustration.

We were on Skype.
“Dad,” he begged, “Promise me—I want you to promise me you won’t go on the mo-ped.”
“No,” he shot back, “I want you to PROMISE.”

A long day was ending and five hundred miles separated father from son. But he told me he loved me…and he kept me off the mo-ped.

And even my Dad would say that’s better than a bunt double!


Saturday, April 24th, 2010

My father used to ask “Bruce, when I get old and can’t see anymore, will you read me the sports section?” “Sure,” I’d respond and he’d deal another hand. The good news was my Dad never went blind; the bad news—he died young.

Which leads me, in an off/course way to today. Sitting in Cleveland, Ohio, facing a weekend ripe for family, my kids are gone—each of them the legal resident of another state. (Trust me, I’ve checked driver’s licenses).

“The children don’t stay—they just don’t stay.” It’s a lament heard often ‘round here, and ‘tis true. When school’s done so are the kids. They just don’t stay!

Stuart’s fled. As did Walt’s and half of Art’s. Bonnie and Bob have four between them— three/quarters gone. And Alan’s—heck! They never even got here. I won’t speak for other parents, but me? I’ve got blood on my hands. How much of our town, REALLY, did I expose them to? Did I not drop the ball?


Cleveland, Ohio spreads thirty-plus miles across the wondrous south shore of Lake Erie. It’s a town of interweaving ethnicities, a mix of old and new, staid and eclectic, traditional and chic. There is everything you’d desire and more. If you look.

I wanted no more than I had. For this my kids lost out and today, I suffer.

Growing up on the east side we rarely went west. Oh, the stadium (in a way); it stretched from East 9th to West 3rd. . And then there was the time Wieder had us drive to Cudell Recreation for a basketball tournament. Maxing out as we crossed the Cuyahoga River, did we not feel like Lewis and Clark?

Our landscape was so narrow then, (as mine remains). Indeed, have I not lived my entire life within two square miles?

But Cleveland? It was and is “The Best Location In The Nation”.

Cleveland’s Orchestra performs globally. Did we ever go there?

Had Michael at a Browns’ playoff game in bitter cold, but The Art Museum? Or the Science Center? Sat courtside for the Cavs, but never once walked Tremont and maybe twice strolled the zoo.

Come to think of it, we weren’t much better with the girls. Wait! There was Gymnastics World on Tuesdays. (Schlepping west, Jamie sat shotgun—always, and inevitably, swinging south on 77, minutes from Brecksville, Stacy would fall asleep. Always.)

Cleveland is a treasure trove waiting to be unlocked. The Emerald Necklace of Metroparks, the nature preserves that boasted green space before it was fashionable….the beautiful churches, synagogues, museums, libraries…

The real Rock Hall Of Fame. The Theater District.

I know. I know. The kids are gone—the toothpaste is out of the tube.
Or is it? One thing about children, though: they tend to HAVE children.

Maybe it’s not too late! Maybe I’ll get the chance….perhaps we all will…

To… be savvy, and with grandkids in tow uncover the jewel, walk a few miles, risk a few mosquito bites, and remember why I stayed.

At home.

               “My world is our world
               And this world is your world
               And your world is my world
               And my world is your world is mine.”

                                  The BeeGees


Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

I’ve come to value life not by how I spend my years, but, quite
frankly, by how I spend my days. Yesterday I marveled in the ordinary.

5:00AM Woke up pre-alarm and of course, the TV was on. Each night I fall asleep to Letterman and yet by osmosis, each morning, like clockwork, I wake up to MSNBC. Always.

5:10 AM Prayers done I entered shower; the boys followed me, and sprawled aside the tub. They fear water but love me.

5:30 AM Drying off, I checked phone and caught note from Janice in Columbus. We traded facebook messages about the race. Dressed, as I do daily, watching Willie Geist host “Way Too Early.” (Half Opie-half Bobby Snyder).

6:00 AM Show ended. Turned off tube to meditate. Today’s reading hits home. (They all do lately).

6:45 AM Having fed the Darryls and suited up, I’m ready to show up.

7:15 AM Drove to Parma McDonald’s @ Ridge Road and I-480. Waiting to meet a new client I note that everyone in the restaurant looks to be a direct descendant of the Third Reich.

8:00 AM Back in car, took a ten minute call from sponsee Dennis. The
minute we’re done Brandt rang for another ten minutes. I can
be honest though, and finally told him I was exiting at Chagrin,
to meet someone for breakfast. Had to go.

8:30 AM Oatmeal, strawberries and two poached eggs at Corky’s. No
bread or coffee. Fat Murray was at the counter and seeing me asked how I was doing. “Still standing,” I replied to his nod.
(We’ve had that same colloquy—to the word—for maybe ten years).

9:20 AM Euclid Municipal Court: Met client, got retainer, and responded to each and every question I’d answered the previous night by telephone. Pled her “Not Guilty” and left.

10:20 AM East Cleveland Municipal Court: Arrived just in time for short, rote, uncontested hearing. (It all adds up). Upon exiting, I turned my phone on to a text from Rochelle. Not only is she a grandmother again, but Nathan had twins. The brit milah is at six in Acacia’s party room. I’ve got a board meeting at Y-Haven at 5:30—had to make a command decision. While still in the car Terri called with a war story. (Over time she’s never wavered—with Bonnie, two of the few Beachwood housewives never to judge me by the color of my divorce decree).

11:00 AM Hit office. Squandered fifteen minutes or so reading email and obits on line before Facebook and JDate and, oh yes, finally looking at my bank account. Not necessary to check donations to the cancer fund, of course. Hal updates me 24/7. That having been said, I looked for new contributions before and after the obits, and yes—in between each glance at Facebook, JDate, and the bank account.

Decided to deal with things face up and emailed Terry at Y-Haven. She knows Rolo as the one I spent three years “not dating.” Gave T the truth and nothing but—that I needed and wanted to hit the bris and was passing on the meeting. All good. (Pausing, I thought about the good old days when I would have manufactured an elaborate excuse).

11:30 PM Manicure at The Locksmith, Lander Circle. Betty, my old baby-sitter was out. Had to explain to yet another new person that I want no polish, no buff, no sauce…Get me in and out, please.

12:00 PM Headed to Chesterland for coffee with my food mentor. En route I hit the bank, the gas station, and Office Max.

It had occurred to me in the salon that our mother had an old,
gray, steel hairdryer—chair and headset. Emailed Hal to ask
what ever happened to it. Hadn’t seen it since 1960.

*NOTE* Typically trips out east present opportunities to think, sing, and otherwise clear my head. Yesterday ‘twas not the case…

About 12:10 the phone rang—Aunt Helen:
“Bruce, did you call me?”
“No, why?”
“My phone rang. Was it Harold?”
“I don’t know—“

“Would you please call him? He’s up. Ask him if he called me.
You know, I hate to bother him.”

“Well, if it was him, then he has to answer two calls—mine, and then yours!”
“Perhaps he’ll call back.”
(So much for clearing my head).
As I pulled into parking lot Hal wrote back: “Ed sold it.”

12:55 PM Short meeting ended and I shot up 306 toward Rt. 6. Made daily call to sponsor. Stopped at the Heinen’s salad bar on
Route 44 in Chardon and noticed that every single store employee had blond hair and blue eyes.

1:30 PM Geauga County Court: Contested pre-trial in this, the third separate filing for divorce between one truly dysfunctional couple. Need I say more?

3:30 PM Left court. Message from H said we can expect donation from cousin Murray. We’re fast approaching $3,000.00.

4:15 PM Back at office and after reviewing snail mail, checking Email,
peaking at Facebook, JDate and (of course), the Bogart Family
Page of the cancer fund, left for the day.

4:45 PM Grocery store then bank again. My law clerk called and wanted to meet with today’s filings. Told him to put papers through top of my car’s sun roof. It would be outside Nordstrom in ten minutes. (Had to pick up gifts for the newborns)!

5:45 PM Arriving at Acacia, am greeted by the same warm family that graced my life a decade ago. Rochelle was wearing a yarmulke and smile; her ex held a baby. Hugged Matthew and the kids as Tammy approached.
“Bruce,” she admonished: “Did you burn that denim shirt yet?…Look at you, you know how to dress when you want to!”

6:50 PM The mitzvah concluded, I headed to Three Village for a recovery meeting. One hour with “my people”—my tonic.

8:00 PM Stopped at brother’s to drop off check. Still paying Mom’s funeral, (in case you’re reading this, Ed).

8:05 PM Hal met me in the driveway and reminded me that Ed can’t read.

8:15 PM Feeding the boys supper, I recalled my Dad’s day-ending line: “My ass is dragging,” he’d say.

The balance of Tuesday was spent in rest, pure rest. A new Law And
Order CI at 10. Seinfeld, then Letterman as eyes closed. Somewhere in the
wee hours of the morning CBS again became MSNBC. Arising today, it
was, again, “Way To Early.” And still, I was so grateful—-

For another day.


Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Stacy called me a “sucker” yesterday then apologized. I wasn’t mad and told her so, but she apologized again. The underlying issue wasn’t important and, running late for temple, surrounded by my favorite ex-wife, it was neither time nor place to converse. The anger, if any, was at myself.

Driving down Cedar toward Park my past refocused.

A nutcracker once told me I had “trust issues.” (He also termed them “abandonment” issues, but that word hurts too much). Through limited talks we cited multiple episodes where people, (always women, he noted), pulled the rug out from under me.

Like our parents’ divorce: In a time when marriages weren’t ending, our mother dumped our father. Tom pointed his finger. Right or wrong, he asserted, in an era of two-parent homes, she expelled my hero.

(To be sure, our Dad resurrected and by college all was well. Fact is, in my adolescent years he was not unlike our ancestors wandering post-Egypt’s wilderness. Ohio State became the Promised Land when we were together again. Tom, though, said there was residue).

Then there was the case of the forgetful fiancé, The Jersey Girl: Somehow, right after school, as I trekked to Army duty, she forgot to write down our engagement, to calendar our wedding date. (In retrospect, perhaps a note tucked under her diamond would have helped? Remember, those were the days before Post-Its). Tom said although she ultimately dismissed Duane, or whomever the stoner was, and though we did marry, that I never quite got over it; I buried the hurt.

Buried it deep, the doc said, and not without consequence. HT FIB, he called it: a High Tolerance For Inappropriate Behavior. His corollary:
So much wanting to BELIEVE in people, I trust too many, too often and for far too long. His pronouncement: I unintentionally bend over backwards, ignoring the obvious, searching for perfect answers in an imperfect world. Welling up as he told me….he was hitting too close to home…I shared a bit more…

About three years ago: a friend owed me money, but promised first class airfare to Vegas and three high-end rooms for my family of five. With pockets on empty the man had credit (or so he said).

“It’s gonna be great, guys, I told the kids.” “Just get to Vegas in October.” Jamie and Eric opted out but the others were down.
“Dad, before we book our flights, are you sure you’ve got free rooms?’
“Please, Michael.” (Was his doubt in me or my pal? Was he recalling the guaranteed publication of my book? Or the part I’d been promised in the Pacino movie)?

Due diligence was in order. Each time the guy resolutely affirmed that the deal was done. “No problem,” he said. “Tell your children to relax. I’m just trying to get the best package.”
“OK, When’s a good time to get back to you?”

Spring came and went. On my word, Michael and Meredith bought tickets; Stace and Jace followed suit. Meanwhile, my friend was looking for the best deal. And looking.

Late summer Michael exclaimed “Dad, every day ticket prices go up. Why can’t you just admit the guy lied to you?”

A few weeks later (a few more calls from Michael), and I folded. Ponying up coach fare was the easy part; three retail rooms for three nights at The Wynn (as nice as it was), was a financial enema. Still, we had a ball!

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I turned into the circle outside the shul and entered. The minyan, buzzing Hebrew at the speed of light, sounded like a swarm of bees. It was enough to snap me from my past and (perhaps) back to the future.

People, places and things HAVE let me down. Still, there’s something comforting about this place, Miller Chapel. Something consistent, something warm, something fuzzy.

The small room, the blue-on-blue décor, the 50’s woodwork. The visuals of days gone by, of simpler times…when the good guys always won.

Nothing bad ever happens in God’s house. It’s good to sit here, in peace…in prayer….

It’s the place where, to this day, every sucker gets an even break.


Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Ask my family and friends. Most would say Bruce is great at taking bad news. They are right. It’s not so much that I “take” it as that I deal with it. Time’s taught me that acceptance is not only the answer to my problems but the key to my serenity. And I remain serene.

It wasn’t always that way. Though never the Earl Weaverish micro-manager, I used to draw boundaries differently. My thinking was that IF I said this or IF I did that, people, places and things would “see the light” and just fall in line. ‘Tain’t necessarily so.

I got some crap today. Not ripe for sharing, but crap. The good news is I have tools to move me through it.

First, there’s temple at 6. Can there be a safer harbor than The Park Synagogue sanctuary? At 7 I’ll meet with my sponsor. Ten solid minutes of venting will end when he urges me to “Go call and-so…he’s got a problem.” Then John will smile and remind me what I already know: that God has a plan and either I believe in my God or I don’t…and that God is either everything or He’s nothing. Finally, he’ll assure me that all I can do is be the best Bruce I can be. And trust.

Some days….(today, for example),…this is easier said than done. Those days, and YES, TODAY, I still trust.

My kids say it’s hokey; (one calls it “existential’). Fact is God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. (Or right enough). Things will work out for the best, whatever that means. And life will go on.

Am I stumbling? A bit. Do I hurt? Of course. But do I believe? Always.
There’s a song on my Ipod, “Candle In The Wind.” Not the way I go through life —like Marilyn Monroe. Remember the lyric:

              “It seems to me you lived your life

               Like a candle in the wind—

               Never knowing who to cling to

               When the rain set in…”


My belief tells me that everything will happen as it should. My faith gives me strength to keep on keeping on. And when it pours, like it did today, I humbly thank God that I’m around to wait for the sunshine.


Sunday, April 11th, 2010


             “Folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

                                         Abe Lincoln

 I’m in an interesting place these days. Grave issues yes, but confidence consumes me. Spring is breaking and trusting things will fall into place… for the most part…I smile.

Yesterday as sunshine melted the brisk air, singing out the tunes of “Les Mis”, eyeing a wondrous rest-of-the-weekend, I turned left into Aunt Helen’s driveway.

My polar opposite is this lady. Teasing 96, sad to say, where most see things half-full, she views them half-empty (with a crack in the glass…and a steady leak which is someone else’s fault). I AM sensitive to her life’s path, but is she not, at some level, responsible for her own happiness? Alas, Helen Bogart still believes (to paraphrase Victor Hugo), that there is nothing as dourful than an idea whose time has come. Still, on this lustrous Saturday morning, facing our twenty minute ride to Dr. Lester, I knew that not even the ra-ta-tat-tat of her proddings would rob me of my glee. Our aunt, of course, gave it the old college try:

“Bruce,” she opened, “Have you spoken to your brother about Columbus? He should not even consider going ….”
“I will… but we’ve got tickets for a concert and—“
(She heard nothing as her verbal barrage continued):
“When is it, after all?” she interrupted.
“Not ‘til Memorial Day.”
“Even so, speak to him now.”
“OK,” I said, resigned to keep the peace and more importantly, keep MY

“And another thing…YOU should not be going either. After all, can you
(She was treading on thin ground now).
“Do you even exercise?”
“Aunt Helen, “ I interjected, ready to trump her: “You forget I was in the
“Oh please”.

We traveled on quietly My aunt has a love-hate relationship with her eye
doctor. (She loves to tell me why she hates him). Indeed, each ounce of
warmth and friendship he engenders is interrupted 180 degrees from
its intent. Yesterday, as usual, they got off on the wrong foot:

“Good to see you” he greeted her. “Another big birthday
coming up! Tell me, how many will that be?”

A chill flattened the room. Fact is our aunt can’t handle engaging people;
she has no patience. As such, when the good doctor suggested she buy a
telescope, or rearrange her furniture to better view the TV…well, she met
each entreaty with an audible grunt.

“Do you have a computer?” he inquired.
“Dr. Lester, you KNOW I don’t have a computer.”
“Well, do you know what a Kindle is?”
“Dr. Lester, please examine my eyes.”

The silence was broken only when he asked her to read the chart.

“Dr. Lester, please. Surely I remember that the first letter is an E.“
“Can you see it?”
“Not necessarily. Do you have any other charts?”
“Yes, but can you see this one?” came the rejoinder.
“Wonderful. I’m proud of you.”

The doctor just couldn’t stand prosperity:

“Tell me, Miss Bogart, do you get out much?”
“The weather’s changing. Do you have someone to walk with?”
“Perhaps you should hire someone…maybe a cleaning lady? You could
walk together!”
“I’ll think about it,” she said meekly, dismissively, yet in a manner that
said clearly “I WON’T think about it”).

We left minutes later, but not until they jousted one more time:
“I’d like to see you in nine months,” he said. “Perhaps December.”
“That’s eight months.” (she pointed out).

Our ride home was anticlimactic. True, her commentary continued, but I
treated it like background music.

“Why isn’t his diploma up? How long has he been in that office?”
“Why does he smile?”
“Why does he thank you for bringing me? Are you U.P.S.? He should
thank ME for coming…or simply say nothing!”

Crossing Green Road, in fleeting empathy soon to be regretted, I
finally interjected:

“He means well.”
“You know, I would walk with you. I would come over and we could walk
together. Really.”

(What in the WORLD was I thinking?)

“I don’t want to walk. Let Dr. Lester walk. You could take me to dinner.”


“Michael Jacobson takes me to dinner. Why is it a relative stranger enjoys
my company but my family…”

Her comment induced an acute attack of Jewish Guilt:

“Let’s have dinner. This week. Thursday would be perfect.”
“No,” she interrupted, “It has to be a weekend. I deserve a weekend.”
“OK,” I assented, realizing again that no good deed goes unpunished.

We crossed Warrensville, stopped at The Dollar Store and then I
dropped her off. She trudged up her stairs.

It was barely noon. The sun was shining and the day still
young. Like a freed Jean Valjean I drove up Cedar to rejoin a world
that was half-full.

I was still smiling.


Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Life continues to get in the way of plans. Glaring out at steady rain, delaying an inevitable road excursion, I am thinking…

Monday, as the sun shone brightly over tropical Cleveland, I made Thursday plans to visit an elderly client. She lives an hour away in some rural area that still forbids Jews. We set it for late afternoon—my thought being that with car top open, I’d drive to the music of my Ipod … in refuge from the real world. They didn’t tell me, though, that three days later it would pour. Still, as one who thrives on the unexpected, I’ll soon be en route.

Last week’s trip to Columbus brought emotional shelter and yet—don’t worry— the real world was right here awaiting my return. As such, sensitive issues, logistical issues still abound. Thank God I’ve had a balanced support group to share with—none of whom judge me by my feelings.

Walt gave me counsel; Hal lent an ear. Both “get” that as I play on this gridiron of multiple tough and intriguing life issues, I no longer stand at midfield. All the while respecting the present… clearly my eye’s on the future.

At one goal post Tom, my friend/psychologist, reminds me of his 2006 diagnosis: HT FIB. (High Tolerance For Inappropriate Behavior). “You can be nice without being a doormat,” he urges. One hundred yards away, under the other crossbars, is my sponsor. If my motives are pure, John says, my actions will be fine. Better yet, he assures: “You’re responsible for the effort, NOT the outcome.”

I am within field goal range of some major decisions. About me, but not JUST me. About the future. About goals. And I’ve looked in the mirror. Closely.

Love? Timing? Faith? Fear?

Four hours on Marc’s elbow at Mountaineer RETAUGHT me a valuable lesson: If you’ve got the best hand you’ve got to play it.

I just need to look at my cards one more time.


Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

“It’ll be OK, little boy.” That’s what he used to tell me. “It’ll be OK.”
No one but no one could dry my tears like him…ever. And I suppose that in spite of all my faith, all my confidence, yesterday I needed to hear it again.

A sunshiny day— I would be seeing Brother Ermine, but the mindset was on late afternoon and my Dad at the cemetery. On this first Columbus visit since Hal’s diagnosis I needed my father.

It was a top-down day, a cleansing day and indeed therapeutic. Mark cooked a Pesadik lunch and afterward I accompanied him on a quick errand to the west side. He has a red Porsche convertible, and freeway wind in our faces we shared quality time. (It occurred to me only later that when Al Bogart died in ’85 Jews weren’t allowed in Porsches).

Has it really been 25 years? A quarter century since Hal and I told Grandma she’d lost a son…since I kissed his cold forehead as he lay on a wooden slab at Schoedinger Funeral Home…since the rabbi, in his eulogy, referred to “Bruce and HOWARD?”

Oh well.

The plan was to pick Harriet up at 5 and head to the cemetery. She was the love of his life when Death took him from his bride on their fifteenth anniversary. She remains a strong fabric in our family and yesterday she was not above yelling:

“Turn the engine off!” she urged as I pulled in her driveway.
“But I only want to go in and wash my face.”
“Turn your engine off! What’s wrong with you!!!”
And I did, (not so much because I agreed, but because I respected). Two minutes and one turn of the key later, though, we were en route.

There’s a ritual I’ve enjoyed these two and a half decades. Each gravesite visit, after reciting Kaddish, after placing the pebble, I always remind myself of one thing he taught me, one saying, one pearl inculcated over the years—from the sublime to the ridiculous. From “Have compassion for those less fortunate” to “Don’t pass the Queen Of Spades without protection.” He gave me so much.

Yesterday was no different. Harriet had slid to the right, pausing by her late parents, but I didn’t budge. Staring at his stone, sensing it was time to move over, to pay respect to Murray and Claire, I froze. Just stood there thinking….thinking… picturing that black and white snapshot of Al Bogart and his boys on the steps of the Hopkins Avenue house in Cleveland…So long ago.

I thought about the ironic symmetry of my life. Dad, the best friend of my spring and Hal, the best friend of my fall. That my father dried my tears and my brother made me smile. That Al taught with words, that Hal taught by example. And then I realized, clearly, that if my father could put his arms around me one more time he’d be telling me “It’ll be OK, little boy. It’ll be OK.”

And with that I rejoined Harriet.

       “Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
       Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
       No one could be, so gentle and so lovable
       Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.

       Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
       And with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter

       Oh, my pa-pa, so funny, so adorable
       Always the clown so funny in his way
       Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
       Deep in my heart I miss him so today.”

                E. Fisher