Archive for August, 2010


Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

A girl blew me off recently and it just didn’t compute. Not close. Still, even at 60, post-romantic stress disorder has a three day shelf life. Progress, (as they say), not perfection.

Nothing, but nothing compares to the first time I had it broken off on me. If I only knew then what I’ve somewhat learned now: how not to hurt.

It was 1972, Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I was the token Jew serving Uncle Sam in a sea of duck-hunting southerners, (some of whom were not yet convinced The Civil War had ended). My fiancé—also my first girlfriend ever— was left to mind the store (and the blue & white Plymouth Duster) in Columbus.

An eight week Basic Training began January 3, yet by the Ides Of March the drip of her letters had stopped. There was no internet, of course, nor cell phone. You’d wait long lines to use payphones…and I would. By St. Patrick’s Day she wasn’t picking up. There were no answering machines either—just ringing and ringing. Fact was, the lady ignored not only telephone rings but diamond rings. Our engagement, (shall we say?) didn’t take.

Was I the only guy my generation to get a “Dear John” letter? Hardly, (although I can’t name another). Truth be known though, I was a physical and emotional virgin, newly-arrived at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, and devastated.

The call to my Dad found Harriet.
“Oh, Bruce…I’m so sorry.”
“Where’s my father?”
“I’ll find him.”

What a support system I had, even then! Remember: no texting, no paging. Still, she’d “find him.”

Back to the barracks…to sleep. Waking up I found the note taped to my bunk. “Report to CQ.” Being summoned to Company Quarters was like being sent to the principal’s office. No good could come of it. (Or so I thought).

“Your father called, Troup…“ the uniform spoketh. “He’ll be here Saturday.” Disdain in his eyes, my Drill Instructor clearly saw me as a pampered “college kid”; just as succinctly I read him to be a redneck anti-Semite. (We were both right).

Days later the cavalry arrived. Pastel short-sleeved dress shirt, tie and cigarette, Al Bogart entered San Antonio as Sherman had Georgia. Oddly, all he did was smile. Even more bizarrely, he took me to the zoo. There we spent an afternoon walking, talking, calming…

“Some day you’ll look back at this and laugh.”
“I doubt it…”
We joked a bit. He recalled the Vicki fiasco, then Marilyn’s sister. I’d survived each crisis.
“This too will pass, little boy.”

He hugged me, yet the prisms of his eyes even more than his words renewed me. My smile was coming; I was turning the corner.

“What about the car? I mumbled.
“It’s insured, “ he counseled. “Forget about it.”
Then, using the old man’s vernacular I asked him:
“What if she winds up in a tree?”
“Then I’ll call you,” he said, adding “You’re not that lucky!”
(We laughed together with that one, and I knew then that the old man, too, was hurt).

Decades passed before my heart again broke. Father gone, nine years post-divorce, I was licking wounds but mending faster.

“B,” you know what your problem is?” offered Bob. “You’ve never had a girlfriend before. Breaking up is just part of it.” Correct he was—but who was I to know? I’m looking for Hollywood endings.

Alan says I have “a soft spot for Bobby” and he’s right. It’s for things like that. Bob knows what I don’t, or close enough. Perception is reality.

And now…in recent weeks—that twinge again. Not the 70s’ pain of course, but a dull sense of rejection tempered more by wisdom than knowledge. My cup, though, remains half-full. Grateful I can still feel, I’m thankful that the first cut is indeed the deepest…

Three days to rebound? I can handle that anytime. All and all it’s just another brick in the wall.


Saturday, August 28th, 2010

The little one had a birthday. Not just any birthday (by the way). The kid turned 28. Closer to 30 than 25…and if you can’t grasp the significance, just ask a 57 year-old what it’s like turning 58.

Our baby’s no longer a baby.

The others evaporated; I thought SHE’D stay. The others flew east—she went west. Degree in one hand, Coach bag on another, she too was Gone with the wind…to the Windy City. Not coming back.

It’s OK, though. Somehow it fits. She fits. Anywhere.

Long before Everybody Loved Raymond, everybody loved Stacy. From days in a carrying case with Rocky to afternoons as a manikin in storefronts… to nights under the stars with Jason.

Everybody loves Stacy.

She is a “people person” continually touching people. No wonder she’s in sales: that too fits.

The word “friend” has been devalued by Facebook, but Rooney defies odds. Maintaining ties everywhere, (real ties), she still cares, shares, listens and glistens to a myriad of people she’ll reach out and touch. To this day she personifies Hands Across America.

Yesterday they reached back. As she fought mosquitoes on a lake with Sister Sarah, they reached back.

From her first roommate to her first boyfriend. From school friends to camp friends to business associates. They reached back.

The mother of kids she sat, the sister of a sister-in-law. Cousins from the coast. The kid brother of a best friend. Dan Carter.

They reached back.

We spoke last night. At day’s end. I was driving back from Columbus when she called. Twice Ms. Bohrer put me on hold; once she had to call me back. Other callers (you know). Other well-wishers. I get that. I understand.

Everybody Loves Stacy.


Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

There was no reason to be pals. Born across the river, he still stayed in Strongsville. I, on the other hand, was a product of Cleveland’s Miracle Mile. Further, he was a biker—had been to Sturgis for the rally. Me? Can’t change a tire. Sure we’re both lawyers, but truth be known, Greg was a fireman first. Me? Can’t light a match.

We had different games (even then). Ten years my junior, Greg has that innocent look with just a twinge of “bad boy.” The ladies loved it. Me? I can look naïve, but smell “safe.” It doesn’t play as well.

We met five or six years ago, though, and something clicked. So much so that— incredibly— this Saturday night I’ll offer a toast at his wedding— at his request. God truly does have a sense of humor.

Actually, it was laughter that first bound our friendship. This white bread mensch Republican is not only one of the wittiest people I know, but he shares (with me) one fundamental belief: Nothing, NOTHING, is inappropriate if it is funny. There is, for us, no line that can’t be crossed for the good joke. It is a precept honored each time we convene.

The second tie to bind was honesty; Greg doesn’t hold back. I need people in my life that will tell me what I don’t want to hear. He did that—does that.

It was the middle of the last decade and I was encumbered by a chaotic relationship. On any given Sunday it was on or off. “Susie’s having a New Year’s party,” Greg invited. “You can come, but you can’t bring HER.”

By the next summer my love life had hit a new low.

“It’s over,” I grimaced plaintively.
“No it’s not, Bruce,” he cautioned. “This thing won’t end until she ties you to a rope on the back of a pick-up truck and drags you down a hill.”


(He was right).

Still… though humor is the vehicle and candor the cornerstone, the best part of our friendship is that we get and respect each other. Oh, yeah…and still play like kids in a sandbox.

I went to the party that New Year’s Eve. Alone. One lap around the talent pool, I pulled Greg aside.

Pointing at two women, I had to ask: “Are they playing for the other team?”

Clearly I’d impressed Brother Greg. “Yeah, how’d you pick up on it?”
“Please,” I admonished: “You’re not dealing with an amateur.”

It so happened that as we spoke, our friend, fresh from divorce court was hitting on one of them. His chair was angled into hers.

“Mark has no idea,” I gestured.
“I see no reason to tell him,” answered Greg.
(Mark was to invest the guts of his evening to no avail).

Greg and Susie were just beginning then. By Sunday they’ll be one. In the interim, our course, our paths crossed less. He was building a relationship; I was rebuilding a life. The years, though, were good to both of us.

It’s curious, this toast thing. I want to wish him well…them well. Yet I suppose he’ll want me to be funny.

I don’t want to short-change my friends. Greg Schneider is one of the most honorable men I’ve ever met. He would be, even if he never made me laugh. And, as water seeks its own level, he’s found his Susie.

For both of them it is cause to smile….not to laugh.


Sunday, August 22nd, 2010


Saturday afternoon. Rain halted, weather cooled, there was a calmness, a pristine feel to the fresh air. ‘Twas the perfect time to walk. Seven laps: two miles for just me, my music…and my thoughts.

Half-way through, the ipod, with Amy-fresh material, blared a song I’d never heard. Then, my index finger poised to change tunes, in a genre frowned on in the Jewish community, Johnny Cash sang out:

        “…Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
        And you’re the one I need…”

It made me think, feel grateful, then think some more.

Hal, the other night I met someone. We were out of town (in Tremont) when the question came: “Are you close with your brother?” (She’d heard about Bobby and Stuart—even knew some of the “Old Geezers” at Wednesday’s breakfast). My answer was immediate and direct: “He is my best friend.”

        ”…A cardinal sang just for me
        And I thanked him for the Song
        Then the sun went slowly down the west
        And I had to move along
        These are some of the things
        On which my mind and spirit feed;
     But Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
        And you’re the ones I need…”

Kids: We are separated—500 miles to the east, 350 heading left—Wish it weren’t so. The travel agent swears, though: it wasn’t me that moved! Just know that in spite of email, in spite of rhythmic contact, (skype and all), I miss you guys. Bell Telephone used to run an ad claiming “Long distance is the next best thing to being there.” Somewhat misleading, I’d say—there is no second place.

        “…So when this day was ended
        I was still not satisfied
        For I knew everything I touched
        Would wither and would die
        And LOVE is all that will remain
        And grow from all these seed;

Haley, you are a gift to us from God. You are older and stronger now than when first born. Even prettier, I suspect. We miss you. It’s a funny thing about holding a baby. One never knows who is holding whom….or who benefits more.

        “…Mother Nature’s quite a Lady
        But you’re the one I need”

        Flesh And Blood need Flesh And Blood
        And you’re the one I need!….”


Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Friends since age 5, you’d think we’d had all conceivable conversations. In July, though, I retrieved this voice mail:

“B,” said the recording…”I know everything about you except one thing. Were you bottle-fed or breast-fed as a kid? Please call me back.”

Stuart Fenton is arguably the most conservative person I know—politically, socially, financially. Fair, irreverent, mischievous and loyal, a Puritan without top hat, he is the perfect antidote to Brother Bob and myself. And today, our friend of a lifetime, the Jewish Bill O’Reilly, turns 61.

When Maris broke Ruth’s home run record his 61 got an asterisk. Stuart, too, deserves one. History will footnote our buddy as follows:

• For decades beginning in the second half of the twentieth
century he demonstrated amazing consistency
ignoring social advances and thriving nonetheless.

It’s not that Stuart lives in the past; he doesn’t. It’s just that in spite of long term marriage to an enlightened woman and in spite of material successes in the modern world, he remains, by and large, the same person he was in the ‘60’s. No, not “by and large…” EXACTLY.

I remember those days. Vividly. They were wonder years.

Living two doors apart, we convened daily at the school yard. Even then he was warm, stubborn and funny. He used to tease Jimmy Masseria about his aunt. “Aaaaaaaaaaaagnes!” he’d scream, and Jimmy’d get mad. So mad that Masseria would have fat Morton Cohen sit on him. With Morton straddling Stuart’s stomach Masseria would implore “Are you going to say it again? Have you had enough?”

Stuart was obstinate; he was rigid. His response was unfailing:
“ Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagnes!” he’d repeat louder and louder, at which time, as Stu lay on his back, as Morton anchored him to the earth, Jimmy would give him the “Chinese Torture,” flicking grass on his face.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagnes!” he’d scream, as if begging for more punishment. His face would sweat, his mouth would spew green blades, but he wouldn’t let up: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAgnes!”

Even then it was “Work hard, play hard.” Even then.

Stuart was the first of our friends to toil after school. Or close. Myers helped his dad at Mary’s Style Shop; (that didn’t count). Ermine was at Leader Drug. Fenton, though, was first. It was a work ethic that would (if possible) strengthen. Indeed, ask my brother! They spent 1971’s spring break selling Highlights from a motel in Roseville, Michigan. Daily, just teasing dawn, Hal would wake to a strident cadence:

“Get up! Time to sell, sell, sell!”
“C’mon,” he’d beckon H, “ If I’ve got to be up, you’ve got to be up!”

It never changed. Never…even in retirement. My friend, you see, “retired” several years ago, only to return to the workforce. He travels more now than then. Retirement? Brett Favre couldn’t shine Stuart’s shoes.

Nothing changes. Clearly not his taste. In high school Stu would revel with every new Dean Martin song. Fifteen years after Dino’s death, Stuey still waits for new releases.

Nothing changes. Clearly not his humor. I saw my cousin Pinky last week. She should only know that thirty years after Stuart had her sing the Campbell’s Soup jingle he is still making phony phone calls.

Nothing changes. Clearly not his loyalty. Except for one mishap, (once, in Miss Williams’ room, violating my confidence he told Jan Rini I liked her), Stuart has been steadfast. Over the years many have cheered for me. Stuart has not only rooted, he’s believed. Even to this day.

Yes, the best part about our friend IS his constancy.

It’s a misconception to think that failure to change is failure to grow. Stuart, as much as anyone else, demonstrates this. In a world of daily modulations and reality TV, where everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame, our friend quietly, internally, grows. His values, like roots of an ancient oak, run deep.

The best part of Stuart Fenton IS his consistency, his predictability—That I can know the content of our conversation even before his words spring out. If he greets me “B,” it’s going to be social. If he calls me “Bruce,” it’s going to be serious. And…if he starts with “Well, hello! Have you talked to our fine friend Bob recently?”— then I know we’re going to play.

Our friend Stuart is the 21st century’s answer to the 19th century. In a world of continual change he remains…a rock. And with all his subdued mishigos, he is a rock that we continue to rest on. Even at 61.


Friday, August 13th, 2010

       The former Stacy Bogart looked me dead in the eye, smiled, and
       with love and fascination shot me an underhanded compliment:
       “Dad, you are a master at pointless conversation.” It is, then, in
       the spirit of reciprocity that I dedicate this pointless entry to her.

Smack dab in the middle of a May Friday, having no business in central Ohio, I was down there meeting Mark Ermine at Starbucks. Early one Sunday, just weeks later, nieces Caroline and Amy marched five kilometers through Bexley. And…thirty or so of my brother’s classmates are now planning a Rowland School reunion.

What connection might there be, you ask, to these seemingly unrelated, marginal events? Ah, to the well-versed Bogart this is easy. They share a distinct genesis, a unique cause. Each was placed in motion by one even more remote occurrence. Margie, you see, toward the end of ’09, bought Hal a book about Jan & Dean. What followed, then, was merely dominoes.

Trust me—details matter not. Honor the concept. H and I share great pleasures causally (and cosmically) connecting actions in our lives that others might not necessarily relate. It is not only fun and thought-provoking, but confirms yet again that each of us has too much time on his hands. We can live with that.

….Which brings me to tonight. Yes, at Shabbos dinner, after careful analysis, I will unveil yet another stream of etiology.

Consider: Just weeks ago my Aunt Helen criticized me AND just days ago my brother advised I was capable of doing something “the odds were a million to one against…” Both events, it is clear, occurred for the same reason, to wit: our mom married a thief.

Here are the facts….just the facts:

In the late ‘80’s our mother wed yet again. We thought she’d taken a third husband; clearly, though, he’d taken her.

2009: Mom died the first week in April. Shivah was at Hal and Margie’s. Although specifically invited back, The Thief never set foot in their house.
Not once.

2010: We finally learned why Ed never showed. The man, it seems, was busy studying. Indeed, internet/local media carried an article praising our step-dad, detailing his recent receipt of a G.E.D. (Mazel Tov).

My brother acted swiftly! With a sense of honor and duty, he emailed the author, detailing the truth of the man behind the curtain. Pointedly, elegantly, he labeled Ed “a thief who does not deserve glorification.”

“That’s my brother!” I thought. “That’s my brother!” (I wrote). Clearly, he’d answered the bell; I was so proud. So proud that I forwarded a copy of his transmittal to the immediate world—including the rabbi.

Harriet, of course, got my missile in Columbus. She, too, was proud. In knee-jerk reaction she called our aunt and read her Hal’s note. That was on a Wednesday. Friday, of course—just two days later— I went shopping with the Woman Most Likely To Meet Willard Scott. Within moments the inevitable occurred:

“Why didn’t you read me Hal’s letter? Why do I have to hear it from Harriet?” (Her pout was stronger than my desire to ask “Why aren’t you mad at Harold for not telling you? He wrote it. Why me?” I let it go….
Wouldn’t—couldn’t throw the kid under the bus.

Three weeks passed. Then, the afternoon of August 10 Hal got an EMAIL from our rabbi, (acknowledging my forward). “You will have to explain it to me someday” urged the spiritual leader in a letter from the temple website.

My phone rang. It was H.

“I have to ask you,” he opened. Hesitating a bit he then blurted it out: “Did you send the email from Rabbi Skoff?”
“Are you kidding?”
“Just checking,” he offered. “It’s something you might do.”
“You mean you think I’m capable of entering Park’s website and sending a dummy email as a joke? Do you know what the odds on that are?”
“About a million to one.” he proffered.
“Thanks for the compliment.” I said, amazed, yet humbled.

I was smiling…I was bubbly. My little brother thinks I’m capable of a million to one shot. Hmmm.

And all because our mother married a thief.

Can’t wait till after Kiddush tonight!


Monday, August 9th, 2010

   Back in adolescence, our Dad lived out-of-town.   He’d write us (snail mail then), and exercise his unique sense of fairness.  Any envelope addressed to “Bruce and Hal” always contained a letter that began “Dear HAL and BRUCE.”  Always.  He died on August 9, 1985.  His most recent note arrived today:

Dear boys,

A quarter of a century! Seems like yesterday.

It all happened so suddenly. They told me I was going to a better place and I figured Vegas. But I love it here. Not only is everything air-conditioned, but there’s no traffic and the kaiser rolls are to live for!

Twenty five years. When I got here I must say it was lonely. The only one at lodge on Thursdays was Max Mitchell. By the way, Bruce, did you ever get the magazines out of his garage on Bainbridge?

Little by little, though, my contemporaries have been showing up. A lot of old faces. Your mother’s family, Harriet’s family. Of course, your grandmother’s been here for a while. We play Scrabble on Sundays and it’s still frustrating. “Ma,” I tell her, “No two letter words.” “Albert, please!” I’ll hear; she still complains about her letters. By the way, she says you both should know she wanted to keep the color TV.

Was sorry to see Irwin last year. He’s been playing gin with Paul and me on Mondays. Not the best player, but a game’s a game. By the way, Bruce, per your request, we did include your friend David last winter. Marc was right, though. He’s not only weak, but even in this timeless place, David’s slow. One game we were partners; I kept finishing my hand first and so, I’d stand behind him to watch. Linick would stare at his cards, and stare. I’d want to shout “Throw something—anything!” And then he’d let go with a live card.” (We didn’t invite him back).

Bruce, I see your father-in-law all the time. He’s one of the few guys from the east coast that fit in immediately…You know, All-American and all that. He even got a big laugh on Father’s Day. We were sitting around, a bunch of us, watching “Field Of Dreams.” So the movie ends and they turn the lights on and he says “This isn’t Iowa, it’s heaven.” Then just a few weeks ago he made some more fans. There was a welcome party for Steinbrenner but Ben refused to go. “He’s a bum, I tell you,” he told the guys. (Oh…and Bruce—turns out I was right about Modell, wasn’t I?)

A lot of your friends’ fathers are here guys. Not many of the mothers. Why do they outlive us? Saw Stuart’s dad the other day. Wanted to have coffee, but he passed. Had a big, broad smile, but blew me off. “Can’t do it ‘Big Al’” he said—told me he was on his way to work.

I’ve been watching you boys and I’m proud of you both. It’s wonderful the way you’re taking care of my sister. I don’t know what she would do without you. H, your brother sent me the spreadsheet you made on her, detailing her misdeeds. If half of it is true and anything happens to her…please, if at all possible, give me a head’s up.

As far as your kids go, I’m watching it all and trust it will work out. It always does.

I know it’s been a rough year for you Hal, but the way you’ve carried yourself, they way you’ve not played the victim…well, it does my heart well to know you’ve pushed through. Like I told you boys back in the White Sox days, if you just keep taking a level swing, the hits will fall.

Well, that’s it for now. Picking the men up for today’ game, but need to stop at Revco first. Out of Camels. Smoking, you know, is still legal here. They say it can’t kill us.

(Told you this place was heaven).

Love, Dad


Thursday, August 5th, 2010

My entire life has been lived within two square miles. From the “Mean Streets” of South Euclid through the first life of Beachwood to the Second Coming in Lyndhurst. It’s been all Cleveland all the time, neither by accident nor with regret.

Married out of school. The wife, born and bred in Passaic, (hardly the garden spot of “The Garden State”), would have preferred returning east. New York specifically, called her name. Didn’t happen! Indeed, as I’d explained to her then, by law she’d waived that right attending OSU. The Bogarts, therefore, stayed put.

Cleveland was home. We thrived until we didn’t and stayed married until we ceased thriving. Still, she’d be the first to tell you it was a great place to raise kids and, I might note: with children gone, the lady remains. (Further, FYI, each of HER Jersey siblings has long since abandoned the Metropolitan area.).

Today’s society is mobile. People choose hometowns on MapQuest as I order from a menu. To a world half my age, when long-distance calls are free and travel is routine, home means NOT where you live, but where you sleep. Too bad.

Last week someone forwarded a well-crafted article by a national sportswriter.  It decried Cleveland, the dying city. A series of historical anecdotes and geographical references, the piece was at once entertaining, misleading, and (for the author), sad. The scribe, you see, earned his bones on Lake Erie.

His running gag had our town replete with streets and sights dubbed “Chagrin,” from the boulevard to the river to the falls. “Chagrin,” he pointed out, has a negative connotation.

Look, I enjoy a good laugh as much as anyone, perhaps more. Still, there’s a difference between laughing with someone and AT him; there’s a distinction between spinning and…oh well………

This guy grew up in Cleveland. He has friends here even today. Subsequent stops placed him in Cincinnati and Kansas City. (For now). I don’t know about him, but conscience dictates whether I tell half-truths; values mandate I not shoot my own.

Am I angry? For the moment. This too will pass. There are, after all, no such things as bad examples. Lessons can always be learned.

I stood on Chagrin Boulevard today, facing west. In a distance, heading downtown, the road’s name changed to “Kinsman.” Yes, that’s right: connoting kinship, brotherhood, family.

The writer, it seems, stood on the very same street, yet faced east—away from town. As such, he not only chose what he saw but his column became quite predictable.

He had, even before lifting his pen, turned his back on our city.


Monday, August 2nd, 2010

The characters that grace my life point me to live and learn. Satisfaction, (perhaps growth), comes from examining my behavior. At sixty years I am but a work-in-progress.

Mooney’s mechanic beamed proudly, pointing to the center of the tread. It was an oven outside and I’d had another flat. “There’s the problem,” he triumphed. “See it?” Having absolutely NO idea what the guy was looking at, yet not wanting to disappoint, I nodded knowingly. Moments later, through the glare of a blazing sun, a man approached.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked, arm extended.

Didn’t, but should have. Knew the face, told him so, but couldn’t pull the trigger on the name.

“I’m married to your cousin,” he advised, after which we spoke several minutes…catching up. Our talk, crisp with laughter at family foibles, ended with another handshake. Exiting, he left me with a smile and one gnawing sense of loss.

Hal and I, you see, grew up surrounded by family. There were grand-parents, GREATgrandparents, cousins, second cousins, cousins of cousins, those that married in, those that opted out…and we knew them all. To this day H and I share vivid memories of even the most ancillary relations.

…Visions of first cousin Marla Hoffman’s third birthday at Forest Hills Park, second cousin Sam, (a ticket-taker at Public Hall), sneaking us through circus turnstiles and in Browns’ games…images of “Little Lou” (cousin of a cousin who now approaches 6’6”—or so it seems), or even NON-cousin Lil Flate showing up at random Seders. (Every family has a Lil Flate, you know: the person that no one can figure out how she’s related, but all agree she is). A generation passes and she’s “grandfathered in.” No one even questions it anymore.


How sad it is that today, when I treasure family most, I don’t know my own cousin’s name. That he has to reintroduce himself in a gas station parking lot.

Can’t blame this on Dad’s gambling. Can’t lay it on Mom’s bad ear or even our parents’ divorce. No, they raised us right; they set the table. This one’s on me.

I own it.

My kids are blessed. The sense of community that slid in Cleveland is being recouped in new locales.

I saw it in Chicago Independence Day. It wasn’t Forest Hills but Highland Park; it wasn’t Marla, but Stacy. There she was (my little one), ensconced, ebullient in a sea of thirty or so Bohrers and semi-Bohrers… communing with picnic baskets, softball, barbeque…

It’s an annual convention and, even allowing for the croquet, it is all good…

Or Team Pearl in New York:

Eight days ago Meredith’s mishpachah joined hands in memory of its matriarch; en masse they marched to raise funds in the fight against pancreatic cancer, then brunched together. They do it every year.

I marveled at it and felt enriched to join five cousins, their parents and friends, each clad in grape-colored T’s, each bound by love.

And so it was that days after returning home I was confronted not only by Cousin Ken, but also by opportunity.

Cousin Sheila called with an announcement. (You may recall Sheila. She’s in the Guinness Book Of World Records for most consecutive years in a wheelchair without a diagnosis). Anyway, her author/daughter (my third cousin, or is it second cousin once removed?) will be in Cleveland for a book signing.

Empowed by recent examples, determined to recharge local family, I called Ilie. “This is Cousin Bruce,” the message said. “…Your mom wasn’t sure when you’ll be in town, but I’d love to have lunch or dinner with you.“

That was Thursday. Since then she’s joined a growing list of women that don’t call me back. (It’s an unfortunate trend). But that’s OK.

I’m responsible for the effort, NOT the outcome. I get that.

Maybe she doesn’t crave family as I do. It’s possible. Or maybe Ilie, whose mother left Cleveland in the ‘50’s, and who, herself was raised in Rochester, has no idea who I am.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m her Lillie Flate.