Archive for July, 2011


Sunday, July 31st, 2011

In the parking lot nine days ago Murray turned to me.

”Funny you should mention Koufax,” he said. “ Just finished his biography—you’d love it.”

(Demurring, I drove away. If recollection served well, years back Wieder had to write a book report and not (of course) having read a thing, he’d scribbled notes on the pitcher from a Sport Magazine article. I’d had to read that).

A week passed and again it was Friday. “Here, I brought it!”

Waving something shaped like a book, Murray approached. “Let me show you how it works.” With that he brandished a Kindle and touched on a page called “Koufax”, but still wasn’t done.

“This is how you go forward…here’s how you go back…this changes the font…”

“But I don’t want to read the book!” I was thinking, (let alone by machine).
I’m not good at this stuff—and besides you can’t take it in the pool—and you have to worry about it heating up! And what if I lose it?

It took him ten minutes to explain the whole thing. God, I thought—my friend Alan plagiarized a whole life in less time than that!

I’m just not fit for the world and the so-called “progress” we’ve made. Life was simpler—it was easier—when books were on paper and TV was not only black-and-white, but limited to three channels. At least then I could watch it.

There are two sets in my house: one up, one down. ‘ Was there ten months when the cable went out—upstairs only. No one, but no one knew why.

Thinking perchance, that one of the boys kicked out some cord, I phoned buddy Jon. “Everything’s hooked up,” he smiled. “Call the cable company.” I did.

“The problem’s there,” they told me, once they knew it played downstairs.
“Call your property manager.” I did.

Jeff smiled, but like me—Jewish. What do we know of these things? “Call the cable company,” said he.

Time, however, is precious. Aunt Helen may live life on 800 numbers, but I have things to do. The easier, softer way is to compromise—and I have. When watching network, I lay comfortably in bed. For cable it’s downstairs: the couch. Life, you should note, has gone on.

It doesn’t, though, seem fair. Nor is it right, frankly, that I need a degree in engineering to hear music! Thank God for Harold.

It must have been his year in Carolina, but my brother, for some reason, knows how to exorcize songs and add others to an Ipod. As such, periodically, like last Thursday, I seek his aid.

H summoned me that night—to bring my LAPTOP, bring my Ipod, and be patient.

“I want you to learn how to do this,” Hal cautioned.
“I don’t want to!”
“You will,” he confirmed.

(It was like when your mother tells you to try vegetables. OK, I’d eat them…but I wouldn’t like them).

We sat at his dining room table: two brothers, side-by-side behind two laptops, side-by-side.

“Where’s your flash drive?” he asked to dead silence. Better he should have asked me to split the atom.
“Don’t worry,” he said, (clearly having anticipated that vacuum), “I have one.”

And the process began: the tedious regimen of finding the link, sliding the mouse, pushing the button…time and time again—song and song again.
A few times I hit the wrong thing and he cringed.

“Why did you do that?” H cried in frustration, (not unlike his father in the Highlights days when Randy’d insist on changing the proven sales pitch).

More silence. It takes a lot for me to feel uncomfortable, but I was. A stranger in a strange land, I had to move on.

“Let me do this at home,” I insisted. “We can finish later.”

I did it, by the way! Yesterday. (At least stage One). The old songs are filtered out…but the new tunes: the one’s I need to add? They’ll require more Harold–perhaps today.

Am I narrow-minded missing times gone by? Revering days when books were paper, when Channels 3, 5 and 8 would do, and when you just put the damn record on the player and listened?

Today I need a battery to read, a brother to sing, and an act of Congress for cable. It doesn’t seem right.

In olden days there was a fix for all things mechanic, a one-shop stop to right all wrongs.

We called it Lomaz.


Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Once upon a time in a world far, far away there were three bears: a Momma Bear and two baby bears. They lived in a nice suburban house, went to a nice suburban school and had nice suburban friends. Something, however, was missing.

Big Brother Bear was gone—in Columbus. And Daddy Bear—he’d moved too. For reasons quite forgiven and oft forgotten, the parent bears were forests apart.

One day, (a Wednesday, 5:30, by court decree), Poppa Bear came for his girls. No one answered the door.

A car filled the garage so his horn blared loud. Still no answer.

“Send the kids out!” yelled Poppa Bear, “…Or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” But the girls stayed in and Poppa Bear went home. There would be, he knew, another Wednesday.

The week flew by. The baby bears called their Dad saying they missed him. They were so confused.

“Mommy says you’re not a bear—that you’re The Big Bad Wolf,” purred The Little One. “And Mommy loves me but I love you too even ‘though we only talk on the phone.” The older cub—the one they said looked like Poppa…the one with his eyes—-was more contrite: “Come see me at Lindsey’s” she urged. “I miss you.”

Again Wednesday came and this time Poppa Bear dug in. By 5:15 he drove over with his forest friend, a fox named Ed. From an unmarked car, first hitting *67, they called:

“Hello,” she answered.
“They’re home!” came their roar of triumph.
But the door stayed closed…and no bears pranced out.
“This isn’t right,” sighed Ed…and with Fox as his witness, Poppa cried out:

“Send them out NOW or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”

Still nothing happened. Oh, The Little One called, days later. “It’ll be easier when I go to college,” she sighed, (but to Poppa Bear that seemed a long way off).

It was sad for everyone. Everyone. Poppa missed his cubs. He knew too, the girls missed family. The woods were dark, in need of light.

“Let’s talk to the owl,” urged The Fox. “He is wise; he will know.” (And with that, Ed and Fozzie bounded to Chagrin, to Coffee/Creations. There, in that first booth on the left, they’d find wisdom).

“Children know,” The Owl nodded. “They know…. To you they’re but baby bears—not so. They hear, but are afraid to speak. They see, but are afraid to act.” Then he smiled: ”Be patient, be kind, reach out. They will call when they can.”

Some advice is just too hard to take. For years Poppa Bear tried to huff and puff and blow down walls. It mattered not. He needed, it seemed, to just give time time; he needed, it seemed, to accept that there is an awful lot of law but very little justice. And he needed—as much as anything else— to just listen to The Owl…and be patient, and kind, and reach out.

Each girl, in time, went off to college, each to roam a forest of her own. The Little One reached back, and the blue-eyed one too…, and all the creatures in the forest rejoiced at the wisdom of The Owl.

That, though, is the irony of it all.

The baby bears, you see, indeed did hear; the baby bears, you see, indeed did see. Too well.

One is now a Momma Bear, miles away. And Poppa Bear? He is now, (of all things), Grandpoppa Bear.

Oh…and Ed? He too is still around, but the coffeehouse is gone, replaced by a franchise.

And, sadly… today…in a forest far, far away, there are more walls—walls only love can climb. And at Caribou, this afternoon, The Fox will again lament “This isn’t right.”

Today, though, Grandpoppa Bear, is in some ways The Owl. Older, (maybe even wiser), he’s not huffing or puffing or trying to blow any house down. Waiting, rather, he’s touching those he can, and praying that the new baby bears will hear…and see….and go to college…

And that everyone will live happily ever after.


Monday, July 25th, 2011

When we first met, she was Sweet Sixteen. Dating her sister, I’d drive east in hot pursuit. Years came and went. Marriages came and went. Surviving was a blend of friendship borne of family that even divorce couldn’t put asunder.

Thursday night and Hal was “on the clock.” With no Helen Friday, the only things separating me from Jackie’s rehearsal dinner were two days and the open highway. As such, inspired by the freedom of time, I opted, Friday/noon, to head east.

There’s a dynamic to revisiting—years later—the road once travelled. Thoughts passed and songs blared as I relived life’s mosaic along the signs, bumps and bruises of PA’s turnpike. Lump in throat, I enjoyed—on oh so many levels—the long and winding road.

The sign read New Stanton and I pushed back decades, driving up from Columbus with my Dad. Ben and Lil dropped Jackie’s sister there—years ago. Future machatenim met, luggage was transferred and, (as per all Albert meetings), bread was broken. Then, somewhat prophetically, the parents returned to their neutral corners.

I called Michael. They were pulling in down south and Max was waking. We’d talk later.

‘ Kept driving. There are these spots—empty pockets of concrete—that you pass every twenty miles. Emergency areas, I suppose. My mind went back again…to the time (for reasons long forgotten), Alan and I, were heading west on this road, and pulled into one of these tracts. Seconds later, it seemed back then, another car swooshed next to us, driver’s side. Scared me, woke Wieder, but all they wanted was directions.

An ABBA song came on reminding me of Stacy. It played for an hour….Jackie texted “can’t wait (sic) 2 c u”; ”Picking up Aunt Minnie in Newark” I shot back for kicks as I drove on. Called H (no answer), and my sponsor (no answer), and Jamie. There were dueling banjos playing: battling paradigms of past memories, present feelings…future blessings.

It all, of course, would meld on Saturday.

The valet at Roy’s Restaurant took my car and moments later I was ushered to a private room.

“You must be ‘Brother Bruce’” greeted my soon-to-be…(WAIT, I guess we’re not really related!) There was warmth in his hello and safety in his gait. While we’d emailed in the past, it was nice to put a grace to his name. My ex-sister-in-law (boy that sounds sterile), had found a “keeper.” Good for her!

“And you must be Uncle Ernie!” I said, turning to my left. The once and future patriarch, glued to the One Hole, remains a man for all seasons. Indeed, had I not last seen him at Max’s bris?

It was a night of catching up on the past, but, better yet, bonding with the future. Unencumbered by a wife, parent or child, I was the ultimate free agent working the room unrestrained. Every moment spent with the old was trumped by moments with the young…or new! Joel’s kids, Jackie’s, the Davis clan…

“I’m trying to figure out who you are?” admitted Alan’s brother’s wife.
“I used to be married to her,” came my response, pointing to The Jersey Girl.
“You guys get along these days,” chimed Jackie. “Did you ever think of getting back together?”

(I smelled an audience). “I thought about it a few years back, but there wasn’t enough sexual tension.”

Beet red, the ex rolled her eyes in a manner stating (somewhat accepting), “Yes, Bruce can still clown.” I shrugged it off, (somewhat accepting) and didn’t break stride. “We’ll always have Paris,” I noted.

There were no jerks tonight.  Not a one.

Standing under the chupah…again…it was dueling banjos.

I saw warmth in the groom and Sixteen in the bride. I heard again, the toast of Alan’s mother: “To family.” I thought of The Prince that I’ve held and the ones that I will.   And I reveled not only in my yesterdays, but my todays– and yes, my tomorrows.

Glass shattered, toasts made, we dined and shared Goodbyes.  Or should I say Farewells?  Fueled by love, buoyed by family and friends, Jackie and Alan had their eyes to the future.

So did I.


Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

It will be a half-century this fall. Young and innocent, we were the third full class to enter a building new and clean: Greenview Junior High. The visage remains clear.

First floor, to the left, was a suite of offices. Much bigger than at Rowland, it held not only the Principal and Vice Principal, but a cadre of enforcers. We were told (at an early assembly) that most of us —implicitly the “good ones”—would never meet the Dean Of Boys.

My friends WERE good kids. All of them. Heck, by today’s standards, they were saints. Nonetheless, there was Huck Finn in some, boy scout in none, and…sometimes even the best of us met Mr. Burcham.

Snyder did. We spoke of it this week. ‘Got in trouble bringing sneezing powder to school. ‘Twas their only meeting.

Ermine, to be sure, trumped Bobby. Showing up sans belt one day, he was ushered from homeroom to Mr. Burcham. “Try this,” urged the dean, tendering a rope for Mark’s waist. A lesson learned? Not so. Returning beltless the very next day, Erv was again escorted downstairs. This time, though, he got paddled; this time, he learned. No pain, (I suppose), no gain.

“Did he ever paddle you?” I asked Treinish yesterday.
“I don’t think so,” said Alan, “But I had a run in with Miss Kingzett, at Brush.”
(I remembered her. Not only was she Dean Of Girls, but if memory’s correct, she further served as college counselor for the L-Z crowd).
“Yeah,” he continued, “I think she caught us smoking down by the alcove where we used to moon people. SHE hit me.”
“Really?” I mused.
“And told me to go to trade school—that I’d never make it in college.”
(She must have struck his pride that day; Alan went to law school).

None of us, of course, blended nice with trouble more often or better than Randy. Indeed, as Stuart reminded, he raised it to an art form.

There was the time they carped on him for not having a book cover. He returned a day later, his tome draped fully in toilet paper.

Better yet, there was …. It was eighth grade Spanish. Per Greenview geography, language rooms (French, German, Spanish), were second floor, above administration.

“I’m going to pull my tooth out!” “Rais” announced to Stuey and mates.
Then he did. With his hands…he did.
“Was it loose?” I asked Fenton.
“Not a baby tooth, mind you—the real deal”!

There was blood, said Stuart. And commotion. And Randy. Bounding to the front of the class, he kneeled (a la Jolson) before Miss Evans:

“Oooh, oooh, my tooth!!!” he declared.

The class erupted. The roar, mind you, rang immediately above the office of our Dean Of Boys, (who appeared moments later). They were still laughing when, just doing his job, he pulled “Raisin” from the room.

These memories arise, frankly, with the passing this week of Mr. Burcham. As husband, father, grandfather and brother, he’d lived, worked and contributed here all these years: an asset to our community.

Ships we were, however, passing in the night. In forty-seven years, our paths hadn’t crossed. Nor did they ever at Greenview. I was one of those, you see, that never met him.


Sunday, July 17th, 2011

        “Jesus Christ, Fanny Brice
        Wolfgang Mozart and Humphrey Bogart
        And Genghis Khan
        And on to H. G. Wells…”

His death this week caught my eye. Rob Grill, lead singer of The Grass Roots, was not some young burnout; heck—he was 67: my decade. Ouch! It reminded me…it underscored, again…our fragility.

Back in my college days, when records played and replayed —a favorite album was Neil Diamond’s “Tap Roof Manuscript.” One cut (not released as a single) was a catchy collection of names—well-known people—-all with one thing in common.

        “Ho Chi Minh, Gunga Din
        Henry Luce and John Wilkes Booth
        And Alexanders King and Graham Bell.”

I first heard the song at our place in the alley behind the McDonald’s. These were glory days. Living with Alan and Marc, (again, Walt: why did I automatically get the room with no window?), it was the springtime of my life. First love, first car, first apartment—and nothing to do each day but smile at the future.

        “Ramar Krishna, Mama Whistler
        Patrice Lumumba and Russ Colombo
        Karl and Chico Marx
        Albert Camus…”

Some things I didn’t see coming: That my Dad, my vibrant Dad, would die so young….that, indeed, Art Lewis, (his best man) and Max Mitchell, (his best friend), would predecease him.

        “E. A. Poe, Henri Rousseau
        Sholom Aleichem and Caryl Chessman
        Alan Freed and Buster Keaton too…”

No, I breezed through my twenties, taking life—taking health for granted. Not once did I think that—could I even imagine God would seize David or Benny or Mark…before sixty. Why would I? We were, each of us, invincible.

        “And each one there
        Has one thing shared
        They have sweated beneath the same sun
        Looked up in wonder at the same moon
        And wept when it was all done
        For being done too soon.”

Today is all I have.


Wednesday, July 13th, 2011


      “…but there is new life too, and with it, there is hope…”


               (Excerpt from the note pinned to a seagull by

                a survivor of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815

    March 14, 2007)


I once lived in a cave.  Sheltered from the sun, I’d smile, talk the talk and sleep in the cavern of a shrinking world.  My life was passing; time was passing.


The kids knew…perhaps.   They saw, perhaps.  But not me.  I was busy, of course, protecting the good name of my cave. 


Friends knew, perhaps.  And saw, perhaps.  But not me.  I loved the cave— the  peaceful cave…and relished  both the world it wrought and the solitude it brought. 


I liked that I guarded the door—that no one entered if we’d disagree.  I thrived on its dusty old resentments, its muddy new conclusions…and I loved, just loved the darkness.  There’re no lights in caves – no mirrors –no way at all…to see myself.


Yes, I loved that cave….even as time passed…as my life passed.


And passed.  And passed.


One day it all got old.  One day, finally, the sounds of silence were deafening.  I missed the noise, needed kin, relished friends….and peaked outside.


It was raining; I saw roads to repair—but there was light!  I saw my kids, caring not why I’d been inside–praying only that I’d come outside.


I saw life, even through the clouds and I felt love, ‘though some time had passed.


I left that cave years ago, never to return.  Today I walk through the storms with my head held high.  Today I revel at time, the ultimate gift.


And in a related story:  a referendum to repeal the Fourth Commandment was rejected on Long Island this week.  The measure carried only one precinct:  a cave.


     ”And I will hold on hope…
      And I’ll find strength in pain
      And I won’t change my ways
      I’ll know my name as it’s called again…”

                     (Adapted from Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave”)


Sunday, July 10th, 2011

The guys in recovery call it “letting go of resentments.”  It’s like drinking the poison, they warn, yet expecting the other guy to die.   They’re right.


I used to rant to Preston (a decade ago): that this person did this to me, or that person did that.  His response never changed.  Ever:  “Victims don’t stay sober.”


We’d lunch at Elsner’s back then—Wednesdays—all men.  I was sitting next to Sterling, complaining of my ex.  Silver-haired, perhaps my age, he was already veteran.


“You know how you let go of something?” he asked (rhetorically) to my silence. First a pause and then his answer:  “You just…let…go,” he smiled, dropping keychain to the floor.


     “You got a lot of nerve to say you are my friend

     When I was down you just stood there grinning.”


I’d known Dick as long as anyone.  Longer.  The union cemented by our parents, glued by time, had indeed recycled through children.   It was a friendship bonded in the 50’s at Presque Isle that survived not only his private school and California days of the 60’s, but even Dick’s lifelong abstention from sports.  From parents’ divorces to introducing his wife, there was always a connection.


Until there was not.


On September 6, 1995, pursuant to written agreement, my marriage ended.  Dissolved.  Notta.  Note further that on that day, through words unspoken by decree, She got custody of Dick.  It was a hurt I neither expected nor readily resolved.  With the precision of a surgeon’s knife I’d been cut out, exorcized, eliminated by a core friend.


Details matter not; my kids know the story.  I stopped sharing it though, not long after Elsner’s.  “Let it go,” Sterling urged.  “You either live in the problem or live in the solution.”  Tired of poison, I too dropped the keys.


I think of that lunch to this day…It’s not so much what happena, or why, but what am I going to do about it…or not.  (Years later—at Stacy’s wedding, no less—his kid approached me.  “It’s time,” she urged.  “You and my father should make up.”  I smiled at her—warmly— then walked away).  Some matters should rest in peace.  Even God can’t change the past.


     “Do you take me for such a fool

     To think I’d make contact?…”


“Am I wrong to feel?” I asked another, of a recent hurt.  Stung by a nouveau friend, I was venting.  “No,” she said, “But you’re wrong to hold on.”


My friend was right.


Just this week, I told someone…No more.


“Are you still mad?” she then asked. 

“Not at all,” said I, truthfully.


What I was was wiser.  Life is too short and time is too precious not to let go, to move on.


My father’d call it “Addition by subtraction” and like Sterling, he’d be right.  Addition clearly by subtraction.


Sometimes, though, to this day, I hate to do the math.

                                         (quotes from the Dylan song)

THE OLD MAN AND THE C (ompetition)

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The fires of a good competition never quite burn out. Not that I remember every win or loss— I don’t. What I do recall though…what still simmers, is the spirit of battles fought.

When Hal and I were young it was “sock basketball.” We’d play in his bedroom, (by today’s standards, the size of a closet). Two socks rolled in a ball—we’d hold it in one hand, feign dribbling, still guard each other…then shoot into a wastebasket. Sounds primitive, but at a time when few had hoops in their driveways, we were not only ahead of our time, but could compete through winter. Endlessly I’d beg him to play and he’d comply, until that is, in HIS fervor to win, airborne with a jumpshot, HIS skull met an overhead fixture.

It was no different in Wieder’s garage. On a half-court more often than not shortened by his dad’s van, we’d go head-to-head with fervor. Time and again Wied dribbled—butt to the hoop–pushing his way in. “Charging!” I’d call and he’d glare “No.” (All those games…I never got one call)! Alan’s passion, though, was exceeded perhaps by his knowledge of high school hoops. Doing the play-by-play of his own shots, he’d pretend to be Phil Argento or Billy Hahn, reigning prep stars. Me? Alan said I was Ledgemont, (a school that at the time had lost some thirty games in a row).

I don’t think I ever beat Wieder. So be it. As with my brother, we left nothing in the locker room.

Which leads to last weekend’s golf tourney in Chicago….

A family affair, the inaugural field (by agreement) was limited to Jason and me. (While Stacy, openly rooting the other way, made it three, her status was at best, vague. Let’s say it was somewhere between amateur status at the Masters or, even better, an unregistered student auditing a college class).

The stakes, be assured, were no lighter than the bragging rights of years ago. Indeed, in some ways they were greater. THIS competition, after all, was generational.

Did he really think loss of hair meant loss of fire? That gamesmanship has a shelf life?
Had he not seen, even once, “The Natural?”

This would be, I sensed, a classic duel between Thrower and Pitcher, an epic struggle between the strength of youth and the wisdom of experience. I was not disappointed.

Jason brought tuning and talent from weekly rounds on the golf course. (The last links I hit were bacon). It mattered not. Out then in, we were never more than two stokes apart. Indeed, eighteen holes of regulation left us knotted–a dead heat.

Sweat pouring from son-in-law’s brow, he recalled prior agreement:

“Three hole playoff!” Bohrer announced, heading to the first hole. A coin was flipped.

“Call it in the air,” I urged, and he did…getting it right.
“OK,” I continued, “You go first.”
“Wait a minute,” he said, “Why do I go first?”
“ ‘Cause you got it right.”
One pregnant pause later, I went to school on his shot.

We bogeyed the nineteenth hole—both of us. Retrieving my ball, it occurred to me: it was time.

“Draw?” I asked, arm outstretched.
“Draw,” he concluded, clasping.
“We’ll do it again next year,” said I.
“Every year,” he added.

We walked off the green just like they do on television—not as champ and caddy, but as two champions.

It’s a funny thing: competition. When you put it all out there, some times the results don’t matter. That’s how it was in Hal’s bedroom…how it was in Wieder’s garage…and clearly, how it was in Chicago last weekend.


Friday, July 1st, 2011

There’s no better instance to visit adult children than the weekend. You arrive, get our face time, assure they’re ok, then leave. It’s God’s perfect unit of time. After forty-eight hours, really, there’s nothing left to accomplish. (Unless, of course, they have kids. THAT, as I learned this year, is a game-changer).

It was the first time in my life, EVER, I’d left town no return scheduled. New York, a one-way ticket to see Max…and time.

Conventional wisdom as my play closed was that the half-moon of hair exacted from my scalp would return. I’d debated shaving it clean, letting it grow in level. The pundits, however, said No. As such, flying east I looked like some putz carving meat in a deli.

“Bruce, that’s hideous,” I heard on the coast. “You have to do something!”

Let the record show that at 10 AM Friday I entered Rubin’s Barbershop in Great Neck. (Picture Floyd of Mayberry, minus Floyd plus Benny, Peppino and yes, the swirling red, white and blue pole). Note further that prior to my exit ten minutes later, at no time had my son ever called me “Telly” or “Kojak” or “Uncle Fester.”

So be it. A gray minivan was pulling in front of the shop; the weekend was truly beginning. Four days would ensue: four days of warm, dynamic interaction—unique opportunities to lay foundation and cement love with a boy sporting more hair at thirty weeks than I had in sixty years. These were times, I well knew, to be treasured.

Max graduated that morning. From Dreamnastics. I was there. Poised on his mother’s lap, he rolled, bounced and smiled at classmates while one lone adult male marveled. He’s about to crawl, (I sensed). He’s the best looking, (I thought). How many teeth does yours have? (I asked). An hour later, one diploma on Facebook, I left. His was not the biggest smile.

“Keep me posted,” said Meredith the next night. She and Michael, heading for dinner, were leaving their most valuable asset with me. Babysitting—after all these years!

Like any good soldier, I followed orders.

“Sleeping,” read one text. “Sleeping. Same position,” said another. The third was more specific: “Sleeping. On right side. 45 degree angle toward near right (camera behind home plate).”

My face fell at 10 PM. So early? Couldn’t they stop for dessert?

We hit The City on Sunday. Ladies at a shower, three generations of Bogart, awaiting Grandpa Stuart, tread the sidewalks of New York. The latter, driving separately, was…on this, the day of the Gay Rights Parade, inexplicably late. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it).

Round and round we went, up and down Soho. Michael marched first; I drove the buggy. Block by block in the sweltering heat. Periodically he’d turn back, me trudging behind.

“You ok?” he’d prompt, and I’d pick up the pace.

Block by block. Every once in a while there’d be a curb without handicap access.

“Not too fast,” he’d warn. “Max is sleeping, and I’d slow the pace.

Finally, gracefully, we sought respite in a corner bar. A beer for my boy, AC for me and, poetically, the Old Timers’ Game on TV. Grandfather, father, son and…the Yankees?

The best came, however, the next day. Day Four we celebrated not on land but by sea. And the Jewish Sea, to boot: a swimming pool.

The water was but an inch deep. “Are you having fun?” inquired my daughter-in-law, knowing full well the answer. “Oh my God,” shrieked I, leaping up. “My phone is in my pocket.”

I returned to my seat, palms flushed to baby’s back. Studying him, his gentle rocking…he had me thinking. Was this the moment? Would he crawl right here?
…in the water? C’mon Max!

The sun was shining—the son was shining! This was, but for one moment, as good as it gets. He wasn’t crawling, you see, but someone was else was….I thought of Hailey, his cousin. Where was she when she crawled—that very first time. On land? In water? Where was I?

Max cooed and I steadied his frame. Time to rise, dry off, go. It was Monday, alas, and the time had come. For now.

I deplaned Tuesday, in Akron. Heart full of love— head full of memories, smiling I studied the box score. First graduation, babysitting, walking Manhattan, swimming—I wondered if Max felt my presence….if he even knew. Somehow, yes somehow I thought he had.  Kids know these things—they just do. The fun was mine but the love was shared. And felt.

“By the way,” I asked Ed as we drove up to Cleveland, ”Do you think I look like Telly Savalas or Uncle Fester?”
“No,” he said sharply, then adding: “More like Elmer Fudd.”