A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It wasn’t even 7AM, but my strut from the shower’d came to a sudden halt. Three years we’d been living on Maidstone, but ‘til that morning, I could count on one hand the times the Jersey Girl’d been sitting up in bed as I’d walked from the bathroom. That’s not a slight—at all; her clock was in sync with the kids, and this day, this summer day, school was out.

There she was though: stoic…alert…focused on me.

“I have bad news,” she said — preface to a pregnant pause.
“Did someone die?” I pried.
She nodded Yes, grimacing, so I pushed right on.
“Grandma Bogart?”
“Aunt Helen?”

I can’t remember whom else I guessed, or if I even did, but well I recall when finally I spoke.

“My Dad?”

She nodded again — vertically.

August 9, 1985: it was a Friday, like today. My personal December 7, my private November 22:   like 9/11, it was a day that not only live in infamy, but that I’d replay yearly.

What’d YOU do the day YOUR father died?

My brother knew already, said the wife. He had spoken to Harriet. Michael? Jamie?  Stacy?  The kids slept peacefully.

Call my brother I asked and she did.  I was getting dressed.

We had to tell Grandma and we ought tell our Mom,(we reasoned). Wrong would it be, were she to hear this on the street. And we had to, after spreading the news, sprint down to Columbus.

“Our father died,” I blurted out to our aunt. At the stair top she stood, looking down to her nephews.
“What do you mean?”
Ambling on up we continued our task.
“Why are the boys here?” asked Grandma. (Yes, we stood inches away.  No, she was not asking us).
“My father died,” said H. “Harriet called.” (Ed. Note: It was a curious choice—his pronoun. Hal Bogart is anything but selfish, anything but self-centered…but I can tell you that vividly I heard his “my” and immediately I took notice. Curious choice, thought I.  He truly loved the man).
“WHY DO YOU TALK THIS WAY?” cried the Mom who would bury her son.

And we drove down the hill…to Case…to our mother…to our father’s ex-wife.

(Ed. Note 2: There were a lot of people back then convinced that Elaine Hoffman never stopped loving Al Bogart. Euphoric recall? Perhaps. Her own family, though, said it. It should be specifically noted, however, that no one ever accused Albert of retaining his feelings. Of course he regretted. Still, as for feelings toward our mother—she was a hand he had folded. For so many years Harriet had been the fresh deck,  the new karma…his life).

“IS THIS YOUR IDEA OF A JOKE?” our mother demanded… of ME! (Hal stood there, accomplice to the mission, yet at me she screamed).

Little things. Minor details that mattered not. I remember each one.

We drove straight to through that day. Didn’t stop for food—not even at the LK Restaurant our father loved.

Straight through…

To Schoedinger Funeral Home, downtown Columbus, where we saw our father prone on a slab. A wooden slab.

He looked at peace, I thought. I lingered.  Staring at his stillness I cried a bit, but really not much. “Overcome” is the word I’d use—overcome right there, with a sense that his fight was over— his glorious, victorious run was done.

And that he’d gone out a winner.

Little things? Maybe not. It’s a day I recall now in smile. He didn’t want to die, my Dad—but in his own way…considering where he’d been and where he was — it was like he left with a walk-off homer.

A winner.

We buried him Sunday — in a plot and in sunshine and in a town that he loved. Put a gun to my head, though,  and I can’t tell you one minute of the day between. Saturday? There was no Saturday, August 10th that year. Not in my world.

But Friday? Friday, August 9th, 1985?  I remember it in peace.

One Response to “A DAY IN THE LIFE”

  1. Your Father (Who Art In Heaven) says:

    Dear Bruce,

    I am aware of the fact that your brother called you this morning, suggesting you made a mistake in this entry. I heard him (of course) and he was correct. Yes, he and Margie DO remember it better. Like I told you too many times, you’re not quite as smart as you think you are.

    When you boys stopped to see Ma and Helen that day, you told them only that I’d had a heart attack. You said you were heading right to Columbus to see how I was. (It made it easier, I suppose…for the moment. Still, did you boys think the hand was going to change?)

    The rest, Sonny Boy, you pretty much got right. That was your wife in the bed that morning. Your kids were asleep. And it was nice of you boys to stop and tell your mother.

    But H was right, Bruce, and although it really matters not, some day if your grandchildren or his read your nonsense, better the record should be straight.

    By the way, Paul and I played gin with Harriet’s brother Irwin and your friend David the other night. Neither of them has gotten any better. Oh, and your mother was tickled that Michael named his son for her. Make sure you mention it.

    Tell your brother I wrote. He’s busy with my sister this morning and may not see this for a while.

    Love you both,


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