For a hundred years plus she lived “between a rock and a hard place”, never quite fitting in. Schooled by “old world” parents (picture Judge Hardy and his wife had they been Jewish), yet trudging with a supreme intellect gravely ignored in a male-based society, she was endured by peers — accepted, perhaps, — but never truly embraced. A single woman, she trudged in a coupled society.

Helen Bogart buried her father at forty, her brother at seventy, her mother at seventy-five, and her smile thereafter. We tried to fill her vacuum, (my brother and I), for the next quarter century. Her ground line, alas, dialed but two numbers: his and mine.

And she had a lifetime to call…

Our aunt loved us the same but liked Harold more. This is not speculation but pure, solid fact. Unabashedly she’d declared it on a drive to Columbus when Fred Grail passed. Four people heard the pronouncement (and eight eyebrows raised).

Oddly enough, it didn’t really bother me. In some ways, actually, I relished it! H and I would joke of it over the years and I wore her line as my “red badge of courage”.

Perhaps she thought of me as having been stained by divorce? Perhaps she saw me to be too much like my father? Perhaps it was that once in ‘75 I’d forgotten to acknowledge her. (Lord knows she’d hold onto it). Then again, it may just have been that she liked Hal more!

Truth is that in her final years she and I enjoyed the most beautiful and symbiotic of relationships. Co-dependent we were, in bittersweet harmony. I, you see, was half her world, and she, truly, was half my tie to a world gone by. Moreover, after all was said and done, love fueled our nexus.

I came to understand; she came to accept. Both of us grew.

Sunday was her unveiling at the cemetery. Nine months had passed. Time.

Hal led us in The Kaddish. I read Psalm 113. She rests now, in peace.

— And I would not be me if I didn’t point one more thing out: that our beloved Aunt Helen, at this very moment, is still between a rock and a hard place.

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