Frail but feisty, Aunt Helen stands stubbornly at the plate. Standard Bearer for Team Bogart, methodically she fouls off the pitches of time with no less defiance than Wieder swatted balls foul (ere the “two strike rule”). The march of time for her— for all of us— is inexorable.

We said goodbye to Norm this week. Tucked in the back of the chapel, it was (next to my parents’), as difficult a service as I’d been to. My father’s cousin and contemporary, he’d been for a lifetime…a friend.

And yet I sat there thinking…not in a morbid way… (after all, he was 86)… ’bout how they just keep dropping.

Invariably on Wednesdays Art reminds us: “I’m next in my family.” His meaning is clear.

I want to discuss it with my kids, but they won’t. Won’t even joke. “Don’t talk that way”, says one. “You sound like an idiot” says another. But they’re wrong. I can be happy and reasonably healthy and still feel mortality. It’s human.

— Somewhat like Ermine’s approach to the past. Look at it he will—he just won’t stare at it.

Hal Bogart: now there’s a gent with dimension. Wasn’t long ago I reached out to him relating matters I’d want if and when came Strike Three. Understanding it, maintaining perspective, he emailed back and addressed my funeral:

“…Aunt Helen will need a ride,” he wrote. “Is it OK if she rides in the limo? Would it be OK if the limo stops at Marc’s on the way?…”

Ah, how truth is often spoken in jest! Closing my eyes (excuse the expression), do I not picture The Ice Queen directing an entire procession through the parking lot of the Mayfield/Green post office — the black-suited limo driver casually dropping her rent check in the mail slot?

Not that dear Harold was finished. No, his missive included a list of several proposed pall bearers—-almost like he was filling out a fantasy football roster!

So we laugh at Kraut’s weekly announcement and recall Simon and Garfunkle singing “…Time is tapping on my forehead…”.

We are 60-something.

My brother called Wednesday. Fifteen minutes, give or take, we spent planning our Shivah call.

“Let’s go Thursday, late afternoon.”
“We have to take Helen.”
“OK, Want to go in one car?”
“Why should we both have to pick her up and drop her off?”
“Pick her up and we’ll meet at Randy’s.”
“I don’t want to go in without you.”
“Maybe we should meet along the way.”
“4:30 Thursday?”
“OK, the parking lot of Heinen’s at Cedar and Green.”
“OK, the parking lot of Heinen’s at Cedar and Green.”
“Is that 4:30 in the parking lot or I should pick her up at 4:30 and meet you right after? I don’t want to have to sit and talk to her.”
“No, 4:30 in the parking lot.”
“OK, so just to be clear—I’ll tell her I am picking her up at 4:15.”
“OK, the parking lot of Heinen’s at Cedar and Green.”
“…And you’ll take her home.”
“Yes, I’ll take her home, but you’ll leave when I do, won’t you?”
“I guess so, but if I want to stay longer I can. You shouldn’t care.”
“I won’t care, but she will. If you stay, she’ll want to go home with you.”
“I’ll leave when you do.”

So we laughed a bit, the two of us, soft chuckles muffling the sound.

And still we heard:

The sound of our family’s clock ticking,
Of our clan marching…


And me? I hear an extra sound, and hear it louder—

It is the crack of the bat, our Aunt Helen still fouling off pitches.

I hear them, you see, in a way Harold can’t. I am, after all, in the on-deck circle.

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