The signage on I-71 read MEDINA as Margie, from the backseat, reminded that us the world was ending. It was Saturday, and with Caroline aside her, it prompted Hal and me to address immediate concerns:

“Other than Mom or Dad,” I asked, “Who is the first person you’ll call?”
“In heaven?”

He hesitated but slightly: “Grandma Cele.”
“What about Grandma Bogart?” I protested.
“We weren’t as close.”

I guess I’d forgotten, but he was spot on. Instantly he spoke to all the times sleeping, swimming and otherwise hanging out with her. It was, we agreed, a function of logistics. One grandma was worldly and drove; the other was “old-country” and didn’t. (Speaking of logistics, FYI, the discourse took a ten minute detour when I casually noted that indeed, Cele Porter’d been the first person I’d seen—oh so inadvertently—south of her Mason Dixon line). “How old were you?” asked Hal between laughs.

“Who would be next?” I pushed, getting back on course, “Grandpa Irv?”

(H adored Cele’s husband, although politics neutered me. A caring man, he did, however, espouse my parents’ divorce and once told me “You’re father’s a loser.” I was thirteen back then. “Nuff said).

“No,” continued Hal, “It would be Grandma Bogart.”
“What about Grandpa Irv?” I pushed back.
“Dad would get mad.”

Approaching ASHLAND, my brother explained. No, it was not that our father would expect us to rotate sides of the family, per se…Heck no. It was more the fact that he’d be pissed it was Irv Porter.

“I’d like to think there’s no resentment in heaven.”
“Let’s not have a fight our first night there,” he said.

We passed MANSFIELD.

“Who do you think. “ I wondered aloud, “Harriet will see first…Dad or Fred?”
“Dad,” said H; “You’re dreaming,” said I, turning to Margie for support. She has, by all accounts, the objectivity of a surgeon.
“Fred,” said the doctor. (Case closed).

If the world were indeed ending, this was a drive to end all drives. We spoke of our kids, of course, but bragged of worldly pursuits.

“You have to admit,” I said, “Finding Fromin was remarkable!” My brother agreed, but then, blowing his own horn, added:  “What about my still picture of Herschel standing on his head?”  Again, Margie and I concurred: “You can’t compare the two!”

How, I wondered, could Hal equate our brunch with Fromin, (a man dead for thirty-five plus years), with mere photography of a late cousin, (albeit standing on his head)?

“Narishkeit!” Grandma Bogart would say. Hal Bogart thought otherwise. In what historians may some day dub the greatest sacrilege of all time, my brother’s exact words (and you can call Margie on this), were:

“The still picture of Herschel standing on his head is the clearest proof of all of the existence of God.”

(If that was true, thought I, this would be the end of the world as we know it).

We hit Columbus, this final day, dropped C-line on campus, and…on to Harriet.  A wondrous trip, we were, (for not spending a lot of money), going out in style.

Late afternoon was spent, frankly, the way you’d like to honor your last day. With family. Kin out-of-state, we huddled with our father’s life’s love, spoke to present and past, and…as always…laughed.

Harriet, by the way, can also play with a half deck.

“Who will you see first?” we asked her….”Fred or our Dad…be honest.”
“Why, your father, of course.”
“That’s nonsense,” I retorted. “You—(but she interrupted)
“…Fred’s not waiting for me—your father is. Fred’s busy with his first wife!”
(I don’t know what fascinated more: the sincerity of her answer or our group shock that she DID answer. Who said this was a stupid topic?).

The world, of course, didn’t end that night. Dinner at McCormick & Shmick’s was followed by, aptly, viewing tapes of “Modern Family.” And sleep.

We awoke Sunday to not only sunshine but breakfast with Harriet. 7AM she was all smiles. Leaving for the 5K, a family hug ended with our admonishment that when Helen asked her what we talked about, the answer was “Nothing.”

“Remember,” said Hal, “You don’t even know us.” And we left for Bexley.

Mother and daughter did the 5K in tandem that morning. Me? I trudged the streets of Bexley alone, knocking time off last year, all the while, listening to Michael’s radio, and thinking.

I thought of my kids out-of-state, and the grandkids…I thought of my family and friends and my relative health….

I thought of the fun we were having and the words in the songs on the radio I was only beginning to figure out and the new office and even my new haircut.

And I thought about the summer approaching, my travel plans east and west, and…

Even the play coming up and how I had the proverbial “loaf of bread under each arm.”

And I realized, yet again, that this was not, as that clown had stated, the end of the world as we know it, but, as always…Only the beginning.


  1. Peter Pan says:

    In heaven they are still deciding who to let in. There is still time to make sure you get in. Remember, not everyone got into REN.

  2. Unknown says:

    i love this one, dad! – stacy

  3. Mark E says:

    Not everyone got into REN, but only one of us got thrown out!

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