Moses Nathan died this week. He was my uncle.

I first met Uncle “Mush” about 1970, when courting his niece. It was in Manhattan and I was brand/spankin’ new to the equation.  Dining with Mush, Honey and my future in-laws, I was focused on accomplishing the impossible: acting suave, debonair, fitting in, and yet being myself.

Aunt Honey was their “frontman” that evening. Indeed it was she that politely cornered me inside Brentano’s Bookstore asking my intentions with The Jersey Girl. ‘Twas Uncle Mush though, that I noticed. Always.

Tall he was…somewhat lanky, elegant …a Jewish David Niven perhaps. He had this gentle sophistication and a twinkle in his eye that could light up the New York skyline.

I met her entire mishpicha that year —from the Canadian contingent to the Connecticut clan to Uncle Willie and Aunt Millie (still standing near Bobby’s Corner near Farrell, PA). They embraced me, each of them, with open arms — arms that extended unconditionally over decades (both pre and post-divorce). Indeed, as I dance through my sixties, I still see and forget not that the middle third of my life was enhanced by the mural of beautiful memories of wonderful people. Closing my eyes, still I see:

— Uncle Fred, stoic but warm, with his home medical office (think: Marcus Welby, M.D.) in Queens.

— Aunt Rosie, who upon our very first meeting me in the backyard at the Fanwick’s pre-Newfield home told me I seemed nice but perhaps I should “watch my weight”.

— Uncle Willie and Aunt Millie. An hour away they were, just east of Youngstown. There was this Oneg Shabbat — perhaps their 40th anniversary?  I picture it still; the shul was on a hill. More vivid is my visage of watching the NFL playoffs in their home, specifically the Montana to Clark throw that beat Dallas. (Even then a Cowboys loss was always good for the Jews).

— Uncle Ernie. I’m not sure he ever really “got” me, but I know he liked me. Still, he was a corporate lawyer, and it would only be a slight exaggeration to say that every time we spoke he urged me to get into tax law.  The family’s standard bearer in the Tri-State area, he was also, GET THIS:  half the answer to the oft-asked trivia question: “Bruce, name the only father and son for which you were at both of their Bar Mitzvahs”.  (Ed. Note:  YES, it was Ernie’s 50th anniversary—but there he was on the bima).

— And Yes, Mush and Honey: dining with us in Old Montreal … three days into our honeymoon.

I spoke to Cousin Eric this week (when I heard the news). To Michelle as well.  I wonder if he’s seen the picture of me singing with his brother Louis. We took it in Stamford a few years back. Paul and Judy were there.

I need to call Aunt Lee next week. Mush was her brother. ‘Figured I’d let some days pass…the shivah and all.

It’s bittersweet looking back and remembering. And a blessing.  So many special people that have touched my life.

Like Uncle “Mush”.

Moses Nathan died this week. He was my uncle.

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