Two distinctly separate occurrences have been caught my attention recently. Family behaviors each, and I’ve been struggling to identify the nexus—until now.

Harriet called from Columbus to review the wedding and shared: Sitting with my Aunt Etty and Uncle Bob, she had posed an after-dinner question never before uttered:

“Why’d Elaine and Al divorce?” she asked Etty.
“You don’t know?” was the amazed response.
“No,” said Harriet. “I never asked.”

Even I found that amazing. She meets a middle-aged guy with no ascertainable assets (or hair), falls in love, spends 15 years with him….and the subject never came up! A quarter century post mortem—40 years in total—-and now she wonders?

”You NEVER asked?” I pushed her.
Harriet laughed. “Bruce, I never thought to. I liked your father. It felt right.
It didn’t matter.”
“Did you know he didn’t have money?”
“I didn’t need to know. He asked me what we needed to get married. I said a new bed. So a week later he bought one.”
The story warmed me. “It was that simple?” I inquired. (Just to confirm).

And I guess it was:

“My mother liked him. I liked him. I trusted my gut.”
She wasn’t done.
“And besides,” she reiterated, “It didn’t matter.”

What a wonderful way to go through life. Seeing what needs to be seen, leaving the rest, and trusting one’s gut.

Perhaps that is why, to a person, I know no one that finds her less than remarkable. I meet no one touched by her that is not better for it.

Which makes the balance of this entry ever more disturbing.

Names aren’t important, but another recap of the wedding yielded a quite disparate spirit. This came face-to-face, in Cleveland.

“Please take me to the post office,” she directed.
We approached the drive-through and….
“There’s an envelope to your ex-wife,” she exclaimed, moments after the mail disappeared in the shoot. “Did you see it?”
“No. Don’t worry, I mailed it with the others.”
“Do you want to know what’s in it?”
“Not really.”
“You truly don’t want to know?” she pushed back again.
“Not really. But if you want to tell me, I will listen.”
“Really, Bruce, sometimes I don’t know what to do with you! Why would you not be curious? Sometimes you worry me!”

(By now we were a half mile out off federal property. The silence was deafening…until she broke it).

“Well, I must tell you.”
“I wrote her to tell her what a beautiful wedding it was! Wasn’t that nice of me?”
“It sure was.” *(Shoot me now!)
“Do you want to know why I wrote her?” she continued.
I volleyed: “Because it was a beautiful wedding?”
“Of course not. Please. It is because she has not been nice to me. I want her to feel guilty.”
I sat there in semi-disbelief—and saddened that someone could be so soul-sick.
The speaker continued: “Surely she will receive my note and feel guilty. Let her stew on it.”

She giggled like the teenager she must never have been. Me, I was just stunned that someone with so much intellect could have so little heart.
What a terrible way to travel life’s road—carrying the weight of resentments.

When I picture Harriet I see a smile. And I smile. She is upbeat, in the present, and positive. Someone you’d love to drive to the post office.

This, however, is a tale of two cities.


  1. Margie says:

    After reading this post and your apt comment about the soul-sick, we really should pick her up on our way to tashlikh. Maybe she needs to do this more than we do!

  2. Jackie says:

    Yeah, Bruce. It’s just that simple. When you meet the right person, it’s just that easy 🙂

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