The words of the Nurse Practitioner were unambiguous: “Please call me regarding your aunt’s code.” Wednesday morning … just 9 …. and I walked out to face the day.

10:30 AM We sat at her bedside, the two of us. Carrie held her hand as I handled the small talk. Nonsense it was. (“Narishkeit”, my aunt would have called it), and how enjoyed it! From the cot’s other side, conversing ‘cross-torso, I narrated for the umpteenth time the idiocies of Helen Bogart’s shopping regimen.

“First stop,” I reminded, “Was the Roma tomatoes. “Not too hard, not too soft, not too round…” One hundred one and immobile, the Old Dame’s cheeks rounded. “Then the bananas,” I continued, “Not too yellow, not too green, not too long. If they only had large we got 4 and not 5.” ‘Neath the tubing on her face she was, I sensed, tasting every word. On a roll (so to speak), the shtick went on: “It was usually Cheerios, but only if they had the big box. If not, we would get the Tasteeos. Small. And you know what, Carrie? Aunt Helen doesn’t think Marc’s knows how to merchandize.”

1:30 (more or less). Medical procedures mandated our short absence. They’d be giving her morphine, to ease the slide.
Rising to leave I squeezed her left palm. “Don’t get up,” I admonished. (It would be her last smile). Our return minutes later found her dozing in peace.

Carrie sat. I sat. Quietly, oh so quietly, life ticked away.

“Is she gone?” we asked the nurse. (It was now pushing 4). Nodding quietly she paged the physician.

Tears fell. More hands were held. The doctor signed off. We were three once again.

Standing to her right I read The 23rd Psalm. Kneeling, kissing her forehead…was it goodbye to her or much more? Good bye (perhaps) to an era?

Hal. Family. Bart. Arrangements. Thoughts. Memories. No regrets.


A day later this Jewish Violet Crawley (think: Downton Abbey) — this oft chided, oft feared, always loved paragon of rigidity …. this frail fixture we thought would live forever —- was laid to rest. With verbal precision Rabbi Marcus’s narrative recaptured Helen Bogart’s century of living for the modicum of family and friends gathered graveside. No fanfare…no prolonged service. Indeed, like everything else in her past century’s being: exactly as our aunt directed.

We “sat” at our place. They came and they went: one rabbi, two deli trays, three Diamonds.

Family, friends, kinship —

Thursday. Friday.

Sabbath nearing, Shivah ended.  4:15 it was, give or take, as my brother went home. The days had been long but the ending was instant.

I hugged Carrie, thanked her for being there, and … and … it wasn’t a voice mail I heard, but — let’s say — a “virtual” loudspeaker …

Like at, perhaps, the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium—

The words, however, like those of Wednesday’s message from the Nurse Practitioner, were unambiguous:

“Now heading from the on-deck circle”, it said, “…..”

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