“…You reach out your hand 
       But you’re all alone, in these
       Time passages….”
                                     Al Stewart

It was just before 1 Sunday as I drove down Cedar. One car ahead was Kraut. In tandem we would pay respects to our friend Arlene—lifelong since Rowland—whose father had just now passed.

The kids tease me. Derisively they’ll comment, count, and note the many funerals I go to. I do attend too many; we all do.

What I didn’t see at thirty (and barely knew at forty) was that death is a part of life. I like bris’s and love weddings. H and I, though, were raised by our parents to support family and friends through each spoke of life’s cycle.

I remember our youth, when aunts, uncles and third/world cousins were dying off. It was the day of men-only pall bearers and our clan, estrogen-laden that it was, did not have a deep bench. As such, when the Woldman boys left town, Hal and I took their slots in the rotation at Berkowitz. Indeed, so often we were called upon that my brother, displaying early brilliance, once took the gray gloves home with him— tucking them in his sport jacket for the next burial.

It was then, as it is now, about our upbringing. Our parents didn’t teach us to hunt or build model airplanes; they didn’t even teach us to budget. No, they only knew what they knew. Our mother, (especially when well), and our father, pretty much always, honored the tenets of friendship and family. As such, their behaviors, even more than words, spoke volumes. That’s why, to this day, if we do nothing else right, my brother and I show up.

“Yeah, Dad,” chides my son, “But you have to admit you go to more funerals than most of your friends.”

Must I again point out the obvious? Living one’s whole life in two square miles..being HERE. That’s why I hit so many. Like Arthur, and Bobby, and Stuart (in summer). We show when Will’s Dad goes and pay condolences for others. It’s what we were taught (all of us), and what we do.

The wheel keeps turning—that’s all. My children read the Jewish News for weddings and births. In the day I did that. Bar Mitzvahs came next, followed again by weddings, (only this time friends’ kids were getting married).

Life was simpler when we all lived forever. The only thing I cared about at thirty was immediate family and the lodge. It was the pink cloud of my life— all horizon. And yes—it was the right place to be…at thirty.

I’m sixty now (62 if you’re counting). On the back nine. David’s gone, and Benny, and others, (not to mention the so few of our parents still left on the course). All too often the news is bad.

We keep paddling–all of us:  Bobby, Art and the handful in town.  We’ve learned, each of us—that death is a part of life, and that life’s about showing up.

It was just before 1 Monday, as I drove down Cedar. My friend Kim had lost her father…

Leave a Reply