10 AM Chagrin and Richmond Roads. The sun is shining.

Graveside, quietly, I studied worn faces on the family of my youth. This unveiling, this final goodbye to Uncle Bob, portended more. It was, I suspected, our first goodbyes to each other.

So many lifetimes have passed since the Bogarts of Bayard and the Hoffmans of East Silsby felt like one. Five decades: times diffused by divorce, death, distance and (dare I say dollars?) had left marks. Or had they?

I was tearing this morning.

—After greeting faces of yore … ‘though refreshed by renewal … as the rabbi from the shul we’d cut our teeth on spoke…. I was tearing. Eyeing my cousins it was hard not to picture, even now, that Chanukah Bonnie elbowed me out to light the first candle, those Seders I was NEVER the youngest…the picnic Gary ran bases backward. (Do they remember? It mattered not. My brother does).

So I introduced Carrie to the few she’d not met, said Kaddish with the throng I well knew, and placed a rock on the stone of a man who loved me more (I’m sure) than he liked me, but did not forsake family.

And I left.

 5 PM Wilson Mills and SOM Center Roads. The sun is shining.

Dinner for Helen’s 100th wasn’t so much a celebration as an acknowledgement.  This lady — the only living blood who’s known me longer than Harold — never celebrates; ‘ just not in her DNA. Our aunt, rather, in the course of her lifetime, has trudged from quiet young maiden to mid-aged “old maid” to a rigid yet fragile fossil— completely bypassing a term as curmudgeon. She is gentle now, age eroding her edge.

I preferred a booth; Margie thought a table. Aunt Helen didn’t care, demanding only that H sit on both sides of her.

It was a hollow hour— small talk in vogue.

We used to walk a tightrope with our aunt. Play it safe, we would, fear governing our comment.

But she’s lost her “game”, so it seems. And it’s no longer fun. So seldom does she leap on our phrases…so rarely does she hurl verbal venom…that the thrill is gone, and conversing is no longer a competition.

She’s morphed, I submit, into a nice, little old lady.

I miss my aunt.

I crave—yeah, I yearn for that trademark inflexibility, that immutable illogic to the logic she spewed when she played in her prime.

Gingerly we guided her to the car after dinner.

“No steps” I assured her, as she tepidly walked.
“No steps?” she asked again.
“No steps.”

We drove home peacefully, the four of us. Leesa slept, Carrie spoke, Helen listened, and I thought.

What I miss most it occurred, is that I miss my youth.

10 PM and at home.  Pitch dark outside, with the sun still shining.

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