276 girls


How is this possible?  There have been decades of atrocities, unbreakable cycles of violence, the world over. Countless children sacrificed to the power struggles over land and its resources.  Nigeria has devolved into chaos.

Legacies of colonialization and Western arrogance.  And backlash.

This is the one case that is gaining international attention.  Because of the brazenness and insanity of the Boko Haram fighters.  How does a militant group, fighting in the name of God, kidnap 276 school girls to sell them into marriage and slavery?

These girls.  These poor girls.  Their poor families.  I cannot imagine what it is to have my child taken from me by lawless gangs who roam with impunity.

This massive kidnapping is about radicalism and the cheapness of human life, in general, and that of a girl’s life, in particular.

And the knowledge of the perpetrators that we, in the United States, will soon turn back to the results of the NFL draft.  And then they can do this again.  And again.  And again.  Until no child is spared from the war crimes.
Our souls, and our beliefs in the sanctity of human life and in the God-given right of a child to realize his or her potential, lie in the balance of our nation’s response to this crisis and others like it across the globe.  Let’s find these girls, airlift them and their families and share the bounty of our nation with them.  It isn’t fair to those left behind, but it is a start.  And, in Jewish theology, it is a person’s moral obligation to save even one life even if one cannot save everyone.

God bless and keep these girls, and keep them safe from more ravages of war.


Mom and Dad always taught us that if you lose, you lose with dignity.  You don’t take your marbles and stomp off.

Except I never played marbles and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Just like my son doesn’t understand the phrase, “you sound like a broken record.”

But, eventually, I got the point.  If you lose fair and square, then you congratulate the winner and move on.  You don’t try to pretend the game never happened or that the winner cheated or that you were robbed of the trophy.

Unless, of course, you are part of the Tea Party.  Then you think that G-d is your co-pilot and that Barack Obama is not a legitimate president because, well, how could we elect a black man and no black man was ever born in the State of Hawaii.  (SIDEBAR:  Ted Cruz, you were born in Canada and had dual citizenship until a week ago.)

Let’s be fair.  We have had presidents who ascended to the highest office in the land under a cloud.  The “elections” of John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush come to mind.

But the Tea Party did not mind George W. Bush being president.  Hmmmmmmm.

Maybe because they “won”?  Hey, I remained an ordinary, law abiding citizen and patriot even through the terrible years of Bush/Cheney.  And I did not think they were duly elected, but the Supreme Court spoke.

I didn’t take my marbles and stomp off.  But, now the Tea Party is mad because Barack Obama is president, and a legitimate president.

But the government shut down and the debt ceiling should not be about one man and his health care reform and his birth certificate. 

These issues are about the people you all pretend to care about.

This is America and the majority spoke.  Be patriots.  Show the world that this is your country, come what may. Come on, I dare you, Tea Party members of Congress.

Put country first.

Hey, I am as liberal as they come and I say to you, “Less government? ok.  No government? Anarchy.”

And anarchy is treason.

And so are breaching the public trust and the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

And then you will see citizens like me  — middle-aged, economically secure (or so we thought) taxpayers — take to the streets and scream for your heads because you let our nation default.

So, before you smugly take your marbles and stomp off, remember, if you let our nation default —-

then you are no better than Benedict Arnold, betraying your country and fellow citizens and playing roulette with the total collapse of the republic.  

The hangman awaits.  Your move.

Hope and Change

Yom Kippur ended just two hours ago.  Jews fast on Yom Kippur as a part of penance and as a sign of the solemnity of the Holy Day.  And as part of our petition to G-d to save our lives and inscribe us in the Book of Life for the coming year.

The fast is from sundown to sundown.  Actually, it is longer.  It starts when you last eat before you rush to synagogue to get good seats (our egalitarian synagogue does not have assigned seating) until you eat again the next night — at least 25 hours later, when there are three stars in the sky.  But really, this is New York.  You can’t see stars and you can’t immediately break the fast. First you have to push people into the street to steal the cab and make your way to your break-fast meal.  Because no time like the present to start sinning again and, if you are going to start, you need to do it in a spectacular way, like stealing that cab from people who, only minutes ago, you hugged and kissed and wished a happy and healthy Jewish New Year.

But, I digress.

SOS wanted to fast this year.  He is only 11 years-old and I was not a fan of his fasting so young.  He was determined, and at points during the day, miserable to be around.  But he was steadfast and resisted my entreaties to eat.  He spent the whole day in synagogue with us, until the Shofar (ram’s horn) blew at 8pm, ending the Holy Day and the fast.  We didn’t start eating until after 9pm.

As we walked to the restaurant for our break-fast meal, SOS said, “I won’t survive another minute!!”

“Sweetie, I promise you will.  You are hungry but you won’t expire.  Some people live like this.”

“E-Mom, do you know that there are so many kids like me who live in the City  and go to sleep hungry?  I have never felt this hungry before.  This is horrible.”

“Can you imagine being this hungry and going to sleep at night or having to go to school?”


SOS gripped my hand tighter.

“We have to do something about this.”


Fatigue Fatigue

Election fatigue.  Fiscal Cliff fatigue.  War fatigue.  War hero sex scandal fatigue.  Bomb Iran or not fatigue. Crazy politicians saying psycho things fatigue. Human-engineered natural disasters fatigue. Finger-pointing fatigue.  European debt crisis fatigue.  Stock market sinking fatigue.  Living in precarious economic times (controlled by others) fatigue.  Dealing with a failing parent fatigue.

Wow, I am tired.  If one or more of these things come to fruition, it (or they) will dwarf the others and can send our nation, our society and/or just me into a tailspin.

In fact, I was too tired to get all excited that President Obama was re-elected.  I was more relieved that the months of uncertainty were over.  And BOB, who lives in a Red State, wrote a poignant Facebook post just before the election that made me re-think any self righteous glee after the president’s re-election.  BOB wrote:

I don’t post, particularly about politics. Others do, for whatever reason. I am certain that whoever wins the election tomorrow, and his supporters, will continue to be reviled and mocked by those that did not vote for him. I do not care who my friends vote for and will respect the fact that they believe what they believe. I do not try to lobby them and I ignore any efforts to lobby me. The diversity we have is what makes us a unique place in the world and what makes no sense to one makes all the sense in the world to another. So, my hope is that on Wednesday morning we get back to (or start) respecting each other, doing good in our own way and not just complaining about what others are not doing the way we see fit, and working together instead of bullying and demeaning, recognizing that it is too late to take all of that money that was spent (read: wasted) campaigning on all levels to help feed hungry mouths here and elsewhere around the globe. And that’s all I have to say about that.

BOB is a good and smart man.

But Nate Silver (fivethirtyeight.com) is my new pin-up boy (ok, so many levels of complexity there).  Nate:  you have gotten far too many love letters from straight and gay men and women for a numbers geek.  I think Brad Pitt’s agent is trying to have the exact tally sealed.  It is a Hollywood thing.  And that guy with a girl’s name who is really popular now is soooooo not loving you right now.  Neither is Karl Rove and that is just fine with me.

But, I digress, comme d’habitude.

I am so tired of our national issues being treated like a really bad reality TV show that masquerades as news.

I am hungry for good news, for hope, for public service without political advantage.  I am hungry for good things happening to good people who work hard and do the right thing.  I am hungry for a commitment by those of us who have more to share with those who have less.  Not wealth redistribution; rather, compassion.

Good policy and hope come from searching, sometimes emotional, debates about our national values and our common future and how we best meet the challenges ahead.  It involves compromise and respect.  It is not a winner-take-all game.

Until then, the fatigue will slowly, but surely, become indifference or powerlessness.  And, assuming it spreads beyond just me to the greater populace, that will bring a good and mighty nation to its knees more surely than any war or any economic crisis could ever.

Getting Out the Vote

Yesterday, POB, SOS and I joined a group of well-heeled, mulit-cultural (I might add) Upper West Siders on a bus to West Philadelphia to get out the vote for Obama.

We arrived at an Obama field office.

We were given clipboards with lists of voters who hadn’t voted in 2010.  We had to knock on doors to make sure that these citizens knew that their vote was important, what they needed for proper ID (and that the Pennsylvania voter suppression law was struck down) and the location of their polling booths.

POB and I were given names on opposite side of the street.  SOS tagged along with one of us.  People were so welcoming and glad we were out in the cold making sure that they knew where to vote.  Many people weren’t at home; the people who answered the doors said they were at work.

West Philly is not exactly the cushy part of town.  It was working class until the Great Recession.  Now, parts are boarded up.

High unemployment.  Crime skyrocketing.  See the sign in the pizza place below.








When I was in there buying a pizza, someone came in with a hoodie, and the cashier said, “take off your hoodie, or I am calling the police.”  The management is serious about the hoodie thing.

It seemed (to my white, upper middle class, eye) that many needed a reminder that their vote counts.  Certainly, with all the attempts at voter suppression, a person could give up hope.  But, more than anyone else, their lives are literally on the line — the poverty line — depending on the outcome on Tuesday.

Some places were scary and creepy.  SOS was a little unnerved by these places.  Especially, a young boy who was outside with no one minding him.  (Yes, sweetie, I thought, please think about this when you re-enter your rarefied world.)

Among the three of us, we knocked on 120 doors and got some very enthusiastic responses (once they realized we weren’t canvassing for Romney).

POB, SOS and I talked about our adventure over dinner tonight.  I tried to make the point to SOS that his great-grandparents were the working (or sometimes not working) poor who lived and raised their children in tenements and then, later on, in nicer places.  But his grandparents had a great public school system and there were jobs for them when they graduated.  And that I am one generation removed from this neighborhood.  And Grandpa got mixed up with a gang before his brothers intervened (and then beat the crap out of him).

I don’t know if he understood the importance of what we did, as citizens of this country, and as a way to pay forward our family’s good fortune and opportunity by re-electing President Obama.  I believe this.  And I always will.

an H-E-N-D

H-E-N-D?  Human-engineered, natural disaster.  Hurricane Sandy.  I would have called it a man-made natural disaster, but that sounded too oxymoronic (however, true).

And it would confuse the morons who don’t believe that humans are at least, in part, responsible for climate change.  Ok, I don’t have to be insulting, but let’s just leave it like this:  it has to better for the planet if we don’t dump toxins in the oceans or let toxins loose into the atmosphere.  If we were as gentle with the world as we expect our loved ones to be with us, then maybe we wouldn’t need a political-scientific war of words.

Since I am not good at the big theories, let me tell you about a small, unintended, consequence of H-E-N-D Sandy:  Dad’s care.

With power outages predicted, one of Dad’s children or children-in-law needed to be with him, even though he had a home health aide.  Why? What if he fell, or became confused and agitated, and the phones were down, how would the health aide — who cannot leave his side — get help?  What if, as happened, no one comes to relieve the home health aide because everyone is stranded?  One home health aide couldn’t leave for 60 hours; no one could get to Dad’s house to relieve her and she had no way of getting home.  We needed to be there to let her sleep and help with cooking and minding Dad.  And Dad needs minding.  Especially at night.

We are lucky.  Dad didn’t lose power.  We live nearby.  We married good, kind and loving people who were willing to treat Dad like their own dad and take shifts in Dad’s care.  I slept there twice; HOSOB once.  POB and SOS were there during the day.  SOB had to be in her hospital because other hospitals were evacuating very sick people to her ICU.

But so many of the elderly or infirm in this country are not so lucky.  Their children don’t live nearby.  They can’t come to the rescue in a disaster.

I bet a lot of people went without medications, good food, and proper hygiene during these past three or so days.  And I bet they were frightened.

So, don’t think about this on a global scale.  Think about your neighbors, whether they are elderly or the children who couldn’t fly to their parents’ rescue.  Then, think about your gas guzzler car, your over-processed food, your bottled water.  Then, consider how you (and I) contributed to the crazy weather patterns that made H-E-N-D Sandy an epic disaster.

The Rights and Responsibilities of a Free Society

Forget Kumbaya.  Forget Elvis Costello’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?”  Let’s have a civics lesson.  What prompted this?  A near altercation on the subway.

This is what happened:  An older woman asked a young woman to lower her music.  The younger woman, responded by saying, “No, she didn’t ask me that?” over and over.  And then she offered that someone who made that kind of comment should get “bitch-slapped”.  That went on for a while.  The  young woman seemed a little crazy — or an aggressive sociopath.  A reasonable answer would have been, “No.”

The two women — strangers to each other — got off at the same station.  Then the young woman accused the older woman of “touching” her as they got off the subway and started to go off about her rights to play her music in a public place.  I was afraid for the older woman and almost got off the train (which meant jumping over people) until I could see that the older woman hurried away and the younger woman appeared more interested in yelling than in giving chase.  By then, someone had taken my seat.  Oh well.

After the doors closed in our car, a young man talked, ad nauseum, in a loud voice that the older woman was wrong and that she was lucky that the young woman didn’t get violent.  Because the old woman deserved to get beaten if, for example, she interfered with his entitlement to play his music the way he wanted, even if that meant he played it loud in the subway.  I was tempted to interject but after my last near altercation in the subway yesterday (where I told some teenagers to stop harassing a young woman), I learned that idiots are not worth my health or life.

The younger woman was troubled.  The man in the subway who agreed with her either was grand-standing or is an ignoramus.  I assume the latter.

So, let’s talk about rights and entitlements. The Constitution doesn’t confer the right to do anything and everything.  It creates a system of obligations with safeguards to prevent tyranny. Entitlements are creatures of legislation; otherwise, you have the right to free speech and to starve to death.

The right to free speech is limited to reasonable time, reasonable place and reasonable manner.  Inherent in that limitation is that speech cannot unreasonably interfere with other’s people’s and the states’ rights to the public peace.  So, it is pretty well settled that you cannot hold a rally in a residential area after 10 pm.  I don’t know whether  playing music loud enough to fill a New York subway car is free speech.  This may be part of the delicate balance that makes our country great.  But I do know that the older woman had a right to ask and the younger had the right to say no.

Entitlements?  A safety net for those who, try as hard as they can, they can’t earn enough to feed their families.  The social compact is that, once able, these people will give back to the system.  Just like my parents proudly paid their taxes to a country that gave them a free, excellent education.  And just as I am proud to pay my taxes so that other strivers, like my parents and grandparents, will be able to make it.  But I don’t recollect that the social compact went beyond sustenance, shelter and education to, let’s say, the entitlement to play music as loud as one wants in a public place.

I grew up knowing that democracy doesn’t guarantee a human’s survival (but if that human survives, he or she can stand on a soap box in Washington Square Park).  Our society is a complicated web of social compacts that hinge one upon the other.  Two of the underpinnings of this web are civic and civility.

If this episode is any example, this great experiment that is our nation is in the process of implosion.  Unless, of course, that man would be good about my playing Patsy Cline out, loud and proud.



Sunday Dinner

FOPOB (father of POB (partner of blogger)) is a hard guy to pin down.  He doesn’t like to “commit” to coming over for Sunday night dinner when he is in the City (and not at his beach house).  This weekend was no exception: he wasn’t able to say yes or no when asked again yesterday. He’d let us know.  Ok.

In fact, he let us know by coming over at 3:15pm, unannounced.  That’s so early even for MY dad who would come at 9am, if we let him.  That’s ok.  I couldn’t even emerge from the bedroom until 3:45pm.  Then I felt guilty and let POB escape to the kitchen.  At 4:15pm, FOPOB was itching to watch the Giants game.  And in a slightly-passive-but-really-overly-aggressive move, I told SOS (our son, source of sanity) to keep FOPOB company, believing full well that SOS would get bored within 5 minutes and start trying to convince FOPOB to change to either Nature or Discovery channels.  And it would drive FOPOB nuts.

You think that wow I can be awfully mean sometimes.  Yes, yes, I can.

Somehow, despite my best-laid plans, SOS started to get into the game.  (My son:  the child who went from worrying about the euro crisis to watching people gratuitously concuss each other in 48 hours.  I am having whiplash and I will remind him of this indignity until the day I die or the guilt kills him — whatever.)  The Giants versus the Redskins.  The Redskins?  Really?  Do we still have teams with humans (in this case, Native Americans) as mascots?  Haven’t we progressed as a civilization?  Oh, wait, that is my way left-of-center whine.  I am a centrist now.  I digress.

FOPOB was impatient at cocktail hour (6pm) because the Redskins (pause, take a deep breath) were beating the Giants.  And, because HOSOB (husband of SOB (sister of blogger)) and CB (cousin birder) were talking about bird nerd things that even a loving and adoring  sister-in-law and cousin could not possibly abide.  SOB was seeking shelter in the kitchen with POB, leaving me to referee the “boys”.

So I threw out random things, like the blue inner feathers of a mallard and the way hummingbirds make their calls with their feathers, to bring the conversation within normal nerd parameters.  Nothing doing.  DOB (Dad of blogger) rather adeptly tried to steer the conversation away from what could have been mortal boredom (did I mention how much I adore HOSOB and CB?) by musing about the difference in conversations he had when he was our age 20 years ago.  OK, DOB, that was 40 years ago when you were our age, but who is counting.  Yes, it was just after the 60s and you were wearing mustard colored bell bottoms and Mom was wearing floral halter tops, “hostess” pants and Elvira the Vampiress make-up, but I am sure your politics had sound bases. Still, he had a good point.

FOPOB, who had a moment to shine, instead said flatly that the conversation was boring, he’d rather watch his team lose and did anyone realize that Casablanca was on TV tonight?  I poured everyone more wine.  DOB mentioned he liked it and I told him it was NOT Trader Joe’s $3.50 special Merlot.  “Really?”  DOB was genuinely surprised.  I excused myself to the kitchen where POB was hiding out.  I asked POB to kill me before SOS ever had to have this conversation with me.

Thank G-d Cousin Gentle arrived.  And time to eat.  FOPOB wanted to take dinner-to-go but we locked the door.  SOB had to take a call from the hospital.  SOS wanted to run back and forth from the dinner table to the TV in our room to watch the football game.  I considered Crazy Glue to keep him in his chair but I settled on the Evil Eye of Doom and Despair that I inherited from my mother that kept us in line.  It is amazing how a few moves of the facial muscles can subdue a child.  It worked. Luckily, I also still have the brute strength in my arsenal, if necessary.  But only for a little time more.

At the beginning of the meal, we toasted the many sides of the family that were present.  We toasted our good fortune in being together.  We remembered the victims of the attack on our Nation 10 years ago.

At some point in the conversation, we started talking about the different sources of the Bible and how women may have been writers.  HOSOB asked what I knew about this.  So, of course, I held forth, but with a caveat.  I started with, “Unencumbered as I am with fact or knowledge about the subject matter . . . .”  Cousin Gentle was impressed that I said this.  I was shocked.  I thought this was an implied caveat in any conversation in our family history because clearly Uncle Loud, Cousin Gentle’s father and DOB, would have otherwise been mute for most of their lives.

After that, someone complained that the chicken was salty.  Someone wondered about having added marjoram (a spice I still don’t understand) to the quinoa dish.  FOPOB wanted to take dessert to go (keep trying, dude) in order to watch Casablanca at home on his ginormous TV.

So, we were deep, we were shallow, we were loving, we were honest. .  .and in so doing, we gave meaning to the statement:


I love you all.

The Slippery Slope

I rented a humongous car on Sunday morning for the multi-generational family sojourn to and from Rhinebeck for a family barbeque.  I am a regular at the rental car place and (as long as no one is waiting) I kibbitz with those behind the counter while I wait for my car.  It is a nearby location of a national rental chain with huge corporate profits.  Still, they’ve been in the neighborhood for decades and that’s important.

When I arrived I asked for a portable GPS (remember the trip to Philadelphia?  see prior blog entry), since I forgot to request it when reserving the car.  The car that was scheduled for me had to be driven from another location.  20 minute delay.  No GPS.  I built in extra time so I was ok with it and since no one was around, the people behind the counter and I, well, kibbitzed about this and that.

The guy in charge of the car intake and outflow (how else would it be described) radioed that the exact same model with GPS had just been returned!! Awesome.  Except there was 1/4 of a tank of gas and since the car itself was the size of a military ops vehicle, I would need to refill shortly after getting on the road.

Noooooo problem.  I know that someone would have to go to the bathroom within 5 minutes of clearing Manhattan. This is my family after all.

When I got in the car, there was a full tank of gas.  Hmmm.  I must have heard wrong.   I picked up the brood and off we went.

This morning, I had to return the car.  If you live on the Upper West Side of New York City, you know it is a pain to get gas.   The stations are shoe-horned into crevices along streets leading to major highways and bridges, so getting gas can be life-ending experience.  I look at the fuel gauge.  A little more than 1/4 filled.  I remember that I was told that the tank was only 1/4 filled.  I look at the print-out from the rental place.  Yep, it says 1/4 filled.

I am tired.  I am late for work.  I am late to return the car.  I was planning to write the premium check for my life insurance later this morning when I got to the office.  No one will know if I return the car as-is.  In fact, according to the company’s records, it is a gallon or two ahead. And, don’t I pay enough already to rent a car in Manhattan?

No one will know.  No one.  Actually, someone will know (yoo hoo!!).  I will know.  I who try to teach my child to do the right thing not because you will get rewarded if you do (or get punished if you don’t) but because it is the right thing to do.

I will know.  My parents used to say, “if doing the right thing were easy, everyone would do it.” Yeah, but I can navigate the mania of city driving and I can afford the late charge, the cost of a tank of gas and being late for work.

So, I go to the scary gas station where you have to back out onto a two way street just yards away from that access and exit ramps of the West Side Highway and do a high speed, ultra-alpha-macho U-turn.  Did I mention the school down the street?  Luckily, it is a really long block and there is nothing residential until the corner.  And, anyway, I am always early on my premium payments so if something happened, my family would be ok financially.

I can’t help but think [for those of you who think I am an easy chair liberal who often contemplates my navel, wait for it .  .  . wait for it . . . and a one and a two and a . . . ]:   If we were struggling financially, would I look at it as a gift and stay quiet? (Think Paul Muni in, “I am a Fugitive From the Chain Gang” www.imdb.com/title/tt0023042/.)

Maybe doing the right thing depends on what lies in the balance.

RIP, Cousin Bernie

Cousin Bernie died yesterday,

Cousin Bernie wasn’t really my cousin.  But I didn’t find out that Bernie wasn’t related until my mother’s shiva.  Trust me, that’s when you learn everything about everybody, whether you want to or not.

It turns out that Cousin Bernie was the cousin of Betty, one of my mother’s closest friends from college.  Betty and my mother married two brothers, so Betty was my Aunt Betty by the time I was born.  Cousin Bernie also was (for time enough to have two children) the husband of Blossom, one of Aunt Betty’s and Mom’s other close friends.  For the record, Aunt Betty’s only successful match was Mom and Dad.  The rest were, shall we say, short-lived.

Not only was Cousin Bernie, and therefore, his wife Susan not my cousins, but Blossom wasn’t, and Blossom’s second husband, Aaron, wasn’t and his third wife, Marjorie, wasn’t.  All of which I found out at Mom’s shiva.  And Marjorie was the only one who asked POB (partner of blogger) if we were having a child by a known donor or unknown donor.  You mean she asked that and she wasn’t even related???  You have to admire a woman who picks up the beat of the Blogger family.  No boundaries, ever.

What makes them my family is more important than blood or marriage.   They are related by love.  And if not, love, then time.  After a few decades, even my mother, who would cringe at Bernie’s cursing like a sailor (he was one, in World War II), loved him even though he divorced Blossom and swore in front of her children.  Family is family, however it is constituted.

And so my heart is breaking for his wife Susan, Aunt Betty and Bernie’s kids.  Bernie, my Mom, Aunt Betty, Uncle Willy and my Dad were among the generation that bridged the divide between immigrant children and Americans.  They were the generation that fought in the war that American won.  They all put their foot on the gas pedal and roared into the American dream.  They laid the foundation for my generation’s successes.

And they were characters.  In his later years, Bernie was a caricature of himself.  And we lovingly laughed at his meshugas (craziness).

He used to be president of the New York Runner’s Club.  I ran in one of the New York City Corporate Challenges and, as I crossed the finish line, Bernie was there to hug me.  I said, “Bernie, it is great to see you!” He said, “[Blogger], is that you?”  So, in fact, he was hugging any sweaty, young woman who would hug him back.  “I won’t tell Susan,” I said as I kissed him.  At the next family function, OF COURSE, I told Susan.  Bernie’s response: “Jesus Christ, all of these f*%$ing young beautiful, sweaty women!! What the hell do you want me to do? Wave? How else would I get anyone to hug me. [more profanity].”  That was Bernie.  (You should know that he hit the jackpot with Susan.  He knew it, too.  To use his parlance, he would have been a schmuck to do anything untoward.)

I drove Bernie and his wife Susan to Uncle Willy’s unveiling a few years back. Bernie called and said he hadn’t seen Willy in a while and would I include them in the Great Schlep.  SOB (sister of blogger) and I didn’t know whether he remembered that Uncle Willy had died.  So, during the Great Schlep, we asked leading questions intended to elicit some acknowledgment that Uncle Willy was dead.  We were afraid that Bernie who had a defibrillator and pacemaker in his chest might go into cardiac arrest if he thought he was actually going to see Uncle Willy and then we pulled up to the cemetery. Thank G-d, he knew.

We saw Susan and Bernie at Dad’s 90th birthday party in October.  He looked frail. He was cursing about all the doctors he needed to see and how he had no more room in his schedule.  He also was singing the praises of prune juice as an elixir he recently discovered.  Cousin Bernie never changed.

I just called my Aunt Betty to express my condolences and I started reminiscing about the prune juice and the cursing and the doctors.  She has buried a son, a husband and countless other loved ones.  It was good to hear her chuckle as she mourns another loss in our greatest generation.  As we mourn right along with her.

Rest in peace, Cousin Bernie.