Rain. Gentle; a fine, refreshing mist. The universe cares for my roses and the new plantings in my garden patch below while I drink coffee and wrap my mind in the the cloudy haze that softens also blurs the skyline seen through my window. A blank reverie. The Empire State Building is lost; so is the Freedom Tower where the World Trade buildings once squarely stood. Brick colors are fuzzy cider or smeared rayos de sol in this light. Easy on the eye. The annual postcard has arrived to verify Aunt Dorothy’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of a date of death as calculated in accordance with the Hebrew calendar. Though I don’t know how to recite it, the Mourner’s Kaddish is meant to be spoken and a candle to be lit. These candles are easily found for about fifty cents each at Gristides. The date this year is June 11th. (She died on June 9th.) This reminder ferries my thoughts to the cold ring with two stones (on my middle finger, right hand) I found among Dorothy’s possessions when helping to clear her apartment. Also it brings to mind my little Cahier ‘Lost and Found’ published by the American University of Paris and Sylph Editions shortly after her death. Following, an excerpt from that work about Dorothy’s last days and funeral:
Home from long day with Dorothy. Picked up
new prescription and a few groceries, though
she hardly eats and even worse, now with her
teeth broken. Dorothy was in bed the whole
time, unfortunately quite agitated. Much calling
for Mama Minnie. I just sat w/her stroked her
back and arms for some time. The awake and
agitated state has been going on for a week.
Wishing you a smooth flight back to NY tomorrow.
I’ll be waving the French Flag when you fly overhead.
The ORL told me that eardrum had closed/healed. He fished out bits of
blood (?) which were glued to it, that helped. He was very vague
about whether or not my hearing would completely come back. That’s it.
So, yes, I’m happy, but wish that my ears would be equal again.
My plane touched down at Newark 3:30.
Dorothy “passed away” at 3:55. I made it to
her place in time to kiss her many times, say
goodbye, stay beside her until the men
from the funeral home came to get her and the
apartment was sealed by the police. My sister
Maggie had (by amazing chance) been with her
when she died. Maggie chose clothes for the
burial also found a pair of shoes, said, Look.
Only Dorothy would still have hushpuppies in
perfect condition. She turned them over, we saw
protective metal taps at toe and heal. My
sister Nancy rushed to town, my cousin Alice came
from New Hampshire. My brother, who had not
seen Dorothy kept repeating, I phoned her three years
ago, she didn’t know who I was. How would he
know that she hardly knew any of us through
these years and if she might have, she couldn’t
see us, couldn’t hear us . . .
My sister’s and I spent Wednesday at the Redden’s
Funeral Parlor on 14th Street making funeral
arrangements and Thursday morning at Surrogate’s
court on Chambers Street submitting papers so
that the apartment could be unsealed. Friday
was the funeral. My father, Dorothy’s only
surviving sibling (once there were 5) would
not be coming. We were told three versions:
First, that he didn’t remember who she was
when he was told, second that he remembered
her but did not react when he was told of her death,
these told by my mother, third, told by the live-in
nurse who heard him crying and asked what was
wrong, his reply, My sister died and they won’t let
me go to the funeral.
It poured rain as our small cortege – two limousines,
one hearse – drove along Bleecker Street, just
south of my parent’s apartment where my father
remained with the nurse. The cortege then went
over the Manhattan Bridge, through parts of
Brooklyn, where Dorothy and my father spent their
impoverished childhoods. Dorothy had been
a member of my grandfather’s burial Society –
Zosmar Young Men’s Benev. Association –
brought with my grandfather Sam from Russia
100 years before. Buried by Zosmar was
my grandfather, grandmother, great aunt, (who my
grandfather married when my grandmother died,)
one uncle, in graves nearby but whose exact locations
are unknown to us, in the cemetery near to Belmont
Redden’s arranged for a Rabbi who met us at
the puddled entrance to the cemetery. The grave
was open, a mound of wet dirt and a shovel beside
The Rabbi said a few prayers: the Twenty-Third
Psalm, several short prayers in Hebrew, and
finally Kadish. Then, David, Maggie’s husband,
David played The Internationale on his violin while
Maggie and I held large black umbrellas above
the fine violin.
We each threw a shovel-full of wet dirt on the
coffin. My mother asked if I’d throw one on
for her which I did. Back in the limo’s to the Village,
to eat bagels, lox, smoked sable, white fish, etc. with our