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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:

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Dear Sisters:

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.

Nancy

Lievelieve,

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.

Kisses Francine

Dear Simon,

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

Race Track.

 

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

father who sat at the head of the table…….IMG_1792

Lost and Found

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