If he had lived longer, would I have gotten to know him better? Would I sit still for the repetitive stories, ask the probing questions, complete the pictures I stopped gathering over 20 years ago? Or would I be annoyed at his slowness and frailty, at the obstinacy and routines of old men. Would I have continued to be too rushed by the crush between generations to note the gifts of either one?
We will not cast people out for their choices in lip color, hosiery, language, religion, or the lack thereof. We will try to be “with it,” but not too with it—if you know what I mean.
“Tomorrow you can see Diana’s new piece.” Diana lives next door to my hostess on the getting-better upper West side. She’s a Liturgical Choreographer, whatever that means. Delightful—a free dance performance in Manhattan. On Sunday morning I trudge off on foot through Central Park to the Church where the performance will start at ten. Ten [...]
We make chocolate into money and gamble for it with our dreidels. If we are very lucky we get many Gimmels. Gimmels are for great—a great miracle happened here. Of course I’m right—I just won all the chocolate.
I couldn’t afford the way memory ransacked my heart and left an airless cell pushing against my windpipe and the corners of my eyes.
So my memories turned to cold water, rushing in through the gash the iceberg left. An iceberg—there’s a devil. How wicked to hide, a towering city of thoughtless cold beneath the water’s surface–invisible and unknowable.
(Carole’s father, Rudy, musing in 1937, Germany) Is my country a part of my blood, my bones, is it the safe feeling under my feet? Or is it the place my family has lived for generations—even after it strips away our rights and treats us hatefully? What identifies me as German? Is it my culture, [...]
In Ephemory, Ruth is helping her Mother, Carole, pack her apartment for a move to the assisted living facility. Handling her memorabilia triggers the memories that Ruth is longing for. What precedes the decision to move Mom?
Each time we take out a memory it is put away changed, no matter how clean our fingers are. We never wash off those precious oils of life: context; the new person we’ve become or the qualities we’ve dismissed; our new audience or no audience. Each time the memory is slightly different. Each time the rememberer is slightly different.
I hadn’t heard my mother say a complete coherent sentence in a couple of years. She had been a relentlessly verbal person. In the last good years she would buttonhole a few folks at my parties and pin them in loquacious assault. These acts of self-perpetuation were unstoppable—beyond reason or interception. One on one, I [...]
I worried about Mommy when the voice reminded registered aliens to report their addresses to the Post Office. Did Mommy have to do this? Did she know? Had she taken care of it? The stern man interrupted my afternoon cartoons. Failure to register was a federal offense. Was my mother an alien? I knew they [...]