Dearly departed


Bubby was 89 when she died

I’ll never forget the day the ambulance came

Into the small maid’s room

She lived off the kitchen of my grandparents’ apartment

With her calico comforter and the smell of old age

Two white garbed black men with rubber soles

Wheeled the gurney in and my great grandmother out

Later, facing the wet wind at the memorial park

We each contributed one handful of cold earth

The old Jewish people wept

Uncle Willy had to be sedated

Grandma Ida was next to go

Ill for weeks with colitis

I came home from Indiana University

joining the family at the Cincinnati hospital

She didn’t look too bad to me

But she never did get better

At Ida’s funeral, her son Irvin, my father

Had an emotional breakdown

“Look what they’ve done to her”

He cried, mad with grief, regret

My mother’s dad, Auggie, died too young

Peritonitis resulting from a botched gall bladder operation

Smoking in the backyard after the service with my Uncle Ray

My mother’s brother — just one year older than me

At 14 death had made him the man of the family

Great Aunt Rae passed when I was in my twenties

A diminutive generous woman

Rae spent much of her adult life taking care of her invalid husband

I never knew Boyd to move out of the backroom

Lying lifeless on a hospital bed with pasty white skin

He died but I did not attend his service

When Aunt Rae passed, she left each of us kids $5000

It was enough to pay off my student loans

Grandma Eva died when I was in my forties

My son Isadore did not attend the service

Nor my wife

There was no funeral as she donated her body to science

At her home, the family gathered to recollect

I recounted the story of my wedding day

When Eva sat at the bar in bad fur

I had introduced her to some colleagues,

Joking around and feeling lit

She looked at me hard and sad

And said she was glad I had found someone

Who would pay me for being full of shit

Grandpa Sandy made it to 96

Playing cards and chasing tail until the end

Uncle Willy and wife Aunt Sadie

Glamorous Aunt Sophie, Uncle Buzz, her elegant doctor

All the old folks from Passovers past

Gone now, buried, blurry memories

Cousin Stanley died this past month at 60

He was a young man as I was making

The transition from little boy to big boy

During my stamp collecting days

I asked him what his hobby was

“Renee” wife at the time his response

He smoked long after the rest had quit

And died by his habits

My folks saw him at the funeral

Of Cousin Ruthie

Blind in a home, she died alone

He stood amongst the mourners

Watching the remaining faces

Wondering what it all meant

Knowing he was next

I think of my parents

In their seventies now

I watch my hair grows

Thin and grey

And anticipate another rainy day

    

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