My favorite uncle was Jewish, a fact completely lost on me until I was 16 or so. He was born 50 years before me, in Feb 1928. His parents came here from Russia in 1905. When I became Red Cross certified as a lifeguard, he gave me the engraved pocket knife he received as a lifeguard many years before. He's been gone for just over 10 years now, and I still miss him every day. Recently I found a stash of cards and postcards he sent to me over the years. None signed with his real name, of course. I looked back at the online funeral guestbook, and I can see that those who knew and loved him most, didn't sign with their real names, either. Most notably are the entries from Henrietta and Beulah Blackheart.
In 1991 I met my godfather's new girlfriend, and I shared the line my grandmother (the aforementioned Beulah Blackheart) had asked me to recite. "Oh, goody, you've brought me a playmate!" You see, she was young, maybe 25 or so. Thankfully she didn't hold it against me. I was a snotty know-it-all teenager, and they were dragging me out of town to a "rustic" weekend in the country. To say I was unhappy would be a grave understatement. She understood my tiny teen angst, and befriended me. She was funny, sweet, and her kid was adorable times a hundred. We lost her in 1992, and it still makes my heart hurt. This week I saw a picture of her son, all grown up, and couldn't help but see her in his eyes. I remember how she laughed when he dropped his first F bomb at 4. When his park outing was cut short and he said, "Ah shit, it's starting to fuckin' rain." She laughed and said, "Well at least he used it the right way!"
They say that time heals all wounds. They are wrong.