He remembers not what he said five, ten, fifteen minutes ago. He remembers not what he has to do today or that he just checked his calendar which informs him of every minute task ahead. He remembers not that he has told me several times an hour the same joke, anecdote of someone once famous, or about how his neighbor and he are just friends. He remembers not that he has told me about the cookies and potato chips, the cans of vegetables the packets of coffee and tea. He remembers not the hours of my sister worked to put together a packet of comparison prices and services at two different cemeteries, the many conversations she had with him, the notes sent to him, the changing of his mind from one place to the other even though it was more expensive it was worth it because it was the same place his mom and sister were and he wanted to be near them. He remembers none of this.
So when I remembered for him that the man was coming today to make final his final place of residency and that he would have to write a big check he remembered none of it and stated he might refuse to have anything to do with it.
But when he finally signed the deed of his next home, he remembered the first home - the one he began in, the nice place in Brooklyn before abject poverty and his father's rage crushed the life out of his heart, the kindness out of his brother and the hope out of his sisters. Before that all happened, his family was rich enough to own a phone.
"Dad, what was your phone number in Brooklyn?"
And without missing a beat, he replied, "HAdenway-6781."
And now for the joke:
Three old bubbymeisters are sitting around.
Ethel bursts into tears. "Oy, oy, oy! The other night I got out of bed, put on my hat, my coat, my purse, I went into the kitchen and opened the icebox and I don't know what I was doing. Bessie, this ever happen to you?"
Bessie bursts into tears. "Oy, oy, oy! Me too! The other night I got out of bed, put on my hat, my coat, my purse, I went into the living room, stood on the piano chair, I don't know what I was doing. Gussie, this ever happen to you?"
Gussie drew herself up in her chair and said, "I'm 92 years old. I got my health, my wealth, and thank G-d, I got my mind. Knock wood. (knocks wood). Hello? Come in?"
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.