The unopened package

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So about two months ago I sent a package to Ruth Baer, my great aunt.

I hadn’t seen Aunt Ruth in, oh, three of four year. She’s the wife of my late Grandma Marta’s late brother, to be precise, and throughout my boyhood my family would visit her house on Sleepy Hollow Road in Briarcliff Manor two or three times per year. She was a warm and engaging person whose dining room seemed to come alive every Passover.

I digress.

Yesterday afternoon the package I sent Aunt Ruth was returned to my home. This was a disappointing confusion, so I e-mailed Arthur, her son, and asked for the correct address.

He told me Aunt Ruth had died a couple of days ago.

I can’t say I was shocked. Aunt Ruth was 91, and had been in declining health. My parents visited her recently, and told me such. Still, it’s a jarring thing—death. Someone is here, then someone is gone forever. They exist, then they’re a story told in the past tense. You exchange cards, then you stop exchanging cards.

After receiving the e-mail from Arthur, I opened the package.

Here’s what I wrote …

RIP.

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I included a signed Gunslinger (Not that she would have read it. Aunt Ruth was anything but a sports fan) …

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