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Aunt Barbara’s pad

Barbara with daughters Alison (left) and Sharon.
Barbara with daughters Alison (left) and Sharon. Circa late-1970s

I am writing this from an apartment in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

It is large and decorated and gifted with a patio that overlooks some beautiful viewage.

It is a place I love. It is also somewhat sad.

Probably, oh, 40 years ago my wife’s grandparents purchased this place, then lived here (I presume) happily until their passings. The last owner was my wife’s Aunt Barbara, a warm, loving, embracing woman whose dedication to family went unrivaled and whose annual post-Yom Kippur break fast gathering was a thing of gangsta beauty. You can see the video here, but take my word—Aunt Barbara spared no cost or effort in making sure we Jews (and a good number of non-Jews) ate like bagel-loving kings.

Anyhow, Barbara was the kind of relative you dream of gaining via marriage. She was terrific to my kids, she was inquisitive and smart and she actually bought my books (and pushed them upon friends!). She was a gem of gem.

Tragically, two years ago Aunt Barbara passed suddenly, and our family was legitimately crushed (I wrote about it here). While time certainly makes things easier, I’m not entirely sure it ever erases loss or altogether numbs the feelings.

But here’s the thing …

As I sit here in Aunt Barbara’s pad, I see photographs she picked. I see the furniture she sat in. I see the phone she spoke on. I see the mirror she gazed into. I’m using a key she used, sitting at the kitchen table where she ate breakfast. And I love that. I absolutely love that. Because, one way or another, we all pass on. I mean, it’s inevitable, and time is out of our control.

What I hope, personally, is that someone thinks to himself/herself, “Hmm … Jeff sat here” or “Jeff used this pen.” And, if just for a moment, they recall a warm memory. A conversation. A look. A shared meal.

I wish Barbara were here.

But, in her absence, I’m thinking about her.

That’s something.

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