This morning my cell phone rang with a caller identification number that was not familiar to me. The "718" telephone area code covers boroughs of Brooklyn, and the borough of Queens, New York. It was, of all people, a funeral director from Brooklyn who asked me if I had a loved one near and begged me to sit down (his tone of voice was well-rehearsed and matter-of-fact). The voice asked me how I was and recommended that I sit down. I told him I was alright. I thought that perhaps my cousin Bobby had suffered an injury or health episode that took his life.

I nearly pushed the button to put the call into voice mail. I guess it was fate that I decided to take the call and be willing to hang-up on any of the many sales people who've garnered my direct phone number from my website.

God forgive me for forgetting my mother's sister, Dorothy, whom we affectionately called "Tootsie." She'd finally died, at over 70 years of age. What, on earth would I do for my cousin Timmy, who'd lived with his mother for the entirety of his 52 years? How would he go on, being far more fond of his job at pizza parlors and his video games — his simple life? I, with so many responsibilities, envied him that simple life, the simple, non-materialistic life my Buddhist teacher had directed me to embrace.

When I was a little baby, Tootsie's relationship with her husband (a loser) came to a head when their verbal arguments one day erupted into physical violence on his part. He hit her; she only five feet tall and he a monster at 6'1". What a coward! She called my parents immediately. We harbored her and my cousin in our humble home in Flushing, New York until the divorce was final and my cousins on my father's side (the cops) guaranteed her safety.

Thereafter, she and my cousin lived in apartments in Queens and Brooklyn, New York, just outside the magnificent city on the island of Manhattan. I recall many happy lunches of bologna and cheese sandwiches and Campbell's chicken noodle soup in that first apartment in Queens, down the street and over a block; within walking distance of our row house in the same borough. My cousin Timmy and I collected bottle-tops; not the plastic-lined twist-offs one finds today, but metal caps from beer and soda bottles which were lined with cork and would only release the beverage within with the aid of what we called a "church key;" a beer bottle opener to you young whelps!

This morning, (prior to the phone call) I'd been distracted by the regular, Sunday morning visits of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. I was not as ferociously argumentative with them; this morning I hadn't the energy. They were in the house, as was my housekeeper, when the call came. Some of you, my beloved friends on E2 were on the catbox, and I beg their forgiveness for leaving them without saying more than that there were folks at the door.

Suffice it to say that the evangelists left at the teary conclusion of that phone call. When they asked me if there was some way to help, I told them that no, they weren't going to take me out for martinis so don't bother. One of the poor, devoted innocents actually asked "What do you mean by 'Martini'?"

I don't know if I'm upset with guilt over not seeing her enough, or am upset because this is yet another reminder of my mortality (in a banner year for death; 6 friends/customers and now two family members gone, this one only 9 days from the 2nd anniversary of my father's death, which crushed me.


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.