Thursday, November 28, 2002

To Bountiful, Redux
Missing Martha at the Olive Garden

Part Four:
Aunt Lil

When my father's parents first moved down to Florida, there was already another reason to visit: Lil and Milty, Grandma Martha's sister and her husband, a pilot. I remember their cactus garden and days on the beach, playing in the sand and sea. Once I got stung by a Man O' War; I remember it hurt like a sonavabitch. Milty loved science and engineering, and we shared a love of figuring out how things ticked; I remember when he passed away I was offered some Geo magazines of his as a keepsake, although I don't know where they are anymore.

And I remember being hurt when I wasn't allowed to go to Uncle Milty's funeral. For a long time, Milty was the only relative I remembered enough to love directly who had died. Cancer. Young, relatively speaking.

My mother's parents had moved to Florida too, and we began to go down to Florida more often, almost every year when we were kids. Martha, Lil's sister, was the family matriarch, strong and strong-willed, boss of the household, a Brooklynite Jewish Grandmother who once came into my own house, opened my refrigerator, and offered me my own food. A woman of willpower and determination, who quit smoking, finally, in her late seventies.

I could write a book about Martha, but it's too soon, I think. I miss her.

Four months ago, Martha fell into a coma and passed on. Two days later, on July 15th, at 8:14 in the morning, Willow Myla Farber was born by planned C-Section: Myla for Martha, and for Mildred, Darcie's grandmother, who passed a few years after Darcie and I first started dating. I sent a eulogy, which my brother read, reportedly with aplomb and maturity. But I missed the funeral: Jewish law mandates a quick burial any day but the Sabbath day, and the baby was too close.

Lillian, her sister, lives alone in a complex of ten thousand senior citizens outside Boca Raton “for the security,” a twenty minute drive from the now-sold sister she loved and sometimes hated for weeks at a time, with no one to call on the phone just to say hello. We went to her the afternoon of the 24th, Sunday, and took her out to the Olive Garden at her request…and recreated Martha as best we could.

And were thankful together.

posted by boyhowdy | 5:06 PM |

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