Sunday, August 22, 2010


“We are orphans now!” my oldest brother gravely announced the day my father died.

“You know…when I think orphan—I think of a hollow cheeked Oliver Twist or perhaps Jane Eyre starving at some horrible charity school with sadistic teachers.” I said…trying to unsuccessfully cheer him up. “ I don’t think about a bunch for middle age people with kids of their own qualify as “orphans” in the strictest sense. “

My eldest brother always had a dramatic flair…in a Shakespearian sort of way…NOT a Barbara Streisand/Judy Garland way…. The rest of us find this personality trait annoying, but my mother always reminded us—he keeps life interesting. Of course she was not the one being roused from a sound sleep to creep down three flights of stairs and out of the house to the local graveyard to “avenge the death” of our missing cat that was probably run over by a car. She was not the one charged with “securing” one part of the house since a mentally challenged person was reported missing from a half-way house and my brother insisted that he was no doubt a "criminally insane murderer" stalking our ramshackle home.

Of course, my parents both agreed that ONLY an insane person would willing stalk a house full of wild children, assorted smoking, chattering adults and too many animals to count.

Yet—my brother is right…this once. Even if it is only symbolic…there is certain feeling like the bottom has dropped out of your life when you realize that your parents are gone.

A friend’s 87 year old mother died a few weeks ago. She had lived a long and happy life and had just come back from Norway where she saw her childhood town, but my friend was so, so sad. Her pain bought back my own clear, sharp, longing after my mother died. It is as if some invisible mooring has been removed from your life and you are waiting…waiting for a line to be thrown to you, but you know it is not coming, yet you linger. Sometimes…just sometimes…a Shakespearean view of life is appropriate.

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