With Neither Maize Nor Wattle

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I was reminiscing this afternoon and sharing with Henry my most memorable Thanksgivings. It was a broad task for sure. But I tried.

Best Food? 2001 at my sister’s. No one can best her Prime Rib and Brisket. And that year, we also had turkey and oysters and a lot of people.
I was extremely emotional because Michael died just a month earlier.

Most Fun Thanksgiving? 1989 at the house I shared with the anti-Christ. The day stands out because everybody was happy and mingled well. We had moved in two days earlier and I was up all night organizing all our new kitchen. The weather was perfect.

We danced, listened to music, hung out on the deck, and threw a frisbee with our sheepdog.
After folks started to leave, three particular friends, my sister and her husband each fixed a cocktail and secured a seat for ROUND 2.

Most Forgettable?  1974 at my mother’s. My Father insisted on coming over. They had divorced 8 months earlier and he was living in Dallas and in a relationship that he rekindled from 1951. He showed no interest in my sister’s first year in Middle School or my freshman year at UNC. As soon as our utensils were gathered on plates, Polly and I left. It was all just so wrong

Most exotic Thanksgiving? 1958 in DC, but my mother was in Minnesota where she worked for Eugene McCarthy.

Legend has it that my father invited all of his friends who were from Germany, Italy, Kenya, and other points in between. After cocktails, everyone went into the dining room to eat. I was sound asleep on the sofa in the livingroom.

I woke up at some point … and crawled and toddled all around the room. As I advanced I looked into each glass and ate the garnishes. I happily dined on mainly cherries from Manhattans and olives from Martinis. I also finished each drink.

When dinner was over, my father and guests returned to the livingroom and found me sound asleep. Okay. Okay. I had passed out on the previously mentioned sofa.

The rest of the day unfolded as one would expect. Yes, my mother was livid when my Father confessed about a month later.

Finally, my most earnest and better prioritized Thanksgiving? 2011. Jon was recovering from a life threatening illness and I had recently had yet another heart attack.

Life had quickly become fragile. Nonetheless, we celebrated our union and found that, yes, we actually could afford a leg of lamb.

It is now four years later. Jon is much better but ridden with ailments of being almost 70. I’m still waiting for a heart. Henry is almost 13. He is your typically lazy tom but would even “turn pussy tricks” if it meant an entire turkey slice might fall to the floor. Since I am “projecting” with this post, we’ll just say He hopes that the turkey slice cascade to the floor. And that Claudja and Hermione are watching some football game.

We will share Thanksgiving with: my sister and her gentleman suitor, my niece Sara and her husband, my niece Sophie and her husband, and my niece Aubrey. My sister’s ex-husband, his wife, and young son will join us.

I will not try to understand the unfortunate inclusion of the latter nor will I let it interfere with the joyous part of the day. It may very well be the last time we are all together.

I am confidant to assume that we’ve each already endured a questionable, perhaps grossly dysfunctional Thanksgiving.

“Receive” will thus be Thursday’s Groucho Marxist “Word of the Day”. (К сожалению об этом.) I intend the word “receive” to invoke that 70’s and 80’s serendipitous suggestion for welcoming a positive karma.  We’re nonetheless surely due for a Cohen-esque Perfect Day.

And if not? Groovy. Bring it on, My Friend. Bring it on.

(Image: “The Small Village Torzhok” by Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov, 1917.)

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Do you, Jonathan Howard, Take Yours Truly?

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Days are often long, lonely, sweltering spans of time. Others pass with the wear of a moment. In the past few years, My beloved and I have yielded to both, fretting in fear and cowering in some intimate anticipation.

Our separate lives and the one we share will hopefully endure the bloodied sutures of this harrowing unfold of divine operations. I plan on it. Henry plans on it. Jon is an unrepentent skeptic and relies on my plans. I dare you to quote Mr Burns or Mr Murphy.

Now together for almost fourteen years, we have had quite a few candid discussions about marriage. Yes, beachside nuptials are an option for the two of us. But my generation has fought most often and harder for equal rights, not really marriage.

As it is, the topic is perfect for the occasional shared breakfast. We can obsess and brainstorm “ad infinitem” and then retreat to our upstairs/downstairs separate worlds. I can stretch out in my chair to ponder while Jon props up his legs and meditates with the hummingbirds.

Fourteen full years later, we are no closer to a decision. Perhaps you have advice, Gentle Reader. We must consider inheritance, rights of survivorship, and income taxes. We both worry about the other and his coping skills.

For me, it’s a triple wham of a notion. Southerner that I am, the whole process of finances are just not mentioned. We are both aging co-dependents who make acquiescence seem an artform. I am from an extremely liberal and Bohemian Catholic family. Jon grew up among mid-Western “Southern Baptist ” evangelical types.

Do we marry? Do we simply create indisputable legal documents? We both have sisters who’d likely not dispute anything whatsoever. I have, however, heard that declaration before and seen it throw a grieving mate into the inlaw fury from Hell.

So as this is Friday and “just a day”, please advise me. My mind’s eye debates in gray tones. Do Jon and I just ride out our dotage? Or do we create a magnificent moment?

The Fresh Producers: That’s My Watermelon

imageToday was such a perfect August day, one of Lou Reed perfection. At least I think so. It’s been many years since such a Marklewood Sunday peeked at us from the East. And then, upon a positive evaluation, the day opened its eyes from the squint.

My sister Polly and I had a good, old-fashioned “Shelling for Jesus” day.  We shelled two pounds of field peas, cooked them, and took note. We sautéed onions, added a package of my most favorite spicy sausage, and slowly combined the field peas.

You have absolutely no idea, Oh Gentle Reader and Generous Chef. All but a cupful fied into a hand-crafted turquoise tureen. There is a-plenty.

For the rest of the afternoon, we organized and prepped all the produce that easily filled two shelves: squash, honeydews, canteloups, peaches, berries. Polly sliced two watermelons into manageable pieces on which a melon freak might get a little crazy.

For my part, I made a simple scored-cucumber salad with vidalias and balsamic vinegar. My sister cooked ten ears of corn and then sliced the kernels right into some storage piece.

I sliced fresh jalapeños and stirred the slices into two cups of my favorite mayonaise. For those of you who do not live in the US, let me forewarn you. Southerners, if not consumers from all of the continental sbouncerstates, enjoy a rite of passage into culinary adulthood. Most folks seem to have lifelong selections for their “favorite” non-boutique mayonaise, ketchup, mustard, cola. In my case, a nosy guest might find Hellman’s, Heinz, Guldens, and Pepsi.

While there are many, many soft drinks with both many variations and fields of fans, I’m afraid that such a summit would never be a calm, civil display via Roberts Rules or behemoth bouncers.

I swear on the memories of Boar & Castle Drive In, years of transgression therapies have been unproductive. The best kitchen controls are high, broil, and anarchy-fueled domestic dictatorships.

By 5:30 pm, all the produce was washed, sliced, and bagged. Wherever appropriate foods were cooked, we secured the perfect size storage tureens.

We chatted, planned another such afternoon, and just passed away these suggestive dog days. No time had passed in the five years since we had a healthy interrupted visit.

I was so ready. I was so hungry. Eating healthily is its own revenge, eh Emily?

May your dreams tonight be as sweet as fresh Candor peaches!

Shalom. Bon apetit.

(Image: by Kevin Sloan.)

A Mother’s Worst Nightmare

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Adults can certainly appreciate those teenage twists that accentuate puberty … even when two such “seniors” are an overly-driven mother and an uncle who is always at stand-by to offer a morsel from advice’s coffer.

Such was the case when one of my nieces returned from her first session of sleep-away camp some seven or eight years ago. For the sake of family unity and preservation of future holidays, I shall not mention which exact niece. Although I will admit she is married now and living blissfully in Boston.

The thirteen-year old had been gone for three weeks and, upon entering her familiar and familial domain, rushed to her room crying. Not just crying, mind you. She was sobbing uncontrollably. My sister (said girl’s mother) ran after her, intent on determining the issue, assessing the situation, and restoring order.

“Oh mother! It’s simply awful! I feel so guilty, but I have to … “ She stopped short in fear of shocking and offending her mother. “I can’t tell you. You’ll be so disappointed in me.” Even with her mother’s reassuring prod, the girl was unable to confess the reality of her troubles.

Later that morning, my niece emerged from her room, again sobbing but seemingly with more control. “Mother, I just have to tell you. If I don’t, it will haunt me forever.” Her eyes were puffy, her face flushed with anxiety and apprehension. “Oh, I can’t. It’s simply that horrible!” She ran back to her room and locked the door behind her. Her bold tears echoed throughout the house.

This scenario repeated four or five times over the next few hours. Certainly my sister’s fears were building to a crescendo. Had my niece consumed the forbidden alcohol? Had she partaken of a destructive cigarette? Or, worse yet, smoked the fabled marijuana? (Something neither her mother nor uncle would ever have done, despite their having come of age in the increasingly “un-groovy” 1970’s.)

Had she given in to carnal curiosity and teenage lust? Of course, my sister’s greatest fear was that whatever troubled my young niece involved perhaps a combination of all, creating a most regrettable trifecta.

My sister herself lit a calming smoke, poured a glass of wine, and began contemplating her next step. How could she at once reassure the girl, restore order, and re-ravel the teenage bliss of innocence (that surely had fallen awry)?

Just as my sister lifted her wine glass, my niece timidly peaked through the door. “Mother, I have to tell you. I just have to. That’s the only way the pain will go away!” My sister took a full and calculating breath as the girl continued, still trembling but numbed from all the crying.

“Mother, I shaved my legs and I am so sorry!”

Herself reassured, my sister hugged her daughter tight, relieved that the girl was yet a child of pubescent virtue. Saddened that she was absent at such a passage’s rite, she was nonetheless relieved that, once again, her worst parental fears had been averted.

“Honey, I have a terrific moisturizer. Let’s go upstairs.”

An hour or so later, my sister phoned me: “Mark, you won’t believe the afternoon I just had!” I could hear her exhale, could tell she was smoking, and
anticipated a “Life’s Semi-Precious Moments” tale.

Naturally with three teenage daughters, such afternoons of torment and anxiety were soon to become more frequent for her. With the angst-ridden whimpers of a teenage girl, “camp” thus became another four-letter word to be dreaded.

(Image: “Midnight! or The Fashionable Apartment”, Georges Barbier, 1920.)

Holiday Raids, Regrets, and, Sadly, No Reynolds Wrap

Most_Disturbing_Manipulated_Images_Ever__5Barry had always flown the six continuous shuttle taxis between Albany and Springfield. The airborne noise had finally eked his compliance. His days of fighting someone else’s ever-so-veiled pointed banter, alas, have found closure. At age 51, Barry was tipping his pilot’s cap one last time. His anxieties as an underplayed carrier, after-midnight errand boy, and a mute, blind, and deaf witness were humming their swan song.

His restless days worrying about the endless many projects requiring signatures and initials on court bound papers were dwindling: Barry’s replacement, his roommate Nippy, was to begin at 8am Monday and by week’s end, he’d be in Antigua nursing premium Mai-Tais and gorging on Rock Point oysters and Bay lump crab meet. He’d be alone but, at age 51.

Nonetheless the week passed in a healing, rejuvenating atmosphere. Except for the curiosity that was quickly building over Miss Smoot-Steins assurance that she’d redeem the roundtrip weekend ticket he had left for her. Between “romps”, they were to fantasize about the many parts to their redemptive stance. Again postponed yearnings had been stirring in both Barry and Deana’s loins. A pungent and greasy unfulfillment cloaked Barry’s ode and attempts be cheerful. His “Finger Lake” resilience had melted.

Curious and “stood up”, and numbed Barry unlocked the door to the emptiness of Albany, his dusty pre-War flat, and his yet unnamed puss who was nearly five. He fed the puss and turned on the television to catch his favorite shows. He walked into the the kitchen, recalling all the goodies he’d had roasted before his departure. Deana wanted to box the hot oil sesame noodles and take them home.

She left shortly thereafter, forgetting some of the tightly boxed “to-go” goodies. Barry searched the icebox hoping to stumble upon a marinading head roast he had been hungry for all week long. There on the top shelf squeezed between the spring mustards and 2% milk was a platter with a human head resting upon its optical center. What a perfect Sunday treat for Barry and Nippy to share if not devour!

Barry had realized that the head was uncovered and unprotected, naked on a chipped yet colorful Meisen platter, which Barry unearthed only on holidays. Anger and fury seized and redirected the words he was spewing: “Damnation. Let’s just go to Dairy Queen, Crackle Barrel, or even Denny’s. I’ll leave the tray outside. Perhaps the cats, dogs, coyotes, and raccoons will find satisfaction in the unexpected feast.

Nippy and Barry arrived home just after 10pm, unable to sip tea, inhale some amyl nitrate, or even slowly savor ons genteel and dainty peppermint truffle.

The outdoor brood, however, was still on the front lawn … nibbleless and still well-groomed from Barry’s attention that morning, Barry was facing another sad cranial roast, perhaps his last.

Nippy reached into the 50lb bag of Royal Canine food … healthy, easy to digest, and a rare opportunity to feel appointed, anointed, and sprung from the “jointed!” He dished a huge, if not “Pelican State” helping into their bow.

Barry quietly stormed inside — SLAMMING and bolting the door. (I readied for bed where I’d pray to the muse of syntax and spelling and nibble some Lorna Doones.)

The Trio Blooms and Thrives

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Time does march rather swiftly, flailing poised hands and cocked arms. So it seems with my three nieces who, now young women, like all were once infants! At 16, 18, and 20, they assert their independence and maturity. I, for one, readily resist such revelation, with both amusing and dear nostalgia:

1. Sara, age 3, blurts out in puzzlement: “Uncle George?” (her name for the anti-Christ), when she sees Franklin’s image on a $5 bill, noting similarity of a baldness issues.
2. Sophie, age 2, darts down a Fort Lauderdale beach “nekkid” … with me in custodial pursuit, as I was baby-sitting. She laughed uproariously as she just knew how reserved and mortified I was.
3. Sara, age 6, orders a Caesar salad and a wedge of brie, startling the waiter (especially knowing that Sara’s parents and I ordered burgers!)
4. Sophie, age 10, takes the hand of an angry, dying man (in the midst of a tirade) and offers: “let’s go take a walk in the garden”. He immediately calms as all the adults present are still fumbling and terrified.
5. Sophie, age 10, points out sarcastically while the two of us are (ten minutes in) at a Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan movie: “this is so predictable. They always end up together in their movies!”
6. Aubrey, age 6, squeals in delight, when served a sorbet between meal courses at a rather formal and serious feast: “I just love an intermezzo!” Hushed and dropped jaws were in tandem.
7. Sara, age 10, at that same dinner, in response then replies: “intermezzo, i-n-t-e-r-m-e-z-z-o, intermezzo!” Further jaws dropped.
8. Aubrey & Sophie, ages 7 and 9, start a school-wide trend (at their Jewish day School, B’nai Shalom) of wearing shorts and boots in the winter, citing Uncle Mark as their precedent. Said uncle received direct admonishment from school administration.
9. Aubrey, age 7, while spending the day with her uncle at work, inquires of one of his clients: “will that be a charge, ma’am?” I was otherwise engaged wrapping a crystal lamp.
10. Aubrey, age 8, after watching an episode of HBO’s “The Sopranos” (it was disallowed, but available for Aubrey’s viewing in her room) telephones, yes, the very same uncle, inquiring about oral sex, the theme of that particular episode. She apologized but made it clear that it was Mommy’s idea that she call. (Note: I did finally weasel out of that scrape, but only narrowly.)

But alas! These are only snippets of remembrances that continue to diminish and grow further distant. Sara, Sophie, and Aubrey continue to provide joy and amusement … through their kindness, generosity of spirit, and quick wit. All three are now in their twenties and have neither use nor time for us mid-century types.

Tales are for telling and they will soon enough have theirs! Perhaps, they will chronicle their uncle’s dotage.

(Image: “Short Order Cook” by Rudy Fig, 2010.)

Train of Thought

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1992 was undoubtedly the year that thrust the most change into my unsuspecting arms, forcing me to react in a series of knee-jerks and whimpers. Coach Leathergoods had dissolved my division with only a few days’ notice. The anti-Christ had finally crushed any foolish glimmer of reconciliation and we, to the relief of all of our friends, opted to “opt out”. And I took my meager severance package, packed several leather suitcases with clothing for all occasions, weather conditions, and sudden twists in fashion, and headed to Fort Lauderdale.

I’d like to say that I chose my destination in search of excitement, adventure, and to determine if the “boys really were there” but, years later, I can freely admit: my sister and her family lived there and I just needed to regroup and chill for an unspecified period. My nieces were one and three at the time (the third was yet born) and Polly and I both felt that the change and the vitality of such youth might just rejuvenate my lost spirit.

Although I do detest flying, I decided to take the train to give me ample time to meditate, and harness my intense emotionality. I wasn’t devastated by any means although my life seemed a-shambles. One month earlier, I had been traveling all over the country for work, supervising new store openings. I was fixing elaborate dinners six nights a week and usually hosting some creative, meticulous, and themed dinner party on the seventh. And I spent my free time cultivating gardens or exploring my next home improvement project at our home in Washington. However when I boarded the Southern Crescent on that balmy August night, all of that had disappeared from my reach. I was some clean-shaven yuppie hobo wearing Girbaud jeans, a Tag-Hauer chronograph, and round leather glasses. My world had imploded but at least I had a ticket.

I spent the first three hours of the trip in the club car which was fortunately deserted. Walkman firmly in place, I attempted various New York Times crossword puzzles while trying to prevent my cocktail from vibrating off the table. Instead, I soon found myself chain-smoking, imbibing rather enthusiastically, and finding some obscure element of sorrow in every song. When the Moody Blues’ “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” played, my reserve collapsed … and I simply started sobbing. That midnight drama, of course, scared the young couple on the other end of the club car right back to their assigned seats, leaving me completely alone to wallow in my “issues”.

Fifteen minutes later, I was re-composed and thumbing through my trusty book of crosswords when a young conductor came in and sat at the table next to mine. He was, as we say in the South, “hot as a biscuit”. He was swarthy, a few years younger than me, and obviously feeling chatty. Before I finished that cocktail, we had exchanged our nutshell bios and were actually engaged in meaningful conversation. Naturally, I amended some of the details of my life to make them more generic and mainstream. I discreetly alluded to the break-up, suggesting that it might’ve been with a woman, carefully avoiding certain details. We talked for a few hours and I eventually went to my cabin, which at its broadest, seemed a full foot shorter than I was tall.

I awakened the next morning, stiff and aching from the fetal position, made both mandatory by my quarter’s logistics as well as oddly comforting by my emotional duress. I readied myself for the day, my arrival in Fort Lauderdale, and the outpour of familial questions. By noon, I was bolstered with coffee and somewhat alert when I encountered the young conductor from the night before. We chatted for a few minutes when he was summoned to the clock. He politely said good-bye, wished me well, and said (if circumstances were different), he would want to invite me to dinner, as he was going to be in town for a few days for a holiday layover. He knew that it was presumptuous to mention it and that I obviously wasn’t gay, but that he did enjoy our connection. Flattered and caught off guard, I simply had to let that one go. The Universe seemed far too complicated to offer any explanation and to accept his invitation. But, yes, he was that hot and er uh fetching!

The Southern Crescent pulled into the Broward County Amtrak station just past one that afternoon. The non-descript brick box looked more like a carport with a small ticket office: a most inauspicious of inaugural sites for my visit. My sister, her husband, and little Sara and Sophie gathered around me and, for a short time, I completely forgot about the anti-Christ.

Scott suggested we take the long way home so I could see the newly-renovated beachfront and certain city highlights. I doubt I heard much of what anyone really said though. I just stared out the window, reflecting on the previous two days and the sudden turn of events. There I was in a new town, unemployed, single again, and left with only those memories I could stuff into my luggage. I abandoned all of my expectations in Washington. I stuffed any hope that I still mustered into a locker at Union Station.

Yet, I was still willing to give life another chance. I casually threw the dice into the air and when they finally hit the Florida dirt, life was rather different. I was the manager of a large art gallery, quite accustomed to wearing shorts everyday, and deeply involved with an Icelandic college student. My third niece Aubrey was born. Life was different for me than it had ever been, neither happier nor better … just not what I had ever envisioned.

Little did I then know that I would run into that young train conductor again that following June. I guess even the Fates have their “train sets”, enjoying the mischief, irony, and the unexpected. And if I am truly their acquiescent pawn, I thank them for the resilience … and my view from the caboose.

(Image: “Train Trip II” by MistakePS, DeviantART.)

Michael’s Last L’Chaim

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A dozen years and a million dreams ago, to the week, my oldest niece celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in grand style. Three hundred guests gathered on the roof of a skyline landmark for an elegant sit-down dinner, copious libations, and dancing until the wee hours. For Sara, it became a memorable send-off to an adulthood of promise and hope. For my partner Michael, however, the evening was his last such affair, if not his last ”night out”.

Many of you now know of Michael’s illness. His disease ultimately robbed him of all cognition and ability, before he eventually succumbed. His doctors had prepared me that his condition could change dramatically one day from the next, and to always be prepared for the worst.

As he dressed for the evening that Saturday, he no longer could shave himself, chat on the phone, or remember most of his friends and family. He could neither maneuver the studs for his shirt, nor secure his cummerbund. He was, however, still able to drive. Just past seven, we were “en route” downtown with Michael at the helm … as I gazed out the passenger window.

The venue filled quickly. Two friends met us there so they could help me steer Michael away from any awkward moments, such as those when trapped in ”cocktail repartee” with a stranger. Although he could to a degree still talk, he had lost over 95% of his vocabulary; didn’t always comprehend the most basic of subject; and was given to occasional inappropriateness. We were successfully able to guide the conversations, so that Michael never got angry, frustrated, or felt unnecessarily self-conscious. He savored the two dirty Bombay martinis that night, but I’m not so certain that he still had the taste for them.

When it came time to be seated for dinner, the four of us were joined at a large round table with a half dozen people that knew us, and were well-apprised of the sensitive issue at hand. While everyone anticipated the lavish six course feast, Michael looked up at the stars. At each place, was a silk butterfly, handcrafted by an Israeli artist.

One by one, however, everyone at our table got up and leaned over to Michael at help him feel included and at ease, asking simple ”yes or no” questions, and rubbing his back. When the main course arrived, Michael beamed when he saw rare lamb chops, as that was his favorite. I nonchalantly  cut the meat for him, since he wasn’t dextrous enough to manage a knife … but he was thrilled nonetheless. After dinner, as our waiter took our orders for cognacs and coffee, Michael just played with his butterfly, managing to secure it to his lapel. By the time the dancing started, everyone at our table had given him their butterfly keepsake.

Since Michael had lost any interest in dancing or music, we took turns sitting with him, while the rest of us danced and gathered for toasts. When it finally came time to head home, he had accumulated a pile of butterflies, as word had gotten out and everyone wanted to make the evening as special for him, as it was for my niece.

As we got into the car, I put a basket of at least a hundred winged, gossamer mementos in the back seat, rolling down my window to take in the brisk May night air. Michael tapped my shoulder and proudly said: ”fun!” When he could indeed articulate, he rarely spoke in full sentences anymore. But we were both happy and content, and I was relieved.

The next morning, I got up at five: my only private time was whatever time I could steal before he awakened. Michael got up after eight, having slept soundly, I’m sure from all the excitement and activity of the previous night. He stumbled into the office, leaning over to kiss me on my forehead. He didn’t say anything as I took his hand and led him into the kitchen to prepare his breakfast and give him his morning medications.

On the island was the basket of butterflies. He pointed to them and looked at me puzzled and befuddled, unaware of their meaning or origin. Moreover, my heart fell to the tile floor as I realized that he had lost whatever remaining verbal skills he had.

I wanted to sob, but couldn’t … not even allowing the swell of such a tear. I fixed Michael pancakes, smothered in butter and ginger syrup, and went back to our bedroom. I knew that he now could no longer drive, so I went to locate his car keys and secure them. After he finished eating, I sat with him on the porch and took a deep, focused breath. I then had to tell Michael about the driving, afraid of an angry outburst, one that might overpower me. But when I was finished, he patted me on the head and kissed my cheek, nodding in agreement. I don’t think he fully understood but he knew to trust me.

I put the butterflies away as I did with almost everything that created confusion or feelings of inadequacy, loss, or frustration. Another obstacle was just ahead, as I’d need to  let his mother, who had yet to accept Michael’s illness, know of the latest developments.

As I had feared, the Bat Mitzvah was a turning point in his degeneration. We never again went out at night or, for that matter, much during the daytime. His health declined rapidly over the summer, with his body finally giving out in October.

Tonight, I came across one silk butterfly as I rummaged through my desk in search of an old document. I smiled as I vividly remembered Michael’s touching memorial service and how a few days later I drove Michael’s car out to the cemetery and scattered the remaining silk butterflies over his grave.

I closed my desk drawer and went outside, sat on the front stoop, and sobbed into the brisk June night air. One of the cat angels confided in me  and shared a secret of the Universe. Michael’s soul is soaring and en route to some grand angelic cotillion.

(Image: ‘The Jeweled Lady” by René Magritte, 1947.)