Remembrances of Jon

Standard

Jon

I spent an afternoon with Jan reminiscing about Jon in preparation for his upcoming 10th anniversary memorial. We found pictures of his life with Jan and later, Dana. We shared remembrances of Jon and Jan when they lived in New Haven, where they met. And of Santa Barbara when Dana was born. Of their life together in Rockville. I left feeling like I had been in his presence all day.

Its probably a cliché, but I really felt it was an honor to know Jon. His soft voice and sharp wit, the cleverness of his mind, his enthusiasm and support of everyone. The twinkle in his eye when he smiled. He was a mench. In these writings, Jon’s voice is crystal clear. The depth of love for his son, brother, and wife are also evident. They moved me to tears as I typed them. I hope this selection will inspire your own memories of Jon.

— Renee

                                                                                                                       

 

Who is Acki Juster? Acki Juster is champion of the world.

Ack, remember when we were little, we shared a queen sized be in the small upstairs bedroom. At bedtime, before we fell asleep, we’d lie on our backs with our legs bent, knees up. Our knees were mountaintops and we jumped from knee to knee with our fingers, running from the monsters and the bad guys. And then here came Acki Juster. Acki Juster to the rescue. He saved us. He beat up the bad guys. He beat up the monsters. Who is Acki Juster? Acki Juster is champion of the world.

Acki Juster is Arthur Rosenberg. Arthur Rosenberg is champion of the world. My perfect brother.

December, 2003


 

Jan –

I went out to MacDonald’s on account of I had this terribull craving to be American and MacDonald’s is so American and stable & all. America is where its at. My whole problem is that I’m about 2 weeks ahead of my time. Don’t forget to write.

Jon

P.S. I’m making Saturn. Don’t forget to make the rings.

Sun March 18, 1973

                                                                                                                       

Scan 8

New Haven

I like to think about New Haven in the 60’s. I like to think about us in New Haven, about Olive St. and Pine St. and York and Chapel Streets. We were so happy. We never had more than a few dollars in our pockets, but we had the music and bell bottom jeans, the embroidered dungaree jackets and the beads, and all the people, just like us, thinking the same thoughts, listening to the same music. I don’t remember what year it was. I don’t even remember what season it was. We weren’t wearing coats, so I think it was early fall, a mild fall evening. We were out walking the streets of New Haven, Easy Rider had just opened at the Whitneyville theater in Hamden. I had parked my blue, 2-door Chevy Belaire on some side street, High Street maybe, and there was plenty of time to get to the movie, the theater being only 15 minutes away. We had a couple bucks worth of gas in the car, but no money to buy theatre tickets. This was not an insurmountable problem. Sure, we didn’t have any money, but we did have the streets of New Haven, and people just like us, walking the streets of New Haven, who knew about Easy Rider and not having enough money in your pockets. And so, while you waited on the street corner, I panhandled. There was no shame, no shame in not having any money, and certainly no shame in trying to get a few bucks to see Easy Rider, a worthy endeavor. “Got any change? Got a quarter? A dime? Anything? Anything at all? We want to see Easy Rider.” And they gave. They gave because they were people just like us. We had enough money in no time. We got in my car and went to see the movie. I think we even had enough left over for popcorn. And we sat and watched that movie about people just like us, me leaning against you, and you leaning against me. I think about how beautiful you were. A perfect 60’s girl. Long brown hair running absolutely straight down your back, past your waist. Your brown eyes were big as headlights. I swear you had the biggest eyes in the world. You had perfect lips, perfectly high cheekbones, and a perfect nose. Waves were nothing more than the ocean coming inland, trying to get a better look at you. We were so happy. I was so happy.

A number of years later, in Santa Barbara, I remember Dana, during the first six months of his life, oftentimes being mistaken for a girl. He was that beautiful. I want him to know it was because his mother was that beautiful.

December, 2003

Scan 9

                                                                                                                       

 

What I want to happen after I die –

  • I want my mother’s tears to turn into memories of past laughter.
  • I want my wife’s past beauty to light her future.
  • I want my son and his mother to always be as polite to each other as perfect strangers meeting for the first time.
  • I want my son to have at least 100 years of health and happiness with his beautiful wife plus the 20 years of additional heartbeats that I didn’t have.
  • I want my brother to have love and comfort and company every day of his long, long life.
  • I want my son and my brother and my mother and my wife to talk to each other at least once a month and never forget one another’s birthdays.
  • Mildred – March 1, 1919
  • Dana – June 6, 1974
  • Arthur – July 26, 1950
  • Jan – November 5, 1949
  • Ack, I would like you to say Kaddish for me eighteen times, and eighteen times only. You don’t have to say it on consecutive days. Just eighteen times. I mean it. If you want to say Kaddish for me when its Yizkor and at the anniversary of my death, that would be okay. But only if you can.
  • D-, I would like you to say Kaddish with my brother just once, one time only.
  • I would like all of you to give me one thought, only 10 seconds long, on my birthday, February, 28, 1958.
  • If all of these things happen, I will be so happy. I will be so happy.

December, 2003

 

“I thought it would be an eloquent mad dash from life to death. The gun would go off – boom! I would leave the finish point of life and head to the starting point of death. What happened to me was a false start! I am in a transition now stumbling towards death.”

Jon spoke these words to this effect to his hospice nurse, SN, who wrote them down for us.

Scan 5

The Book of So-Called Poems

Standard

Welcome to the Langton-Kendrick-Rothman Archives Project which I have just instituted. I invite you all to contribute.

To begin, here’s what I wrote last August (2013) after cleaning out the attic at 12 Carol Drive:

“The past month has been a step out of ordinary time, a twilight zone in which time traveled in all directions at once. We traveled backward through our ancestry by way of letters—hundreds of them, as well as newspaper articles, old clothing, jewelry, poetry, and drawing. Each time we peeked into another closet or drawer or box, we discovered a new layer to our story. We found things we’d thought long gone and things we never imagined we possessed. An essay about race written by my mother, Patricia Kendrick, while she was in high school in New Hampshire. Essays she wrote when she took a writing course in the 70s shortly before her death. Artwork and art exercises that my father and trained draftsman, Conrad Rothman, passed on to his kids around the kitchen table. And lots and lots of old art supplies: oils, watercolor, pastel chalks and paper of all variety. Our responses to these delights ranged from astonishment to bafflement to curiosity and resulted in tears and laughter.

Together these artifacts tell the story of one family, my family over the course of more than 60 years. What a unique opportunity we have been given. I can’t wait to dig in to those letters…”

And so I begin with a simple book of poetry.

The Book of So-Called Poems

Upon my grandmother Lorna’s passing in 1970, my mother, Pat, received a 6”x9” black notebook with the following inscription taped to the cover:

This Book of So-Called Poems is for Pat.

Dear Pat—

Better set aside a day or a night to peruse this stuff. It will take that long. I know, I did it. Whew! What a mess!

Love and kisses — wish I could join you. Ha! Ha!

Mom

sc001ee77c

Lorna Langton Kendrick

 

 

sc020532df

 

 

 

 

The book contained sheet after sheet of handwritten poems, prayers and other scribblings as well as church programs and newspaper clips of published poems. Most of them were written by Lorna but there are also a few written by her parents and other family members. One, called “Thrice Blessed” appears to have been written by Lorna’s son Steve. It was from this notebook that Pat and Connie, my father, selected the poems for their 1975 publication, Lorna, a small-format printed book.sc0205af4d

 

The pale blue cardboard box that held the Book of So-Called Poems, held other treasures, some of surprising origins others begging for further investigation. Names are mentioned that I cannot place—who is Alice Langton and what tragedy befell her? Or Leonard Young whose poem “The Angel of Death” was a memorial to one Margaret Young (mother? sister?). There are a lot of heavy hearts in those poems.

Also New England sarcasm. Here is a short poem written by my wisecracking uncle, Steve, possibly as a teenager, though the sharp wit he displays here was alive and well in him ‘til the day he died…and then some. Pat’s handwriting, scratched in below Steve’s, seems very early and is written in capital letters:

 

Dear Mother,

Remember the “Alamo”

Remember the “Maine”

Remember “Pearl Harbor”

Remember the “Shirt” I’ve got to have to wear to work in the morning.

Love, Steve

My dress too

Pat

 sc02050b61_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lorna wrote one of these poetic memos to her son, Fred, and his wife concerning their primitive “facilities.” I won’t reprint that one for the sake of the remaining family. I also remember my mother writing one and taping it to the mirror over the bathroom sink. I only remember the last line: The bathroom sink is full of hair.

 

Next posts: Bequeathments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Episode

Standard

Dearest Family and Friends;

This is long overdue. Jan moved to Boulder Creek last Thanksgiving. It was chaos. We had to buy a car, furniture, every conceivable household supply from cleaning products to pots and pans and coffee makers. The moving company was as late as they possible could have been and still pled for more time. Tensions escalated. Especially as every crisis after crisis tumbled in our way like dominoes.

Before cabinets

Before cabinets

IMG_2681

move in

move in

Condo:

Naturally, when Shelley was here to help with the move, we had a cold snap. Record frost. That’s how we discovered that there was No heat and No hot water. Then a parade of repair men fixing the broken refridge, lighting fixtures, plumbing…I lost count. The broken oven was its own disaster:

Oven Story: Dana and Kelly were in town and Jan invited us to join them for her first big dinner at the condo. She made her specialty: brisket. This notorious cut of meat has driven many a cook to order Chinese. But Jan—like her father—had the magic touch. Unfortunately, two things conspired against her that day: a bad cut of meat and an oven that only reached about 250 degrees. Jan hadn’t used the oven since she moved in and had no way of knowing that it was busted. Anyway, five+ hours later and even the potatoes were still raw, we called for pizza. Jan was mortified and frustrated so we did our best to laugh at it (it is actually kind of funny in a Woody Allen sort of way). And after dinner, in the middle of some small talk, Dana chips in as nonchalant as can be, “We’re getting married.” So that cheered us all up. Plus Jan cooked that piece of meat into mercy and used it in a stew that fed her for a month.

 

Leather couch at store

Leather couch at store

Frost in condo backyard

Frost in condo backyard

New Livingroom

New Livingroom

New Kitchen

New Kitchen

The Slow Demise of the House of Rothman

Even after all the renovations and repairs on 12 Carol properties, the house revealed more cracks. It began to feel like the slow Fall of the House Rothman, a house collapsing in on itself. All that stuff we removed—the attic filled to the rafters with 60 years of stuff, the glue and grit we removed from surfaces—evidently that stuff was holding up the walls! In addition to frozen and bursting pipes from one of the coldest winters on record, someone broke in and stole Jan’s vinyl collection: thousands of LPs and rare 45s.

In spite of it all, Jan is happy to finally be living in California, a long-time dream of hers. But fate seems to be unkind.  I had just finished recording a short interview with Jan in which she expressed her happiness (couldn’t upload for some reason), when she got an urgent call from Dana: the furnace at 12 Carol had expired and could not be coaxed back to life. A devastating financial blow…and a great personal sadness for Jan. A home is a reflection of ones-self even if we are unconscious of it. Its how we order our world. 12 Carol Drive was her home and she always took pride in its history, its social life, its functionality and its aesthetic. (Now Dana, don’t you laugh at that. Jan has the aesthetic of an historian who collects and displays objects that might stimulate a conversation—it’s social that way). Anyway, for months and months on end, Jan cleaned that house, fixed it, painted it; shed blood, sweat, and tears. She wanted it to be beautiful for the next owners. So this one last disaster, happening so near the closing on the house, disappointed Jan.

But then there was the wedding. Dana’s and Kelly’s of course. Jan was determined to surprise everyone with a new wardrobe, haircut, make-up…the works. We went to hairdressers, shoe stores, we shopped and shopped until neither of us ever wanted to shop again. But she has a whole new look. Out with all the oversized pants and baggy t-shirts; in with stylish yoga pants and slimming jersey tops. One afternoon before the wedding, Jan tried on all her outfits while Tami and I critiqued each one and helped her decide on jewelry (girly fun that all enjoyed engaging in). Finally, the long-weekend wedding celebrations arrived. But that’s not my story to tell.

In an effort to jumpstart a social life for Jan, I introduced her to my musical connections (that I have by way of my dance connections) and it took no time at all for her to become involved in the local and vibrant ukulele scene. On Saturday mornings, she drives down to the Harbor (where she has a season parking pass) and joins a hundred other devotees for a ukulele hoedown. I gotta say, it’s a pretty cool thing and I’m glad Jan dragged me along on her first trip down. In addition, we’ve been to a bellydance festival, a big board surf contest, a Japanese festival with aikido and taiko drumming, and a Mardi Gras hullabaloo…and its only April.

At Rakkasah

At Rakkasah

Mardi Gras party

Mardi Gras party

On bluff over the bay

On bluff over the bay

It took a while for me to recover from the liminal period of being half in the Wild West and half Back East. Today I finally feel like my feet are fully back on California soil. The calla lilies are in bloom along with a proliferation of bright, orange California poppies, and both wild and domestic irises. And I’m happy to be home.

p.s. The sale of 12 Carol Drive closed last week.

 

 

The Kitchen in the House at Carol Drive

Standard
12 Carol Drive

12 Carol Drive

As in many American homes, the kitchen at 12 Carol Drive was at the center of our emotional lives. Ours was multi-functional and inspired, feeding not just the body but the soul and mind as well. I want to tell you a story of love, passion, learning, and play. These were to be experienced in our kitchen.

Grammar school pictures

Grammar school pictures

When we were youngsters, the kitchen served as an art studio where my father taught us the fundamentals of drawing, color, design; where we crafted school projects out of paper maché, plaster of Paris, pastel crayons, and toilet paper tubes; where we made Christmas gifts out of macaroni, Elmer’s glue and spray paint. It was a music studio where my mother and father practiced singing and violin, respectively. It became a dance studio when my father built a ballet barre along one wall so I could practice my plies (later, it became a towel rack).

It was a card and game club where we played Old Maid, poker, pinochle, Monopoly, and later Hearts and Spoons (which the Jan and friends are still playing…and I think it’s the same kitchen table). In our teens, we carried on elevated “rap sessions,” discussed world theory, argued—loudly, passionately but not angrily—about everything with whoever stopped by. Pity the sorry Born-again Christian who came’a knocking asking religious questions: “Do you believe that Christ is Born again?” “Why yes, yes we do. Won’t you come in.” They couldn’t wait to leave. After I left home, I realized that my idea of a party was to drink coffee and argue or play cards. Still do, actually.

Old Maid deck from my childhood

Old Maid deck from my childhood

I heard the wisdom of many kinds of people who came to visit Carol Drive, from university professors to former prostitutes. But talking with my mother in the kitchen allowed me to discover some of her inner life, especially her pain. It still breaks my heart when I think of those conversations. She told me once that she had to learn how to smile; that she was unhappy for 15 years…for me—then only 15 myself—that was a whole lifetime. Sadly, I could already empathize.

Sometimes we even ate in the kitchen. Mom was only an average cook and, judging by the crashing of pots and pans when she was preparing summer, seemed to have hated it. I still cringe at the sound of pots crashing together. Clearly, I learned my discomfort with cooking from her, something I’ve worked hard at overcoming. My siblings will remember the now infamous week of my cooking when we were teens. Our folks devised a schedule in which we rotated chores: one week of dishes, one week of mopping, one week of laundry, and one week of cooking.

Well, when my turn came to cook, I decided to expand our menu choices and searched for some fresh recipes—without Internet, mind you. If I remember correctly, I wanted ethnic dishes—an early sign of my inner anthropologist. Ah yes, who could forget the Hawaiian dish of bananas wrapped with bacon and cooked with pineapple. I recall not letting anyone into the kitchen to see the casserole because those bananas looked so vulgar I couldn’t stop laughing. But to this very day, I am remembered most for my chickpea casserole—remember, this is the mid-60s, the meat-and-potatoes era when such vegetarian oddities were extremely rare. It would probably be quite delicious today. Back then, however, it went into the outside garbage bin and we went out for pizza. So, go ahead, just say “chickpea casserole” to Jan, Craig, or Shelley and they will scream with laughter.

Our family dinners were often fraught with tension as we got scolded for something or other, sent to our rooms without dinner, or worse, forced to sit for hours until we ate our creamed-chipped beef on mashed potatoes, even if its cold. Argh! In short, a typical mid-century, middle-class suppertime in New England. On many Saturday (or was it Sunday?) afternoons, Grandma Rita and Grandpa Mike came to visit with bags of the best, fresh baked, assorted rolls you ever had. I wish I knew where they came from—maybe Crown Market, a kosher shop right near their home in West Hartford. We all came running into the kitchen, immediately choosing one (the poppy seed horns were popular with us kids), shmeer it generously with salted or unsalted butter, or maybe even schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) and devour at will. Now that is a good food memory.

Of course, Mom’s real specialty was pie: pumpkin, apple, lemon or pumpkin chiffon. And need I mention that their coffee pot was never empty? No need to if you’ve ever been to that kitchen. And do you know that the coffee is still running there today (though only for a few more weeks). Pie and coffee still says home to me. As do Dad’s specialties, most of them Jewish comfort foods: bananas and sour cream, fried matzo, matzo pancakes, and poor man’s blintzes.

Poor Man’s Blintzes

Ingredients:

Saltine crackers

Room-softened cream cheese

Beaten eggs with milk

Assemble:

Break one square saltine into two pieces (back then they came in scored squares). Spread some cream cheese on one rectangle of saltine and top with the other rectangle. Dip in egg mixture to cover both sides and fry. Serve with a generous sprinkle of sugar. Eat.

Art from Baha'i Youth Conference in the Sixties

Art from Baha’i Youth Conference in the Sixties

Once our home became a center of Bahá’i’ activities in central Connecticut and the New England region, it became a landmark stop for any Bahá’i passing between Massachusetts and the New York area. There was a delightful tradition of “dropping by” in those days. Rarely did anyone call ahead; they just dropped by assured at least of a cup of coffee and some lively conversation. If they came at dinnertime, we made more spaghetti. But many, many people came as guests for Bahá’i “Firesides”—an open event that usually features a special speaker, followed by formal discussion, followed by coffee, cookies, and more arguing. They became somewhat legendary and many Connecticut Bahá’i’s will be attending the final party at 12 Carol Drive this Sunday. Its a chance to say thank you and farewell to the house—especially the kitchen—and to the Rothmans who gave it such a unique spirit. For all our frailty, foolishness, and faults, we Rothmans can be proud of that. To create such rich and enduring ties is a rare achievement and we will all be lucky to ever find the likes of it again.

Melissa, Jan, Rose, Renee, Shelley

Melissa, Jan, Rose, Renee, Shelley

Over the last 30-something years, 12 Carol Drive and its spirit were kept alive by Jan, Jon, and Dana. As always, this was where Dana’s friends came to play or hangout and where Jan and Jon greeted many visitors with generosity and laughter and coffee. It is where Jonathan spent his last days. Where Jan developed a new set of friends in that same spirit of compassion and acceptance.

Jan, Rose, and Marlene

Jan, Rose, and Marlene

I had the great good fortune of meeting Rose, Marlene, and Melissa whose little neighborhood society is at its end. These are such bittersweet days. Because Jan is moving to California and 12 Carol Drive is for sale. I think whoever buys it should be given this caveat:

Beware! People of all ages and races may knock on your door looking for the Rothmans. Introduce yourself and invite them in for coffee.

Sunset from Carol Drive

Sunset from Carol Drive

Episodes Seven & Eight: Remnants and Return

Standard

Episode Seven: Remnants of stories untold

We saved the final week for visiting and trying to get the house into a liveable shape. Jan and I took a drive down to Essex to visit Hope and Charlie again. After a light lunch and lots of sarcasm, we packed up the car with boxes of my stuff that have been in their attic for 20 years. More things to sort through.

P1060371

Allen singing at a BBQ at Shelley’s a few years back

On Saturday, we drove down to Hamden to visit our cousins Arden and Allen Schwartz. Of all the people and places I wanted to see, this was the single most important visit. They are our last link to my father’s side of the family and Arden is our genealogist. Lets see…Arden is the daughter of the brother of my grandmother, Rita. We always talk about two things: the family and guitars. Well, Jan and Allen talk guitars, them both being musicians. Allen, in case you didn’t know it, is the man who killed vaudeville (or so he kept insisting with his wise-cracking smile). We brought lakshen kugel, a Jewish casserole which we feasted on with our coffee.

On our return trip, we stopped to visit the Rosenberg gravesites. I regret not having been here for Jon’s funeral services and was glad to be able to remember him again. And happily, in some of our attic discoveries we found the most wonderful prose pieces written by Jon during his illness. We wept as we shared one about his love for his brother, Arthur. Jon was, among other things, a great wit and a clever artist. One of these days, we may have to publish some of his work.

Teddy came up Sunday afternoon to visit again. We continued sorting and packing until Sunday night when fatigue and an early morning departure drove me to my bed in the camper.

Episode Eight: Return From the Field

On the way to Bradley Airport with Shelley and Jan, I felt a big-ass panic attack rising. Actually, I had waken with migraines the last couple mornings and suffered severe nausea that morning. As I felt the blood leaving my face and my tongue going tingly, I said, OK, we are going to play a game, and I began: “A” my name is Alice, my husband’s name is Al, we come from Alaska and we sell Apples. Shelley picked up on “B” then passed “C” on to Jan. Back to me. Jan had to concentrate on the traffic so Shelley and I kept it up. Shelley’s “we sell…” answers struck me as hilarious. We fell into extreme fits of laughter, especially after we invented new categories for the old jump-rope song: my pet’s name is…; I’m really good at…; and I play/sing/dance… The sillier we got, the better I felt. What a healing thing laughter is. Still, I cried big fat tears when I hugged Shelley and Jan one last time.

IMG_2370

I’m home in California now slowly adjusting to this climate, this routine.

But I don’t really feel like I’ve been away from home since I’ve been in the Connecticut family home. I miss Jan’s circle of friends and all the old friends that can happen by for a visit. If I were in CT right now, 12:46 eastern time, I might be taking a coffee break with Rose, Marlene, Melissa or Jan or all of them. We’d be in the back yard under the canopy. The Golden Girls theme music would come around every half-hour from the TV Jan has set up for outdoor viewing. We’d be talking about nothing or encouraging Jan as she makes this great move across the country. I’d be learning more about them, their lives, how they came together, how they invented their smoking rituals, or stories of other events that took place under the canopy. They don’t know it, but they are an extraordinary bunch of women living ordinary lives. I came to love each of them in our short month together. I miss them. And I envy them.

The past month has been a step out of ordinary time, a twilight zone in which time traveled in all directions at once. We traveled backward through our ancestry by way of letters—hundreds of them, as well as newspaper articles, old clothing, jewelry, poetry, and drawing. Each time we peeked into another closet or drawer or box, we discovered a new layer to our story. We found things we’d thought long gone and things we never imagined we possessed. An essay about race written by my mother, Patricia Kendrick, while she was in high school in New Hampshire. Essays she wrote when she took a writing course in the 70s shortly before her death. Artwork and art exercises that my father and trained draftsman, Conrad Rothman, passed on to his kids around the kitchen table. And lots and lots of old art supplies: oils, watercolor, pastel chalks and paper of all variety. Our responses to these delights ranged from astonishment to bafflement to curiosity and resulted in tears and laughter.

Together these artifacts tell the story of one family, my family over the course of more than 60 years. What a unique opportunity we have been given. I can’t wait to dig in to those letters.

 

Episode Six: The Big Work Weekend

Standard

[note: I simply could not fit writing time in once this weekend began. I was either working or sleeping. I’ll try to get you up-to-date.]

Craig arrived from Chicago on Wed afternoon after settling his youngest, Maya, into her dorm for her first week of college (Bowling Green, Ohio). The night of his arrival seems so long ago I don’t even remember it. Dana and Kelly arrived early the next morning. Arthur, Dana’s uncle, showed up shortly thereafter and, after all the greeting and meeting was finished, we set to the work.

Dana, Kelly, Jan, Craig, Shelley, Bud, Tom (a high school friend of Dana’s), and I worked all morning packing, painting, and panting. The thick New England humidity arrived in force just in time for the big weekend push. Even so, Craig, Dana and Arthur made short work of emptying the contents of Jan’s attic onto the front lawn. Jan, Shelley, and I frantically tried to sort it but just when we thought we were gaining on it, the guys found fresh corners to empty.

IMG_2315 IMG_2312 IMG_2323

 

 

 

 

 

Our meals rolled in right on schedule, though Dana was true to his pledge to eat only at Paul’s while he was in town. I admit to having my fair share of it myself. So we had lots of leftovers for my last week.

Then, friends of the family began to drop by to Craig and Dana while they were in town. Margie (a very old friend), Rob and Midge, Janet and Richard (the son), Owen, Teddy, Hope and Rudy. It was a mad house. Dana and Kelly wisely bolted for the quiet shelter of their hotel room. Each of our visitors is a beloved member of our family’s history. I guess the word got out that the Rothman’s were all in town at once and that the House at Carol Drive would be passing out of the family.

IMG_2348

 

Even after everyone left except for Jan and me, Peter and Michele and Dennis and Jane called to ask if they could stop by…we said no. (We saw little of the regular gang: Rose and Marlene arrived with our dinner and left immediately looking somewhat stunned by the mob. Well, so were we.)

Don’t misunderstand: It hasn’t all been peaceful and loving. We Rothmans have strong opinions and can be stubborn in our rightousness. Feelings were hurt; pride wounded; tempers tested. Family is hard. But as always, we were up to the task. One late evening after a long and difficult day, Jan, Shelley, and I just lost it and had to separate. Craig went and sat in a chair that had been dragged to the curb for giveaway. I went for a walk around the block, barefoot down the center of the road just like I used to when I grew up here. I sobbed most of the way round wondering if we had finally and irrevocably gone too far and severed our family bonds. When I got back, I chatted amicably with a nearby family who were thrilled to take home a couple of bamboo shelves. I went inside and found Shelley sorting through some family papers. I joined her and we laughed and reminisced. Jan and Craig joined us in the kitchen as we passed around old photos, read aloud letters from our ancestors, and made surprising discoveries about them (more on that latter). Love won out again.