Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sunday Jan 13

Visited Freides children at
Claras house, and then
visited Herman at home to comfort them
Did not work today


Matt's Notes

I assume Papa is comforting Herman over the death of cousin Freida Kurtzberg, but I haven't been able to learn yet who Herman or Freida were or what their relationship was.

The Clara referred to here is not Papa's cousin Clara mentioned in a previous post, but Papa's younger sister Clara, known to me (not surprisingly) as "Aunt Clara."

I don't remember Clara as much more than a wizened, friendly woman with a thick accent. My last memory of her is at my Bar Mitzvah in 1979, at which point she had shrunk to just about the size of a walnut and was confined to a wheelchair. Sensitive to her condition and respectful of her elder status, I thereafter referred to her as "Disco Clara."

But as I write this now and react to the first mention of Clara in Papa's diary, I'm flooded suddenly with a feeling I can't name, flooded with a sense of the voluminous connection between two such lives, so many stories between them: of a younger brother taking his sister's hand in the crush of her arrival at Ellis Island; of the room they shared while penniless; of the precious steadiness they nurtured together against the maddening whirl of tenement life; of the suspenseful illnesses; of the optimism glimpsed through her marriage, his work; of the aid he gave her when her luck turned; of the sheer volumes of words spoken, dinners attended, celebrations and vigils; of the gifts he bought her children; of his own long-awaited marriage, and, at last, the birth of his own child; of the times she stopped and wondered how she had such a brother, how he had so much charity left for so many others when what he did for her alone would have been enough; of his illness and death, an unimaginable loss dealt so many years before she would, frail and at the end of her own life, watch his grandson at the lectern.

My sister and I live around the corner from each other, just like Papa and Clara did in 1924.



1/14 - I made some slight modifications to the above passage to correct a few errant details since I published it yesterday.

And here's Aunt Clara at my Bar Mitzvah:

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