Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Friday Oct 3

Philip my brother in law
had a serious accident
his hands are wounded
and his children are not well,

Oh God help them get well


As I've mentioned before, Papa's sister Nettie seemed to suffer far more from the day-to-day indignities of Jewish immigrant life in New York's tenements than Papa did, at least in 1924. Her children were sick and wracked with coughing fits; the joy of her son's birth was compromised by a telegram from overseas announcing her father's death; her husband, Philip, got pushed around by an opportunistic shyster posing as a teacher of English; and now Philip, already in and out of work, suffered an accident from which, I've been told, he never quite recovered.

Unfortunately, even as Papa constructed a more uplifting story for himself in subsequent years, Nettie's life continued to describe a tragic arc. Her daughter, Ruchale, would die of meningitis and Nettie would eventually conclude a long struggle with mental illness by taking her own life. Her sadness was of a very different sort than Papa's, incurable, bleak; I wonder if, in subsequent years, Papa contrasted his own life to hers and felt, through his empathetic sadness, somehow thankful.

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