Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Measure for Measure

Under normal circumstances, seeing my son - who works in the service of our Federal Government and does so approximately 2000 miles and two time zones from home - is an occasion of unbridled joy. Last evening, not so much. While it was both a joy and a relief to see his face as he ambled towards the terminal after deplaning in Newark, knowing that he had been summoned home for the unpleasant task of saying goodbye to his grandmother - his "Nona".

It is an unfortunate and unwelcome fact of my own life, I suppose that I am well-versed in the ritual of saying goodbye to a loved one. My father died at home when I was fourteen. By the time of his death, we had already buried at least two of my Mom's siblings (Uncle John and Aunt Ann) and all four of my grandparents. For good measure, Grandma Kelly - my maternal grandmother - died while visiting my mother and while sitting at our dining room table with my sister Jill and me. In the years since the death of my father, the ritual has been repeated countless times for aunts and uncles and - proving that death comes for those not related to yours truly by blood or marriage - four friends from high school.

We measure time in 12-month years -from January to December. We can actually track it though in any 12-month increment with whatever starting and ending point we choose. For example, our Superior Courts in New Jersey have a calendar that decrees July 1 the start of the new court year and June 30 the final day of the court year.

Applying that same logic to what has befallen my bride, her father, her brother and the rest of her family since August 1, 2008 seems more than simply unfortunate. It appears to be downright cruel. In less than one year's time - ten months exactly as a matter of fact - Margaret and her brother Frank have endured the death of their maternal grandmother and their mother. If possible, it has been even more unfair to my father-in-law. Joe has buried his mom-in-law (who lived in his home) and his bride of forty-nine plus years.

You will have to forgive Joe, Frank and Margaret if they cannot wait to get this "year" concluded. For them, August cannot get here quickly enough.


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