I left my house the morning of July 2 at 4:30 to arrive at the airport for a 6 am flight to Chicago for Rhoda Gordon’s funeral, and I returned home at 11 that same night. Call that crazy, but it worked for me. I just didn’t want to call this a trip. I didn’t want to bother with a suitcase or sleep in another strange bed after our recent five-week trip, so going to Chicago and coming back the same day made sense to me. And, I’m glad I did it.
My cousin Mike was visibly moved to have my sister and me there. He is very bereft of family. And when he told me how much it meant to him as we kissed goodbye, I reminded him that he needed to have his family there with him at a time like this.
And of course the highlights of the trip were being with my sister and her husband and having lunch with my other cousins who live nearby. I even had the delight in reading an interesting account of a murder trial in "The New Yorker," something I might have passed up had I not had the long stretches of flying time that day.
So what did I learn?
· Rhoda, four days my senior, probably died of an aneurism
· Rhoda was a pillar of her synagogue, choir, and ostomy community
· Rhoda was a very brave woman to have survived two cancers -- one of them necessitating the ostomy
· Rhoda was very much loved by those who knew her
· And even though I knew her for over 50 years – she and Mike were married 49+ years and I met her before they were married -- I certainly didn’t know her very well. Probably the best and most talkative time I ever had with her was when I saw her in May. I am so glad we had that time together.
· Rhoda's twin sons are now about 45 years old and still single. She would have loved to have seen them finally married and settled.
We also visited my mother and father's family plots at the same cemetery where we just buried Rhoda. My grandmother Shula, aunt Bertha, uncle Phil from my mother's side are buried there. My grandfather and grandmother Isadore and Myrtle; aunt and uncle David and Ann, and cousins Abe and Ruth are there from my father's side. Coincidentally this was the first time I had been there since 1979 when I went to Mike’s father's funeral.
While we were in Mike’s house after the funeral I admired two of his mother’s sculptures. Aunt Ann, my dad's sister, created them in 1929. I remember seeing them many times while I was growing up in Chicago. Perhaps she was the source of the artistic talent in my family.