Showing posts from November, 2019


I wonder if I knew how rich I was when I had three brothers.  Here we are; me, Robby, MomMom, Alan, and Larry, at Alan's wedding. Donna, the bride, thought Alan's hair was too short. How could we have lost Larry, in so many ways, and we all acknowledged, the best of us?   He was full of grace. Larry watched me and Alan and Rob, his big sister and brothers, and figured out that if he gave Mom and Dad what they wanted;  nice manners  and good grades, they’d leave him alone to do as he pleased.   Once when I was feeling overwhelmed with new motherhood and I wasn’t getting enough understanding from Arthur--he was all, “ Okay, so you just had a baby, but where’s my dinner?”   Larry listened to me sob out my story, patting my knee, and said, “From what I have observed, living with another human being has got to be the most difficult thing in the world to do.”   And that got me through the next few days. And when he and Arthur went running around the Centr

Little Moments

This poem was in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago. I've been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say "bless you" when someone sneezes, a leftover from the bubonic Plague. "Don't die," we are saying.   And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up.  Mostly, we don't want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it.  to smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,  and for the driver of the red pick-up truck to let us pass. We have so little of each other, now. So far from tribe and fire.  Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say,

PopPop Brown

Harry Lewis Brown started working at the Bank of Smithtown in 1928 according to his obituary. He served continuously--first as cashier and then executive vice president, then  as chief operating officer.  In 1956 he was named the bank’s fourth president. You don’t hear a lot of nice things about bankers these days, but Harry Brown, my PopPop, taught me that banking is an art and a banker can be the heart of a community. He loved to tell stories about his adventures in banking.  One lady who applied for a loan invited him to her home.  She showed him the cold cellar where she had put up shelf after shelf of canned fruits and vegetables from her garden.  He looked at the array of shining jars and said, “Anyone who works that hard and is that thrifty will pay back our loan.”  And she did. And then there was the lady who said,  “Harry, I want a new mink and the sales are on but I’m not liquid at the moment.  Will you float me a loan?”   “Well, what do you have for collatera