Stephen Kahn

Posts Tagged ‘family’

Living a long time

In Good news on November 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm

As I contemplate the future, people in the present leap into focus in surprising ways, both good and terrible.

First the cheerful. In the past, I have spoken of my paternal aunt, Henriette, who lives in New York City. Her marriage shocked and appalled her family in Chicago as everyone detested her husband Morton. Morton told her he was a voice coach who could train her to be an opera singer; her older sister Naomi, trained as a ballet dancer had briefly danced professionally in a chorus line of a road company of Oklahoma. Henriette moved to New York City where she auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera. I’ve heard Henriette sing; I am no connoisseur of opera, but she sounded awful to me.

As my father died of a heart attack (his second) at the age of 43, I expected to croak before 50. My aunts all lived into their 80s and 90s, so my reaching 67 may be a sign of good genes in the stream. Both my mother and other aunt, Diana, reached their 80s; both died with dementia; so what I am typing sounds perfectly coherent to me, but perhaps not to you.

Anyway, Henriette, the last of my aunts still alive, is celebrating her 90th birthday. Ian [David knows whom I am talking about] once said of Henriette, “She will outlive us all.” She called me to report she had flown to Oregon and California. She had visited her son, Carl, who had fled NYC to Oregon where he started a new life with a marriage and a business o his own. Henriette and Carl are apparently reconciled now that they don’t have to be around each other very often. She went to California to visit a friend Paula (relocated from NYC) and to visit my youngest sister, a different Paula. In California, Henriette and Carl climbed a mountain. Well, half way; Henriette using a cane. How high? “I don’t know, about ten stories high,” she told me. In any case I am impressed.

She told me various anecdotes regarding the two Paulas; the references to two women with the same name providing much merriment. My sister Paula has been a fundamentalist Christian zealot since the age of 13. I can’t stand this sister (the other is fine); I have some fondness and admiration for Henriette, but much conversation with her quickly makes me weary and not desiring more. One of my brothers and my other sister have financially helped Paula at times, but we have no desire to continue helping her or have any more contact with her or listen to her religious babel. Henriette updated me. Sister Paula has been hired by another member of her church to live with her and be her companion; this reminds me of characters in a Regency novel. Apparently Henriette stayed with them briefly; they babbled incessantly about how much they love Jesus; Henriette babbled about New York City and opera; it sounds like everyone had a narcissistic good time; as do I babbling in my blog.

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