So, Sharon Duckman does geneology. On line, another geneologist finds her. Usually Sharon searched for Natters or one of her other projects. This time, a Duckman found her. Susan Duckman. A Scotswoman.
The discussion continued. Who knew? Another Duckman. Elizabeth. She lives nearby in West Palm Beach. We met at the Norton yesterday.
More to say, but let me leave it at this: I love family and I wonder what happened? How did this family that struggled to come to America, to escape persecution and find opportunity to achieve, dissolve so quickly, leaving Judaism, dismissing cousins, and rejecting their genes?
Check out the Duckman eyes on Susan and the Duckman attitude on Elizabeth. I cannot tell you the warmth I got from these babes. Terrific.
So, Sharon Duckman and I go to Sarasota with a group of Valencia Reservists, three busloads to be exact. People talking trash, retiree trash (grandkids, golf, cards, restaurants and where do you by bagels) don’t interest me and what I know doesn’t interest them. We stay by ourselves because I don’t have social skills and cannot answer questions like: what did you do for a living; where did you come from; and where do you live. Besides, nobody listens anyway.
We are walking around the Selby Botanical Gardens, looking at orchids and trees, shooting a few images. The sun is up, harsh and specular. To light one of my shots of Sharon, I take out a reflector and ask a passerby to hold it for me. In a flash of a second, she says, “Are you Lorin Duckman?”
Now, who would know me at a Botanical Gardens in Florida? “Yes, who are you?”
“I am you cousin Sharon Sumliner.” Her Father’s Mother and my Father’s Father were brother and sister.
We haven’t seen each other for twenty years, which makes her post Sharon Duckman. Still, I don’t know how she recognized me. She said it was my eyes and voice. I certainly didn’t recognize her. And, she did it so quickly.
But it was an extreme joy to see her; one which made the trip worthwhile even if I didn’t make any friends on the bus. We talked about family without figuring out why or how a family of the size of ours could dissolve so quickly. Lots of dead people whom we knew in common. Only a few around.
Seems to be happening to a lot of families. People die. People live. People move away. Many didn’t follow the Jewish lifestyle. Petty feuds. Short guest lists for weddings and bar mitzvahs. No family trees and no death notices. Life is complicated.
My father died fifty years ago today, making this occasion not one of my favorite holidays. I miss him terribly; always have. Would gladly have given him some of years I have been blessed with having.
Only a man in his mid 50’s when he died, as much a victim of World War II as if he had been killed in the field, he lived ten years less than I have, never having the opportunity to lead or command as he should have. A graduate of Brooklyn Poly, U of Michigan and its law school (where he met my Mother), he was on the verge of professional success when his illness made advancement impossible. Two years in the jungles of New Guinea had taken his hair, teeth and who knows what else. Never talked about it. Earning the rank of Major, the Government gave him a bronze star, for what I don’t know. Constantly sick – colds, lumps, digestion,etc. – acute lymphocitic leukemia finally claimed him. In retrospect, he died for at least 8 years. The barbaric treatments of the day left his body scarred from x-rays, his muscles weakened from untested drugs and his lungs seared by mustard gas treatment. I spent days, weeks, months going back and forth from the hospital, caring for him with my Mother as he slipped slowly to death, without me knowing about how sick he was. In those days, people didn’t talk about the big “C”.
So, they said I looked like him and acted like him. Never one to suffer fools or those who didn’t make the most of their talents, everything he did worked. Quick to anger and quicker to forgive, he had a thirst for knowing, doing, thinking and playing. What a joy walking around town with him or going to shul. He talked with many people about a diverse range of topics. I learned all the time with him. He taught me to read and to listen to jazz.
In my youth, he no longer could blow his horn, run after me or throw or catch. He taught my older brother how to do all those things. Hank excelled. Me. Just ordinary. We worked in the darkroom together, shooting a lot of photos and then printing them. Must be where I got my love for cameras and the craft of photography. Mother thought his condition became exacerbated by developers. She also did yoga into her 80’s and believed in Edgar Casey. I wonder what I’d have become if hadn’t died. A real estate lawyer who worked in a bank and lectured on titles and closings, I’d probably be rich. May not have screwed up my career, either. And he most certainly would have loved my wife, Sharon. I can hear them laughing.
“Hey dude. You know that some of us want to remain anonymous. You put us on the web and people willl know we are here.” What’s wrong with that.” “There are people here who may be wanted.” “Sure enough, my man, but most of them are unwanted.”
Eric ponders whatever Paul was talking about. “I had too much whiskey, too fast.”
I went to the Sholem Shuk, a local thrift shop to pick up a some clothes for Paul. Bought two pairs of pants and two T shirts for $5. Some kids stole his shoes, but the store that is too far from downtown to help the homeless, didn’t have his size shoes or any socks. Believe it or not, he liked the shirt.
To protect what little is left of my retirement and savings, I sometime watch CNBC. No more. Aside from the yelling, bickering, and free market blather, they try to do news. Because of their bias, that part of their offering falls way below even FOX’s, whom we all know is simply a tool for Rupert Murdock’s and Roger Ailes’ political machines. The government had a chance to stop Murdock, GE should stop Kernan and the rest of the banterers. I will watch no more.
Not a big fan of Facebook, though I know I should be. Just making my way through the web based social networks. Have a blog-www.Duckpondworks.com. Have a Twitter account which I don’t use. Have three e-mail addresses. Why anyone would have to deal with me these ways rather than than in person, I dunno. I am moving out into this virtual space, late, without a lot of support or tech knowledge, so who knows?
The yahrzeit for my Father, Lenny, is 25 Sivan, which in this year corresponds to the sundown before, through the evening of, Monday, June 7, 2010. I find the Jewish calendar comforting in this regard since, were we to observe the Roman calendar date, the actual date on which he died, June 16, 1963, Father’s Day, I would always be saying Kaddish and lighting a candle for him on a made-up day designed to have you remember your father. A little too contrived for me, since my relationship with him didn’t last so long and most of it was too painful to be worthy of celebrations endemic to Father’s Day.
When he died, I was a year short of my sixteenth birthday, a milestone of significance only because it allowed me to obtain a learner’s permit. His sickness carried on for most of my memorable childhood. We started taking him to the hospital and to the doctor’s offices when I was six or seven. I can remember the operations to remove little cysts from his arms, neck, and head. I remember the coughing, the wheezing, the fatigue. He couldn’t throw a ball anymore, walk, carry things, or bend over. At ten, we found out he had some kind of blood disorder and something growing in his lungs. He fought on for all those years, missing work, getting treatments. I helped put salve on the wounds left by the primitive radiation treatments of the time. No surprise when he died; subject to the remissions, he had a dead-going-through-the-motions-look for years. No one thought I knew. Continue reading “Lenny’s Yahrzeit 2010”