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.