It is an unfortunate truth that extended family members may only get together for life cycle events, both happy and sad. Two weeks ago many members of the Graf family came to Philadelphia, and as a result I was able to spend time with my Tante Marisha. Marisha is now the matriarch of the family, the only person still alive of my father’s generation, and she looks great. She and my Uncle Charlie met in Poland during the war, moved to France after the war, and then eventually settled in Lakewood, New Jersey, where I spent much of my childhood visiting them and my cousins. I reminded my aunt that she use to call me “princess” and she reminded me that she would take me to the “market’ to help her sell hats.
Marisha arrived in Philadelphia with her sons, daughters-in-law, her eldest grandson and his wife. Both my cousin Michel and I named our middle children David, after our fathers’ brother who died during the war. I watched these two Davids, second cousins, both grown men, both married, both serious and both learned, talking to each other, and I was filled with a sense of continuity. Wherever I looked, cousins were conversing and getting to know each other. There was talk of cars, horses, gardening, art and architecture, and I was feeling strangely content despite the overwhelming sadness of the occasion. I realize that it may be years before all the cousins get together again, and hopefully next time it will be for a happy event, but I was sure that the three brothers, Jack, Charley and Harry knew we were there, together, under one roof, for a brief time.