I was taking notes today, when suddenly I realized that my letter “s” has the same curve as yours – like a figure-eight curled up at the end of a word. My handwriting has become a sloppy cursive-print mix. Yours is impeccable and even – like you wrote every sentence on a line that you drew on paper with a pencil, and then erased later.
Have you quit smoking? I remember walking into the kitchen to find you leaning on the counter, talking on the phone – they still had cords back then – and taking a long drag as you listened intently to whoever was on the other end of the line. You used to call me for a good yak when I was in college, and I knew you were in the kitchen, elbows on the counter, watching the cat clock on the wall. Do you remember that clock? It was a caramel-colored cat that hung about three feet from the ceiling. Its tail was studded with rhinestones, and it swished with every move of the minute hand. I’d like to have that clock. Do you think Aunt Sue would give it to me – or let me photograph it?
The other morning I was making pancakes with the kids, and I told them the names of your three cats: Lizzie, the nervous Siamese; Taffy, the green-eyed Persian; and Marmaduke, Uncle Bob’s black Halloween cat who burned the hair off the tip of his tail by walking on the stove. Remember that sticker you kept on the front door of the apartment? The one that pleaded with the firemen to save the 3 cats and 1 dog that lived inside? No matter how many times you had to use white-out to change the numbers, you insisted on keeping that sticker on the door.
What was your marriage really like? I always wanted to ask you. Did Uncle Bob really bring home a tarantula, and keep it on the top shelf of his closet? I bet you were in Milan when he pulled that stunt. I still have the slides you brought home for me from one of your buying trips. When you were away, I used to picture you walking NYC-pace down the sidewalk of an immaculate city, wearing a very smart trench coat, with the collar pulled up around your ears.
My son has your eyes. They are oval-shaped and watery blue. Sometimes when he looks at me, I see you. I call him “my love” – just like you called me. When he is tired, I ask him if he wants to “stretch out” on the couch – just like you asked me.
I guess you know by now that I’m waiting for you. I guess you have to take your time and come when you’re ready. Remember that dream we had a few years ago? We were flying – in white ankle-length nightgowns – over the African plain. Let’s do that again.