One of things might be fabricated is the sort of thing my son might say after hearing me begin a story.
After all he was there to hear me move from the tale of “Sweet June” to “Sweat June” and back to “Sweet June” in less than five minutes.
There isn’t time to fill you in on the entire back story so you’ll have to accept that I deftly pivoted from the tale of a woman to a boat, to a woman and then a boiler and back to a woman.
And I took time to mention that no woman wants to be referred to as a boiler even if you lay out how her job placed her as the head of hard boiling eggs for the salad team at a local diner.
So as we stopped, stared, gawked and grimaced our way through a week that made us shake our heads we reached today.
It is the fourth anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting, my grandfather’s 108th birthday and the day after the nine year anniversary of my having left the Ponderosa.
Several things jump out at me about all this.
Grandpa would have been shocked had he actually lived to be 108.
I would have liked to have asked him where they lived in Pittsburgh as I am curious if it was close to Tree of Life.
When I left the Ponderosa in 2013 I said I would return and take care of unfinished business, dreams and miscellaneous items.
My head is spinning a bit after having watched the HBO documentary on the shooting.
A Small Community
I recognized one of the people in the documentary from time we shared at an overnight summer camp we both worked at in the in early nineties.
I know other people from the shul or who knew people there as well.
If you aren’t familiar with how small the Jewish community is that might surprise you because I didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh.
Didn’t live there or any where close nor have I been there, though I have been to Pennsylvania several times.
Decades of activities in various Jewish groups as a child and staff member make it easy to have broad and deep connections.
Anyhoo, when your family works at synagogues and your children attend Jewish day schools you think about what could happen and you prepare for it.
I have been to active shooter training and I know people who always had something extra on them when they were at shul.
We didn’t like it but we understood that we have to take steps to live in the world that is while we work to make the world we want.
For a number of years I had an office that was next to the school the kids went to when they were in their preschool and elementary years.
I could see the yard from window and sometimes when I would be on the phone I would watch them play.
It was something I appreciated for multiple reasons including the knowledge that if I felt I needed to get there in a hurry I could.
The documentary brought some of those thoughts back and reminded me about how October 2018 was only a few months after Dad died.
Grandpa died in 2006 so by the time of the Tree of Life shooting I had long stopped thinking I could pick up the phone and call him, but that didn’t apply to Dad.
Can’t say that I picked up the cell and tried to call because I don’t remember doing that but I do remember making a note to ask him if he knew the shul. It opened in ’53 so it was possible that he might have been there.
Does it really matter?
No, it doesn’t but I was curious.
Don’t have to ask what Dad would have said about the shooting. He would have been sad for those who were murdered and their families.
Somewhere in that conversation he would have reminded me to be careful and added a note about my obligation to the family.
“You do whatever it takes.”
Heard that more than a few times along with a few other comments. It was just him and I in a house where we were more than outnumbered.
There is so much more I could say and part of me is sort of inclined, especially since it is Grandpa’s birthday but some of that is for face-to-face contact.
My Heart Wishes To Fly Freely
It was a rough start to the day for a variety of reasons but things were stable by around noon.
And as I flew through and above the turbulence I thought about what I would say if someone asked for my motto this week.
“My heart wishes to fly freely” was the answer.
Made sense to me then and still makes sense to me now.
But when I hit the gym to work out I spent less time working on building wings and more on rebuilding muscle I once had for a host of reasons.
Primary was because I feel better physically and mentally but there was also that thought that a man who is in shape looks like less of a target than one who isn’t.
Damn if that documentary didn’t stick me in a way.
We had so many years of thinking that this crap had mostly gone away and now we see it hasn’t.
So I guess part of me feels like I need to be able to use brain and brawn if needed to help put that sick genie back in its bottle.
Overall life is pretty damn good and so many of the battles I had to fight through seem to be far in the past but memories and experience echo sometimes huh.
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