I'm writing this in the Baltimore airport, in transit to Columbus, OH.
Baltimore is a sore subject for me. My mother Ruth was born there, but her relationship with her family was fractious and, ultimately, fractured. I spent some time as a very young kid here with my grandparents, and I remember well being ring bearer in my Aunt Barbara's wedding to my new Uncle Burton, in about 1965.
The next time I saw Barbara wasn't until the late 1990's. My grandmother Dorothy had managed to put a division between my mom and my aunt that neither one of them had worked to dislodge for many, many years. Over time, the split came to be like the Merchant's Shot Tower that rises in the heart of Baltimore, looming over everything, too old to tear down, with its original bellicose purpose forgotten and obsolete.
My mom got sick, as had my aunt before her, and eventually they decided that, whatever their differences had been, they weren't that important. Barbara and Burton visited my mom a few times before she died, which made us all very happy, but regretful about what might have been. It quickly became clear that Barbara and Burton were straightforward, sweet, caring people. The loss of a relationship between their family and ours was a pointless loss for all concerned. Ruth, Barbara, Burton, and Dorothy all died soon after the sisters reconnected.
That generation is pretty much in God's hands now. But the story continues. In Baltimore I was able to see my cousin Mike, and introduce him to my daughter Eliza for the first time. Mike and I had hit it off under sad circumstances (the funerals of his two parents) and by now it's pretty clear we could have been pretty good pals growing up. He's in the music business, running a small record label, and my own love of music affords us plenty of common ground. He's warm hearted, smart, cool, and funny, all of which makes him a great guy to visit with.
These days, he and his sister, my cousin, Diana, don't see much of each other. From what he described, something he did out of concern was interpreted as criticism and this left bad feelings between them. I don't know her side of the story - we haven't been in touch since the funerals. From my perspective, it sounds like the same old same old - The Curse Of The Greenbergs going on strong. I know I would have liked to see her and to have my daughter meet her - there are some ways they remind me of each other, based on the short meeting Diana and I had about ten tears ago.
Diana, if you are reading this: "Nevermore!" Answer my email, please. Call your brother, please. This has gone on long enough. Eventually you'll decide that, whatever your differences have been, they aren't that important. Your family loves you, in our own twisted way.