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POETRY & SHORT FICTION, Daniel Friedman
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To: Linda Ann Friedman Berman 17 January 2010
From: your brother Daniel (Danny Pupsie Boy) Friedman
To My Loving Sister Linda,
Did you know that even as you teased me I loved you more? – Humor.
Do you remember suggesting that I pee out the bathroom window to see what would happen?
Yellow pee ran down the white-painted clapboards of the house (that second floor window to the left of the tree in the photo at right).
We couldn't understand how our parents knew, immediately, what had happened? We had fun, didn't’t we? – Sharp aim, daring.
Do you remember telling me to “stop breathing” because my raspy wheezing was keeping you awake? – Wit.
Mom heard and, in character, exploded into our shared bedroom shouting at you “Stop trying to kill your little brother.” After all, you had wanted a little sister.
I knew you weren’t really trying to kill me. I was and remain your boy-sister.
I remember our plays on the stage, with me cast as the fairy elf, your or Eve-Lynn as the princess. Into the story plot Dad fed us a few lines to amuse the adults. That's you on the left, me in the middle, and our cousin Eve Lynn on the right.
Dad told us to emphasize the ess in princess.
You and our cousin Eve-Lynn dressed me in a tutu, or other times in a fig leaf. Wasn't I cute?
We were nuts, but just little nuts. It was the adults who, even then, we knew were the big nuts.
They screamed with laugher when at the end of our play I explained that I couldn’t marry you because I was a fairy. What was so funny about that? – Drama.
I remember playing cards, war, old maid, in the window alcove at Lindan. At big group meals we ate there at the kids’ table. – Solidarity.
We both remember swimming in the warm Rappahannock, and walking with excitement to the upstream point where we were almost out of view of the adults.
Or to the downstream point – as far away as we could get. Often hand in hand, sometimes, we went running on the hot sand, dodging the prickly weeds. – Away.
I remember our play house, jumping off the roof down onto a sand pile, holding a beach umbrella to see if it would serve as a parachute – it didn’t – and I remember that you let me go first (and last). – Adventure. – Brains.
Do you remember walking over to the McMann’s to sit in their field, eating their hot strawberries, both us and the fruit heated by the sun? – Warmth.
I don’t really remember when I graduated from diapers to swimming trunks.
You kindly donated the use of your swim suit bottom. (At left).
At the time they fit me pretty well, and as you can see, I was pleased.
Do you remember sitting on the front porch at Lindan, watching intense rain storms come up the river, a solid roaring wall of water moving north across the water.
The porch was our safe place, and it remains my mental refuge. We can go there, any time. – Safety.
When we were little, we liked to play with the same toys.
Do you remember, at 7104 University Drive, how you would read to me?
You would sit on the edge of your bed facing the door to your room, book on your knees, reading aloud.
I would kneel on the bed behind you and brush your hair. If the brush stopped, the reading stopped.
That was the beginning of my love of reading, and certainly of my desire to learn to read. I already loved you, of course.
I thought I was dead.
My head had been blown up.
Do you remember at the dinner table in Richmond when, under duress, you finally said "I don't like milk. If you make me drink this milk, I'll throw up."? They did, and you did. It was marvelous. Thank-you for throwing up on cue. How did you do that? – Mystery – Diversionary tactics.
Daddy loved you best, but you were generous in sharing his attention. – Sharing.
You won’t remember, because you weren’t there, but when you were a little older, we all, mom, dad, and I, took you to the train station for you to go off to Camp Severance or to Queen Lake camp - I forget which it was.
After you got on the train and we had waved to you from the platform, we all got back into the car to drive home. The car was very quiet. In his cheery voice Dad said “Well, that’s one bird flown from the nest.” Mom burst out sobbing.
I bet you remember later, when we came home from our respective summer camps (I hated baseball camp), being picked up by the parents, and driven … where?
To a new home? Yep. They moved while we were away – Surprise.
Do you remember that it happened again? When I came to visit you and Irwin on my getting out of the Army – I came to your townhouse in Maryland. I didn’t know where mom and dad had moved. It was marvelous. That feeling of having some control - by not trying to find out too soon. – Loyalty.
Do you remember when our family was visiting Poppa in Manhattan, Dad was at the office, and you and I were dragged along by Mom to a lunch date with “the mysterious man”?
We were two little anchors, dead-weight, increasingly upset with the flirtation and an agenda obvious, even to kids, though you were less mystified than I was.
We started acting up, or I did, until our restaurant scene became unbearable to the adults. Mom was rather drunk. It was scary. As we walked from the table to the door, you held my hand. – Comfort.
Somehow we got our wobbly mother out of the restaurant and into a taxi, and back to Poppa’s apartment, 1070 Park Avenue. Dad must have been called home, I don’t remember exactly, but we were saucer eyed when he gently pushed Mom, fully dressed, into the cold shower with all her clothes on. Wasn’t that wonderful?
I was thrilled when you showed me the lonely hearts book to which you and Evie Key had sent in personal descriptions and photos – purely as a naive lark. You showed me the crazy letters you got, some of them anyway, from hungry men who prowled those pages. You and Evie laughed hysterically, from the safe position of your bedroom. It was exciting when Mom, during one of her regular searches into our “stuff”, found those letters and became hysterical, certain that the two of you were teen age prostitutes. Well maybe not certain. Just fearful. – Innocence.
I absolutely loved it when you were the one in trouble, since I was usually the trouble maker. That was when, maybe around thirteen for you and ten for me, we started saying to one another, thank god I wasn’t an only child. No one else would believe this shit. We knew then, and we’ve always known, that we could believe one another.
Do you remember “Hell Pit”? I loved hell pit, with its horse that bit you, two cats, a stupid beagle, and 52 Mexican burros that our (probably tipsy) parents bought (they only intended to order two) for their new Vinita “farm” outside of Richmond.
I loved the burros who hee hawed waking us up at the crack of dawn. Dad loved the publicity – notice the tuba in the photo at left?
You hated hell pit – every minute of it. Sometimes you let me read about it in your diary. Then you saw articles about our family burro farm in the Richmond Times Dispatch and cried, Oh my GOD, I live in an ASS FARM, and it’s in all the newspapers!
Do you remember taking me along, riding in the back seat on one of your dates? The boy didn’t exactly like the idea, but he offered me a cigarette – which I loved.
It was my first smoke, or try at smoking, and in the dark, do you remember the stink in the car when I lit the filter end of the cigarette? – Youth.
Do you remember driving me to my guitar lessons? I do. I crouched hiding down on the floor in the back of the car (I think it was that black ’56 Chevy) while you and Evie danced in the middle of the intersection in your baby-doll shortie pajamas.
It was fun seeing if you could embarrass your baby brother. It was big fun. – Fun.
How about the way you taught me to deal with self consciousness, and about looking too much in the mirror. I didn’t like the two moles on my left cheek. I told you about it.
You named them for me, Jim and Joe.
And you persisted in asking me for many mornings, “So how are Jim and Joe?” “Hey, let’s count all of your moles, moley boy.”
See them at left? It was my birthday. You look so bored!
– Laugh at myself.
Do you remember our parents insisting that you stop dating that “ne’r do well vacuum cleaner salesman”? A week later his song hit the top of the charts across the U.S. “She wore an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot bikini.” She was afraid to come out of the water, she was afraid that somebody would see. She wore an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini, and in the water, she wanted to stay. Ya missed your chance to be super-rich, Sis. That’s ok. Irwin isn’t so bad. – Chance.
At Hell Pit you invited your girlfriends over for skinny dipping in the pool.
Quickly I called David Hoff. “You’ve got to get over here, immediately!”
Having never actually seen naked girls, we thought we had died and gone to heaven.
Heaven was on the metal roof over-looking the swimming pool – you can see that roof (rear right) in the photo at left along with your 1960 Valiant and Dad’s Triumph.
We had some difficulty maintaining our position up there, but we kept pretty quiet for a while. Then I crept down into the basement to turn on the under-water pool lights, giving David the fifteen seconds of best view of his life.
Amid the screaming girls, you stomped stark naked out of the pool, socked me in the shoulder, and turned off the lights.
I was worried when you went off to Goucher College. Maybe you would return home sophisticated, educated, changed, and distant. It was so reassuring when you next came back for a visit – you were giggling and acting goofy with your friends, and I realized you would be my Linda, my sister, forever. – Trust.
I remember how much you loved visiting the family at Virginia Beach. Just look at the expression on your face (photo at left)! Irwin has that pre-gerbil biting face, and baby Jennifer had had enough already. – Endurance.
Wasn’t it exciting when the Hogan’s dog Margaret tried to eat Jennifer? No wonder she looked worried in her photos.
What about those adventures with Bobby Hoffman sneaking around outside our house in the dark? Sniffing around like a mangy dog. – Whispering.
Bobby has been replaced by the two Boca Raton electricians, (one of them is also named Bob) but it’s still been an adventure worth remarking on. Well you did most of the visiting. Thank you. – Generosity.
You were loyal and supportive to me through all my wives and girl friends, never calling them funny names like “Bitch” or “Woody”.
Sometimes, you used veiled expressions (above left-center) to show me how to deal with having to be someplace that we’d rather not be. – Secret Power. – Loyalty.
And we sometimes talked about where we would rather be, and about being there.
– Perspective, priority, wisdom.
For the sixty-six years I’ve known you, Linda, you have taught me honesty, directness, adventure, intelligence, respect, humility, humor, and trust.
Not that I have necessarily learned these, but … I’m working on it.
Linda, from childhood you were my anchor to sanity and safety in a scary crazy world. Thank you.
Without you I would have blown away, dissolved, drowned, or jumped off of a roof, without an umbrella.
I would not have walked in the hot sand, worn a tutu, smoked the filter end a cigarette in the back of a ’56 Chevrolet, peed down the wall of our house, see Evie Key naked, nor enjoyed a thousand other moments of our lives.
We still love comparing notes about you-know-who, and saying “thank god neither of us was an only child.”
– We’ll keep it up, together, forever.
Love, your brother,
Florida & Georgia Public News Obituary Notice for Linda F. Berman
Palmetto Cemetery Directions
Linda Ann Friedman Berman's remains rest at the Palmetto cemetery, Brunswick Georgia where the burial took place on 16 March 2010. Directions: From Rte 17N in Brunswick, Left (East) on Parkwood R. passing a hospital on the right. Continue east until Parkwood ends in a Tee at Newcastle. Right on Newcastle Street, noting the Arco Baptist Church on the right, continue to Left on 7th Street to the first Left on Ross Road - noting an antique barn on the right. From Ross Road, take the first left into the cemetery through a brick gate, to the left rear area of the cemetery past 28th street. Or contact the Edo Miller & Sons funeral home www.edomilleandsonsfuneralhome.com in Brunswick GA for directions. 912-265-3636.
Eulogies to Linda F. Berman
LINDA F. BERMAN Linda F. Berman, wife to Irwin of 48 years, the epitome of joy and grace, died at home on March 13. In accordance with her wishes, there will be a family burial in Brunswick, GA. In addition to Irwin, Linda is survived by her mother, Teal; brother, Daniel; daughters, Laura and Jennifer and five grandchildren. Prior to her demise, Linda established the Berman Family Rabinnate, to support the salary of a full-time rabbi at Brunswick's Temple Beth Tefilloh (TBT). The family requests that rembrances be sent to TBT, P.O. Box 602, Brunswick, GA 31521. To express condolences and/or make donations Visit PalmBeachPost.com/obituaries
Published in The Palm Beach Post on March 16, 2010
Two Arias at the Moment of Passing
At the moment of Linda's Passing her brother was attending Cantantes Camino al Estrellata, an opera recital in San Miguel de Allende Mexico where ten young opera singers, chosen from among more than 100, each sang two operas in a competition. Below is the text, in translation, of what was being sung at 9:15 PM EST on 03/13/2010. The first aria, was begun at that moment - from her first note, soprano, Gizelxanth Rodriguez's voice brought a surge of deep tears. The second aria, sung by soprano Aaira Soria Tinoco, fit.
“In quelle trine morbide”, from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut
In these soft silken drapes and gilded alcove,
Then I had fervent caresses and sensuous
I again think about my humble dwelling,
“Song of the Moon” from Dvorak’s Rusalka
O moon high up in the deep, deep sky,
O, moon, stand still for a moment,
Light up his far away place,
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