Friday, October 06, 2006

Our family go-to guy

Every family has one. In our case, it is my cousin Bernie. Need a lawyer? Call Bernie. Ditto help with your income tax. But his one irreplaceable function is as the family death and funeral person.

When someone dies, for instance my mother, Bernie takes over. He talks to the rabbi, the funeral director, picks out the casket, decides on the pallbearers, and calls everybody who needs to be called. I was very grateful to him and so was my brother, for sparing us these necessary but unpleasant tasks.

When his sister's husband was killed, she immediately called Bernie, and he was on the next plane. He then called the funeral director, the rabbi, etc. I believe he even identified the body, a gruesome task since the man was hit by a car.

Bernie has become a really great judge of casket quality and price by now. He's good on the phone, too. Except, by now, a phone call from him is bad news. When you answer the phone and it is Bernie, your heart sinks to your boots.

The last good news phone call I got from him was when his last daughter was born, and she's a mother herself by now.

But what really gets me going is this: who's going to do all this stuff when Bernie dies? And who will be the next go-to guy?

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