You left us 7 years 9 months ago to go on that ultimate adventure.
I knew at the time there were not going to be any postcards. That it was highly likely you would not visit. That any conversations that we had would likely be ones where I did most of the talking and you did all of the listening.
Even after all this time I want to call you every time I sit down in an Admirals Club, or each time I see something that intrigues me and know it will fascinate you as well. I still hold onto hope that I will miraculously get some “minor memorandum” or story from you in my email. I am, like you, an optimist so I still look. Everyday. It just means that instead of calling you, I think of you. It means that instead of looking for your stories I write some with you in mind. It means that you are in my thoughts nearly every day and wrapped around my most heartfelt moments and yours whose spirit I rely on when I need courage the most.
It is why I decided to write you this note. A postcard to the edge you might say. Because it has been 7 years 9 months and a lot has happened in that time.
Remember that girl I introduced to you from Brazil. The woman I met on that cruise. Well I married her 6 years ago in our backyard. It was a real family affair. Cate was maid of honor and Oliver was my best man. Marissa catered the event. Mark bucked me up and made me laugh when he called me “pussy galore” in his best James Bond voice as he wanted to snap me out of sappiness because like you, I get emotional when my heart is full of joy. It was the singular best day I have ever had but I am sure you know that as both Elaine and I thought we spied you sitting on one the branches of an oak tree overhanging the yard.
Speaking of Cate and Oliver, you would be so proud of them you could not help but kvell. Cate is an accomplished equestrian who has gotten so tall and so pretty. She is funny, fun, and such a nice person. I have no doubt the two of you would sit and talk forever. Oliver too has grown and looks so much like you. He is a love muffin and fascinated by how things work. He is considerate and always willing to help. A hug machine who loves to take Rothkopfian challenges. He recently won $100 from me after winning a challenge inspired by our trip to Juarez so many years ago. He managed to sample a hot sauce with a rating of 2,000,000 scovils and not have anything to drink for 5 minutes. He and Cate would be a worthy companion on any adventure.
Marissa and Mark are also doing exceptionally well. Mark is COO of Victor Insurance. Marissa is taking after you and is a professor at Montclair State and is still writing. They just finished a major renovation of their house including a new kitchen/family room, bathrooms etc. It is gorgeous and has come in so handy in the past few weeks but more about that later.
I guess you already know that after 52 years the house on Rotary Lane is no longer ours. The house was too big for Elaine and I, didn’t fit David’s lifestyle and the Bates are firmly entrenched in Montclair. Getting the house ready for sale was a major chore and Marissa did an excellent job guiding that ship. So many details. The toughest part for me though was going through the attic and find all the ephemera of our family going back over a century and a half. Seeing how a family was created and blossomed and all the love that went into its creation. It made me understand, in a way I never had before, the love that was the foundation and the sustenance of our family. The memories so dear that you and Mom preserved them. They made me wish I had asked you both a million more questions before you decided to go on holiday.
All these memories captured in photos, trunks, scrapbooks and cardboard boxes also gave me strength to know even though the house you and Mom nurtured our family will no longer be ours it will endure because of the love you created for all of us.
And perhaps it is all those memories that has made it impossible for me to drive by the house since it was sold. I don’t want any memories of that house that have anything but Rothkopf’s in it.
The saddest news that I have to report is, sadly, the world is at war again. This time we are not fighting fascism. We are not fighting communism or totalitarianism. We are fighting a far more insidious foe. A virus call Covid 19 that has spread around the world killing 10s of thousand and infecting in just a few short months over a half million.
We should have been better prepared for this war. But the President of the United States decided to rely on hope instead of science, wishes instead of facts, bluster instead of honesty. Did I mention his name was Donald Trump.
Sorry, I know. We let down everyone from the greatest generation and elected a man not worthy of the office. Who could not lead us in a time of crisis because they only person he really cares about leading is himself.
Sorry for the outburst but he makes me angry.
The result of his inaction and reliance on everything but science is the US now leads the world in Covid 19 infections and soon to top the world in deaths from the virus. Almost the whole US is under shelter in place rules where you are not allowed to leave your home except to shop for groceries or other essentials, go to the Drs or other essential movement.
You would have been proud of me Dad. I had and have had survival supplies at the ready. It was something that you taught me to do. So I was ready with water, food (freeze dried), essential supplies like bleach, toilet paper, and even masks among other things so that we would not have to leave home for a month. But like you taught me, man plans and god laughs. When the excrement hit the rotating blades and the lockdowns ordered, I was caught in Brazil with no way to get home.
You will be happy to know that Elaine and I wash our hands at least 15 times a day. A habit you drummed into whenever and wherever we traveled.
The good news for Elaine and I is that the virus has not taken hold in Brazil the way it has in the US. We have self-quarantined for 17 days and are healthy and well stocked. Which is good because the bad news is that it is only going to get worse here as the President here is even stupider than Trump.
Marissa, Mark, Cate and Oliver are doing well. The newly renovated kitchen/dining room/living room has become a lifeboat for them. From what I can tell from them they are doing their best to keep the negative noise that is constantly appearing on social media, the internet and broadcast at bay by watching shows like “Hot Ones” and others that can distract from the horrors transpiring just beyond their windows
From the limited correspondence that I have from David and his wife Carla (Did I mention he got remarried? ) although they live in the epicenter of the US outbreak, NYC, they are following all precautions and doing well as our Joanna and Laura.
I have to tell you Pops that this crisis makes me miss you more than ever. You always made your children feel safe, like nothing could harm them if you were nearby. It would be a very comforting feeling to have you close right now. We could use your wisdom and your knowledge. Your scientific mind and with your copious consumption of information regarding the crisis I have no doubt would provide all of us with thoughts and guidance that would allow us to navigate this crisis with less fear, and far more knowledge and hope.
Which brings me to my ulterior motive in writing this note. Would you mind staying close for a little while. And if you can’t, if you have a big adventure you cannot put off, would you leave a forwarding address.
Because even though I know I will do all the talking and you all the listening knowing you are nearby will help. And maybe someday you might even whisper back.