Friday, November 25, 2022
It did seem strange. My loving caring Jewish cousin in a cowboy hat. Growing up my Uncle Izzie didn’t have a cowboy hat. Neither did Uncle Murray or my dad. There were no steers to herd or horses to ride. The only cows we saw were for milking at Cherry Hill Farm when my dad took us for ice cream.
The cowboy hat represented the desire we all have to be something different than we were in a place that did not know where we came from. It is clear though that Michael loved his hat, making it his Facebook profile picture. When we visited him in Denver a few years ago, the place he most wanted to take us was the rodeo in Cheyenne.
One early memory with Michael was at Berman’s Hosiery, his parent’s lingerie store across from my dad’s dental office. Being in the midst of such an abundance of women’s undergarments, left us with a strange exotic feeling which of course we didn’t understand… and my always colorful Uncle Izzie with his risqué humor about his line of goods. All of this would be punctuated by the cha-changing of the magnificent large brown NCR cash register, the centerpiece of the store.
My brothers and I would hang out there while waiting for my dad to finish up at work. We were given pale colored paper inserts with rounded edges from woman’s underwear, brassiere, or stocking boxes to scribble on.
Michael had a lifetime love for fishing, a sport which is also imbued with a romantic dream of catching the biggest fish in the pond. There’s a wonderful picture of the two of us fishing on the dock at Camp Alton when I was 7 and Michael was 8. I have my red and white striped tee shirt on which was fashionable at the time and Michael has a Camp Alton sweatshirt. We’re about three feet apart, both staring intently at the end of our lines in the water.
This was just one of many fishing experiences Michael and I shared throughout our lives. There was the night we saw the Northern lights at 2 AM on Salmon Lake while staying at Dan Snow’s, again waiting for the big one to strike. And then there was day that big one did strike and the outline of this four and half pound smallmouth bass that Michael caught was put up on Dan Snow’s barn and is perhaps still there as one of the trophy fish from the pond.
There was the day that the warden caught us fishing without a license and we were in a hair’s breadth of a fine or spending the night in the local jail. And the time that one of us (I don’t remember which one) dropped Sol Steinman’s double sided triple shelf fishing box in the lake. We took turns diving for the lures over the next few days. And of course, the time we forgot to secure Sol Steinman’s boat which then floated down the river unmanned.
Like my son Ben, Michael cared deeply about those around them. He never wanted to be a burden. Whatever his troubles and doubts, he tried earnestly to be positive and avoid feeling sorry for himself.
With both Ben and Elena, he felt a special kinship. Michael came along when I took Ben and Elena on fishing trips, schooling them in the best techniques to hook a big one. When Kris and I took a much-needed respite, Michael and Carol cared for Ben and Elena over the weekend. Upon our return, Ben and Elena staged a puppet show which they had been practicing all weekend. I have a video of it somewhere. Michael gave Elena the nickname “Miss Me Too” because she would say “Me Too” to every new activity that Michael or Carol proposed. From then on out, Michael often referred to Elena as “Miss Me Too”. Michael and Elena were Facebook friends and during the last few months after Evie Renee was born, Michael would tell me how much he enjoyed looking at the baby pictures which Elena had sent him.
Michael, I wanted to let you know that every time I see a fish jump in the pond in front of our condo, I’ll be thinking of you, that cowboy hat and all the good times we had together.