Nanna...

Is more or less accurate. My grandmother, Carrie Adams, died when I was about 3 and a half. She was walking me down the steps on a Sunday morning, started squeezing my hand, quivering, screaming odd things I didn't understand, yelling that she couldn't see, couldn't hear...I began laughing...ran to get my grandfather, Edward Hartman Adams...and that was that. I was shuttled off to the sides and stood around while the doctor came. Stroke. I first heard the word. The word sounded big and heavy. It didn't sound like a blow or a swipe at something... It sounded like a big thing dropping on top of you. Boom.

She was put onto her bed. She did linger for several days. She did die at home. People did that. This was 1946. Maybe.

My grandfather, who was called "Pop-pop", even though he was my mother's pop, not my father's dad, did, in fact look at me accusingly...glowering down, jowly from a great height and said, "You was laughing. Nanna was dying, and you was laughing!" He didn't mean to hurt me. He was upset about his wife. I guess I understood that. I also understood that in some way it was partly my fault. Not really, but down deep where meaning is, it was partly me that did it.

I don't have a brother. I did go to the viewing. I did bite my cheek. I remember thinking, watching some of the people, how strange it was that someone was dead and THEY could laugh.

I did not go to the funeral.

Sunday Morning...

Is fiction, is chapter 5 or 6 of an unfinished, untitled novel that wants to be a screenplay.

The events are based on things that happened. There is no Royce. I am an only child. I've split my experiences and parcelled them out to two characters.

In the novel, I've killed off my father. Every young man wants to do that. Mine, I kill off by chapter 2 -- lost in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

In reality, my father never went into the military. During the War, he was a machinist making parts for the Norden bombsight. A critical defense job.

This version of the story is set in the early 50s. During Korea. Pop-pop is listening to Gabriel Heater talk about Korea. Pop-pop liked Gabriel Heater's way with the news.

There were horse-drawn ice wagons, milk delivery vans, ice cream vendors. They had dwindled after the war, but there were still a few by the early 50s. There was no Old Gus, and Fat Wally is a friend. A guy here in Chicago. He knows he's fat!

While I don't have a brother, there are cousins. The specific cousins mentioned here are Barbara, Fred and Gail German. They lived in Chester, Pennsylvania. Every summer Fred and Gail used to spend about half the school vacation at our place in Reading. We'd climb the mountain, Mount Penn, quite often.

Then our parents would swap kids and I'd go to Chester to stay with them till school cranked up again.

Gail is the closest in age to me. We used to sleep together and laugh and giggle and tell scary stories to each other before falling asleep, both under the covers completely. A polio scare, and creeping adolescence, forced our parents to separate us. I cried for about a week. I was 11, maybe twelve.

Fred became a Fed. Barbara became a teacher, then married a dentist and lived happily ever after in Jersey. Gail married a lay minister with lots of kids and they, too, live on the east coast.

There is an Auman's Funeral Parlor. My mother's cousin, Elmer Adams, designed it. Elmer's first job as an architect. This building, a large colonial house-on-a hill on the edge of town, is one of my earliest recollections of a permanent human fixture on the landscape. The town reservoir is just across the road. Neversink mountain is just behind it. From here, the road runs down the hill toward Philly, about 50 miles away.

There are more stories about Auman's and the reservoir...lots more about the cousins.

Some of them are even true.

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These are the facts...