Thursday, July 07, 2005


Laurence Simon posed the question today, “If you use humor as a coping mechanism, where are the humorous Edloe observations?”

Edloe, for those of you who did not know her, was one of Laurence’s cats, an enormous, lovable, shaggy grumpus. And with Edloe having traipsed off to the Great Kitty Beyond last week - to the regret of House Simon as well as that of cat lovers throughout the Bloggy-Sphere - it was a timely question. And it’s a question that, I suspect, only Laurence will be able to answer for himself.

As for myself, I think I may have answered my own version of that question.

Let the Elisson Way-Back Machine take you to early April, 1988. Mom d’Elisson having just passed away a few days before, it’s now after the funeral. The family is still gathered together at the Ancestral Home d’Eli on the south shore of Long Island, despite formal shiva observance having been ended after only two days due to the advent of Passover.

Going though some of my mother’s effects, I discovered her library card.

As an aside, I will tell you that Mom was a voracious reader. Both she and Dad always had a stack of books on the nightstand, with her pile, like as not, consisting largely of mysteries and science fiction. It’s to Mom that I owe my love of SF, a fascination that goes back over 45 years.

So finding her library card was, in a sense, finding a real touchstone. Something that really helped me connect with her. I could almost feel her presence, encapsulated in that little piece of pasteboard and plastic.

Somehow or other, I got the bright idea to run down to the library and take out a few books on her card. Hey, it made sense. I was not a local resident, but I was going to be around for a few more days, and I was hungry for Reading Matter. Why not use Mom’s card? She wouldn’t have minded – hell, she would’ve approved.

Minutes later, I’m at the local libe, a nostalgia trip in itself: it had been years since I had last set foot there. I ran around, pillaging the stacks for a few easily digestible tomes, then headed to the checkout and handed the card to the librarian.

She looked at the card and said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Elisson...but this card’s expired.”

And of course, what else could I say, but:

“That’s OK – its owner is expired, too.”

So I guess if you ask me, “When do you start using humor again to cope with a loss?” the answer is “about four days.” Laurence may have a different opinion, but loss and grief are personal emotions, and there’s no one right answer.

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