The Impermanent Disruption
By Jon Weissberg
Staring at the melancholic rays emanating from the bereavement candle that pleasantly rests on the kitchen table of our rental home, I couldn’t help but recall my deceased Grandmother’s gargantuan breasts. Nana, as I called her, left behind a valuable legacy, but for the moment her mammoth chest stood out as my most salient memory. While concurrently longing to be a reverential young adult, I futilely held back my laughter as I thought about how my sister and I would place basketballs under our stretched t-shirts and then top them off with neon tennis balls in order to accurately mimic our loving Nana. Fortunately, my doltish breath did not expunge the symbolic tribute.
Now faded and unable to grasp, our vaudevillian props remain piled in the hallway closet of our childhood home beneath the incongruously large Yartzeit candle collection that idyllically lingered, like middle relief baseball pitchers waiting in the bullpen for the manager, or death in this case, to call them out for their brief yet meaningful assignment.
In order to protect my vision from the flickering beams, I placed my right thumb along my brows edge, reminiscent of when my parents simultaneously lowered the vanity mirrors of the rusting Buick, preventing the glaring sun from it’s attempt to halt them from selflessly delivering their children to the third or fourth event of the day. Albeit a limp and unintentional salute, it was a display of gratitude to my deceased Nana, thanking her for passing on a calm demeanor, her unabashed love for pop music, and even her colossal nose. The kind you would comically find on a Nazi propaganda poster. Minus my propensity for tasteless jokes that involve the Third Reich, she would have been proud of what has become of her progeny, delighted that her son gathered his children and grandchild together for a vacation in the Hamptons to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of their loving Mother, Grandmother and his wife.
My parents lit the candle shortly after the magnificent sun sought haven behind the western edge of the Moriches Bay. As the vibrant hue diminished, and the stars were unveiled, we pompously remained in our seats, satisfied with our refusal to overlook such an ordinary yet exceptional sight.
Following the sunset, I genuinely thanked my Mom for cooking the meal, but as the youngest child often does, I did not stop there. While washing the remnants of burnt fish off of a plate, I reminded her that, “Salmon should not look like squirrel.” This loving insult preceded a tender yet well-deserved smack to my sun-kissed arm, the kind of physical contact that ironically serves as an indication of one’s affection. The feeling might not have been enjoyable, but it was benign when compared to the sadness that accompanies the emotional abandonment of an insipid frown.
After a contemptuous game of Scrabble, my parents dozed off to the sound of the Mets game, occasionally waking up to snarl at the score. On the steps, next to the electrical outlet, my concerned sister and brother-in-law farcically clenched the fully charged baby monitor, transfixed by the grainy image of their quiescent offspring. Even though this was the first time in Jonah’s seven-month life that he was allowed to sleep anywhere but his bedroom, I was certain that he would be fine due to the assistance of the black out blinds, malaria net and ocean noisemaker that they had brought to ease him into this complex transition.
As the Mets lead started to dwindle, I heard a violent crackling, followed by the house lights flashing, reminiscent of the melodramatic strobe effect you only see in generic horror movies. Unaffected by the mercurial radiance, something they’ve often dealt with throughout their marriage, my parents continued to “rest their eyes” as I was stuck with the task of consoling my terrified sister and brother-in-law.
“What will we do if the lights go out?” my sister asked.
“Jonah can’t sleep without a fan. He’ll overheat!” her husband declared.
Before I could interject with an insensitive analogy about jovial babies in third-world countries, my sister continued the chain of outlandish assertions.