Ever since they were boys, my father and his brother Sam worked side-by-side 6 days a week running the family upholstery shop. A. Brood & Sons. That store was the lifeblood of our family. Brood Fabrics. I hear those words in Uncle Sam’s voice, answering the phone whenever I called over to the store to talk with Dad. I hear his bird song whistle traveling out from his office loft, drifting down through the bolts of mohair, silk, chenille to capture Dad’s attention on theshop floor below. That store was the evolution of a dream. A dream realized by their Jewish father after he made a home in Philadelphia following his emigration from Poland just prior to WWII. That store was the foundation our family was built upon. My father and his brother carried their father’s dream forward as long as they could until a complexity of circumstances (including Dad’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis) forced them into retirement in 2010. My father was 76 at the time. Uncle Sam was 80. If you were to count up all the hours in their lives, they may have spent the majority of them together. Brothers, business partners, best friends, soul companions. After the store closed, for years whenever the brothers would speak their conversations were saturated with longing for the days they spent together on 4th Street on Fabric Row. Even now, many days Dad will emerge from a revery asking for a ride to the store. Whenever he is in despair or feeling gripped by his anxiety, he will ask for his brother Sam. “I need to call my brother Sam. I need to talk to Sam. Please help me get my brother Sam on the line.” We took my father to see his brother for the last time on Saturday morning. We sat Dad by Sam, guided their hands together, and let them be that way for a while – drifting through dilaudid and dementia induced haze. In that state I felt their yearning as well as their peace. Woven together, they lived for and within each other.
Sam slipped from his body yesterday afternoon trailing threads into the other world. We cling to the opposite end of this distance. The gravity of our loss pulls the wrinkles from the weaving revealing an intricate tapestry of family and love.
It’s a small world. My husbands grandfather was also a Jewish upholsterer from Philadelphia , Bill Greenberg He would have been 25-30 years older but who knows , they probably crossed paths being in the same industry :). Nice story thanks
That pendant hanging from his neck in the photo. Familiar. My mother wore one until 1:45 Saturday morning until I slipped it from her. She insisted on wearing even though I was in the room with, and would be as long as she was there. And then she didn’t need it any more. I’m sorry for the ending in your life, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing it.
Elizabeth, that’s a lovely, lovely tribute to your father, his brother, and your family. I wish and pray for you to have all you need to hold your father up as he walks on without his beloved friend and brother. And a special prayer for you and your siblings, too.
You are the wonderful daughter, filled with love and compassion well beyond most. My Dad lived with dementia in his latter years, his Mom Alzheimer’s. I have done therapy dog visits with my girls for the last 15 years, so I know that you have gone above what most humans are almost capable of doing for those that we love. To say that I admire you is an understatement. You and your family and always in my prayers and thoughts. I know that you cherish every moment that you have as I did.
Beautiful and heartbreaking! I can’t imagine your dad’s longing in his loss. And I can’t imagine the pain your heart suffers as you both must navigate forward in the strange darkness. I’m so sorry dear friend. For all of it. Holding you in heart with all the hugs, love and support!