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.