Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

SEP-OCT 2017

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About a year ago, my wife, Jen, and I traveled to Baltimore for a funeral. Little did we know that barely 12 months later, that sad occasion would lead to one of the most enjoyable family gatherings we've been part of. In July, we got together with four of my first cousins on my dad's side and their spouses for a family reunion. Coordinating the event was no small feat. Allow me to backtrack — my father and his siblings all hail from Nashville, Tenn. At 85, my dad now lives in Indianapolis, which is how I wound up here. At 55, I'm the baby of the family. My oldest cousin, Steve, who we affectionately call "the King," is 70. If you're of a certain age, you know how this story goes. In spite of best intentions, you hardly ever see far-flung relatives until something bad happens. en, everyone rushes in for support, creating an all-too-brief opportunity to catch up. Last summer, the passing of my cousin Ellen's husband, Jerry, was that something bad. My mother-in-law graciously watched our kids so Jen and I could travel to be with the family. e intimate graveside service was sad, but also uplifting. And afterwards, we did what Jewish families do in these circumstances — tell stories, laugh, cry and eat. It sounds strange to say about a funeral, but we had a ball. I'm not sure whose idea it was, but all of the first cousins, with wives and husbands in tow, packed into an SUV after the service for a spontaneous 52-mile late-night run to the nearest Krispy Kreme, where we snapped selfies in front of the donut cases and (over)indulged on the ride back. All of us stayed at the same hotel, sitting around and kibitzing for hours. It was like no time had passed in the years since we'd been together. At the King's urging, we promised to stay in better touch; Jen and I decided to do our part by making something happen the following year. When the first anniversary of Jerry's passing rolled around, we found ourselves hosting the first of what, hopefully, will become an annual first cousins' reunion here in Indianapolis. I can't remember when I've had a better time. During the course of the four-day, adults-only event, we honored our grandfather "Itchie" Isadore, a saint of a man for putting up with my grandmother, with a memorial golf tournament at Broadmoor Country Club. My cousin Dennis was the victor, and suffice it to say the inaugural "Itchie Cup" proved great fun for everyone, with a framed black-and-white photo of the man himself watching us all tee off on the first and tenth holes. Afterwards, we took the whole gang to St. Elmo for the obligatory impress-your-out- of-town-guests dinner, and the following evening, to Ambrosia for a lingering night of superlative Italian fare. One night, I made paella for everyone at home. No meal was less than three hours, and we savored every moment. Talk is already underway about a 2018 reunion. For me, the takeaway in all this is the realization that an event as final and unbearably sad as a funeral can renew our appreciation for life. And as much as it's a reason to grieve, death also gives us a multitude of reasons to celebrate. It's certainly done just that for me, my wife and my crazy cousins. Jeffrey Cohen From the Editor-in-Chief 30

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