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  • Driving back from Long Island into Manhattan, my father talked about the wedding he went to the night before (to which I was not invited). It was, the "other side" of "his side" of the family.

    He rambled from topic to topic, only the loosest of threads connecting his stories. The conversation turned to my paternal grandfather, Eugene Tannenbaum, who was unable to make it the night before. We laughed about his bad habits. Smoking cigars. Sporadic racism. That temper.

    Apparently, some of last night's guests had taken to calling him the 'ogre' of the family.

    And then, just like that, jovial turned to serious. "I always knew that there was another sibling who died young," Dad said. "She was his twin. She died very young. Influenza. They were nine. I don't think he ever coped with it."

    My aunt had recently shared this with him.

    There's a lot about my father's side of the family that I don't know about. I had mostly thought it was procedural. Timelines. Locations. Names of the extended family. But I knew the basic history.

    Clearly, this is not the case. And so I wonder, what else has been lost?

    In so many ways, I am my grandfather. When I look in the mirror, I see the same image he saw staring back over fifty years ago. It's hard to disassociate the practical differences from the fact that we look so damn similar.

    But he had a twin sister for nine years. In my twenty-nine years, he has never once mentioned it to me and apparently it was no different for my father.

    It's understandable I suppose. I can't imagine how that fucks you up inside. But it begs the question, what else was lost? What other stories are floating in the ether?

    For every tall tale, is there one line-defining incident that will never be shared with me? What made this man? And, in effect, what made me?
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