Morris Shapiro died November 10, 2012, in Dallas, Texas. He was 103, and my grandmother’s baby brother.
Age is such a relative thing. Two years ago, I dreaded telling him my mother had died. I didn’t know what he would say.
“Oh honey,” he said, “how old was she?”
“She was 82, Uncle Morris,” I said.
“Ah,” he said. “So young.”
Until the last few months of his life, Uncle Morris cooked his blintzes, managed his stocks and took his neighbors to Dickey’s Barbecue. He had no children of his own, but put everyone else’s through graduate school.
Everything he did interested him. He lay in his pajamas on his king-size bed, marveling at nature shows and Cash Cab on television. He especially marveled at sports. Sports were his passion. When the world narrowed in, they became his salvation. When he was in the rehab hospital, battling renal failure, I called him on the phone.
“Honey,” he said, “saw a terrific tennis set today. Then they took me to the dining hall, and I had the largest shrimp.”
Uncle Morris didn’t marry until his late fifties, but once he did, he and his wife lived hip to hip for 20 years, and he nursed her so tenderly through her final cancer that when she grew too weak to do it herself, he applied her makeup for her.
In his nineties, he found love again, just outside his garden apartment. He fell in love with his neighbors, and they fell in love with him. They called themselves Team Morris. They shopped for him, took him to doctor’s appointments and cleaned his ears. When he was in the rehab yearning to die at home, they renovated his apartment to make it happen.
I worried that Uncle Morris didn’t love himself like we loved him. When he was 99, or maybe 101, I asked what he thought would happen after he was gone; an awkward attempt to begin one of those conversations about death and fear.
We were lying on his bed, watching TV. He closed his eyes.
“What do I think will happen after I’m gone?” he said. “A couple of months after I’m gone, no one will remember who I was.”
It’s been a more than a couple of months. Everyone who knew Uncle Morris remembers him.
Did you know Morris Shapiro? Share your memories in the comments section.