Cousin love, the sequel — a night out with Bob Felenstein

Thanks to Walter for emailing this report on the visit by cousin Marsha Fields to her ailing brother Robert Felenstein, who is recovering from his latest round of cancer treatments. It is shocking to see Bob looking frail, but you can see vitality in his bearing in the photo as he connects with his sister during a dinner out with family members. I wish I had been among them, and I intend to make it to New York for a visit soon.

I'll add further thoughts in the comments, but on to Walter's moving account.

Dear Cousins, spouses, children, grandchldren and assorted other loved ones,

First I owe Marsha and all of you an apology for sending you so belatedly this account of Marsha's wonderful visit to Robert in which Tanya and I participated, which happened last weekend. Last Saturday, Tanya and I joined Marsha in taking Rob, Jane and her mother Ruth (who is 83 and still plays golf and runs marathons) to a favorite restaurant of theirs on Merrick Road a few miles from their home. As you can see from the accompanying photos, Robert is quite frail and without hair from the chemo he has been getting the past 3 months, but the doctor has offered him some hope that the chemo may have greatly shrunk the tumor in his lung--Jane told me tonight that he will have a CAT scan this coming Monday and they will get the results by next Wednesday. I will stop out there on the morning of Thursday Aug 2 on my way out to Sandy and Mel to drive Mel to the WW2 Reunion in Rhode Island...Lets pray there is good news that day... 

In any case, I digress from the wonderful encounter we all had last weekend...It was emotionally uplifting beyond words to see the joy that Robert expressed and manifested to see and embrace his sister and to know that Marsha made the trip from Denver to be with him and give him so much love and compassion...It was clear to all at that dinner that Marsha's visit made a huge difference for him, is a hugely strengthening for him as he struggles with all of the indescribably difficult things he is going through right now.

It was fascinating to me to watch Robert and Marsha interact, to understand how similar is their warmth, sense of humor and wry outlook on the much of it an expression of their wonderful late mother Joan. Marsha and I really connected also--we have spent much too little time getting to know each other; which I hope is something we will now remedy. I might even get Marsha and Shelly involved in my crazy Muslim-Jewish activities, if we manage to an event up and running in Denver this fall...Marsha, will keep you posted on that... 

Anyway, I was left with the sense of what a lovely extended family we have, compact though it is; the Felensteins, Brenners and Rubys, and how good it is that we are reconnecting with each other, better late than never, but we should do much more of it. The wonderful work that Danny has done over the past six years in tabulating our Ruby Family History leaves me increasingly with a deeply spiritual sense of how we are all interconnected--the living and the dead--all the Tulbowitzes and Rabinowitzes going back more than 150 years--all of the precious history, mostly forgotten, that we have managed to dig up and bring back to life--life experience going back to forgotten shtetls in Latvia and Russia--all of their struggles, tragedies and joys and triumphs as they moved to America and found their feet and lived such diverse, fascinating lives and produced generation and generation, all of that coursing through history and producing and impacting each of us in ways that we are only dimly aware of. 

Life is a precious web--Charlotte's web--glistening with dew, fragile but radiant in the morning sun, and (to channel the Beatles), its all one and life goes on and on within you and without you. The next song on that album (was it Sgt Pepper?) as I recall was 'When I'm 64', which some of us have already reached and other are fast approaching..But its OK, because its a joy to be alive and taste every moment, be chol zot (in spite of eveything)....Anyway, I just want to say that I love you all, even if I dont know many of you all that well, which is something we should remedy as much as possible, so lets not be strangers, cousins and children and assorted life partners, lets bond to the maximum extent possible, because none of lasts forever. That wish goes out to all of you, to members of my generation and the one after that...So pass this message on  if any you would like, to assorted loved ones to family members whose e-mails I dont have, like Marsha's wonderful daughter Melissa and her kids and to Josh Funt and the rest of Wendy's chldren and grandchildren...and anyone else who feels appropriate... 

Nu, Walter, enough of the New Age sermons, already...Please all of you, keep Robert (and Jane too) in your hearts and prayers and we'll do everything we can on this end to pull him through...

Love, Walter  

P.S. sorry that several of the photos are blurry...


I know that Walter is visiting Robert again this morning, and I'll will send along all my warm wishes through him. Bob, I love you. Across the distance and even across the years. I know you are fighting hard to beat this thing. And showing grace in enduring the struggle.

From one Rabinowitz-Tulbowitz relation to another - both sharing the blessings and possible curse of our family history - our lives have meaning beyond the day-to-day concerns and occupations. Those we touch and that touch us have been changed in some way. We make our way in the world, and we leave our mark.

And if you ever doubt that, you won't believe what can turn up on the Internet .

Blessings to you and Jane for the fight you are making. I am so grateful that Walter has been able to be there on the scene for you. I feel so inadequate that I'm not able to be there too. Please know that I love you and am thinking of you daily.

Your cousin Danny

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