I had my regular Thursday psycho therapy (two words) this morning. My therapist and I have been seeing each other for well-over 20 years. I like to joke that I’ve had so much therapy in my life, I am actually featured on the 12 pfenning Austrian stamp.
We were talking, as we do, two men who have known each other for a large part of our adult lives. Two old men who are growing older together. When you’re old, chronologically anyway, you run out of age peers to talk to. So many of my long-ago friends have scattered to the winds, and in an agency—where I spend so much of my time—I sometimes feel as anachronistic as an IBM Selectric typewriter, and therefore, alone.
In any event, pertaining to what we were talking about, my therapist reminded me of a joke I had told him many years before. I’ll retell that joke here:
An old Jewish man is lying on his deathbed. He’s lived a long life, and a good one. He’s been married 59 years and has a loving helpmeet of a wife.
It’s coming to an end, he knows, and that’s ok. His life has been a good one. As he lay in bed waiting for the final close of his eyes, he has no regrets.
All at once, he smells a smell emanating from his wife’s newly renovated and obscenely expensive kitchen. It is a smell that is to aroma what ambrosia was to the tastebuds of the gods.
A son comes in, for a final kiss.
“Your mother is making apple strudel,” the old man says. “There’s nothing in the world I love more than apple strudel. Tell your mother that before I die—“
“Before I die,” he mumbled. “Before I die, a small piece of your mother’s strudel I would like. A small piece.”
Thinking about the strudel, the old man brightened. The film on his wizened eyes seemed to evaporate. His lips formed into a smile.
The son came back in the room two minutes later.
“You have for me a piece of strudel?”
“No. Mom wants me to tell you, she’s saving it for the Shiva.”