Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Shake Hands with My Uncle Max

One of the first things that drew me to the music of Allan Sherman, besides the fact that Dad really liked his stuff, was a song entitled "Shake Hands with Your Uncle Max." I was in wonderment at how Sherman could know about my Uncle Max! I eventually concluded that everyone must have an Uncle Max, but I think mine was more of a hugger than a hand-shaker.

I adored Max, always looking forward to trips to my "ancestral spawning grounds" and the house in Nyack wherein he and my Aunt Kenie had lived since before I was born. Happy memories of visiting that house are practically imprinted into my DNA. And it was all because of Kenie and Max and their children, my cousins Mara (whom I still worship; we're the only two girls among my generation of "Friedman cousins") and Jeff. The photo below, taken at Mara's son Micah's graduation party a few years ago, is how I usually picture Max in my mind's eye.

The last time I saw Uncle Max was at my brother Jay's house early last month. Last evening he passed away, and I'll miss him more than I can say. He and my Dad were two of a kind in many ways. Members of my family are certain that they're together now, somewhere, talking about the stock market, just as they're probably doing in this photo:

Yes, that was taken at the Nyack house. I'm glad I didn't listen to Dad and Uncle Max when they kept saying (as I recall) "What are you taking so many pictures? Put the camera away."