Here’s one of the reasons I’m going: It’s this picture my grandmother sent to her husband to introduce his son, my father. Malcha was pregnant when her husband, Hersch, got his papers for America. So he went ahead to The Bronx to set things up. Bummy (Avraham) was eight months old in 1927 when she took him to the photo studio. It would be four years until the family was back together. Bummy never quite got over the shock of meeting his father for the first time. When I read Call It Sleep I wondered if Henry Roth’s story was my father’s.
I love the way my grandmother grips my father with her fingers. Until the day she died in 1990, age 93, her fingers retained that power. Her fingers are a recurring motif of my memories.