Eugene’s Genetics – Chapter SIX
Geenie pulled up in front of the home of Gertrine Rust. She was a little early but wanted to make sure she made it before Coleen. It was nice enough for her to make the effort to come, so Geenie didn’t want to botch it from being late, or worse, making Coleen feel out of place. Geenie already spoke ahead to Coleen so now all she had to do was wait. She resisted anything typically associated with grief and threw together something between a Christmas and Easter service if someone was to wear their ‘Sunday best’ as it were. It felt odd, but Coleen assured her. Maybe the real out of sorts feeling was just having to dress nice and above what she usually had on. Or these shoes on her feet didn’t fit like she last remembered they had. It wasn’t long before a pair of headlights crooked around the street and passes slowly by Geenie. There was plenty of light still, but maybe it was another way to show it was Coleen. Neither of them have the friends or social thing down again, so maybe at this point it still felt as a secret club for them.
The reflections off glasses were enough of a sign it was Coleen, but she made a little gesture with her fingers, just above the bottom of her window, to prove it for Geenie.
They met on the curb and Coleen was carrying an object which she dismissed as no biggie since she knew there was a Kosher bakery in the area. She looked much different from her usual workplace environment. She shed her black clothes and wore something dressed down but fashionable, down to a strappy shoe with enough of a heel to bump her height a slight bit. She wore a silvery necklace which shimmered a Hebrew symbol of some sort, but Geenie remembered seeing it before from either houses she traveled to with Colin or even in Gertrine’s home a time or two. What topped off Coleen however was her hair. The braids were shed, and the memory of them stayed ingrained amongst her hair; creating flourishes of waves and body.
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” Geenie breathed out. I’m good.”
“Just walk right it, ok? And make sure to greet his mom as soon as you get the chance, since in shiva the mourners have to be acknowledged first. All right?”
Geenie nodded yes and Coleen’s face had a satisfactory look on it.
They entered without abandon and Geenie slowly moved her eyes about; panning across the room. Coleen found the path to the kitchen and walked it hastily. Geenie observed a group amongst Mrs. Rust who all sat in a line on small stools. Geenie stayed just out of sight since they were already speaking with someone.
Geenie was thinking about the conversation with Coleen on her cell phone; it was basically a rapid fire (to her mind) lesson on what to do or expect. Geenie didn’t even remember much of it until she actually observed the surroundings. Coleen said just Geenie being there would be enough so anything else which might otherwise look as a faux pax would be ignored. Geenie remembered something about the low chairs or floor and it being symbolic of a recognition of being below God or humbled. She also remembered Coleen’s words on a greeting – she didn’t have to offer what most usually say at a funeral or “even play the II don’t know’ card with a gesture.”
Geenie was enough in earshot to hear – or piece together – Coleen speaking with someone in the kitchen taking whatever it was she brought. “My name is Coleen, and I brought this pareve because of your loss of Colin. It is marked from Geenie Swaboda, who is my friend.”
The people who were near the group and Gertrine were leaving just as Coleen made it back to Geenie.
“Don’t be nervous. Come on,” she said while giving a slight hip check; which nobody else could notice. They made their way forward and Geenie quickened her step as soon as she met with Gertrine’s sad eyes.
“Hello, Gertrine…” Geenie gave the greeting literally with outstretched arms. The hug from Geenie hid the inward sigh she took to help hold some of her emotion back. “I am so sorry about Colin. I just don’t know what to say.”
“Thank you very much, Gigi.” They release from the embrace as she adds, “It was very nice of you to pay your respects to respects to Colin this way.”
Coleen steps forward to make her presence known. She takes Gertrine’s right hand with both hands carefully and speaks.
“I am very sorry to hear about the loss of Colin. This must be very difficult for you.”
“Thank you, yes” Gertrine tries to hold both women in her line of sight while Geenie remains silent.
“My name is Coleen Gold and I am friends with Geenie. She has spoken about Colin to me and I wanted to be here in your time.”
“That is so sweet of the both of you, for bringing your friend to see me Gigi.”
“May we?” Coleen asks while gesturing to the ground.
“Please, please…” answers Gertrine.
Coleen helps Geenie sit then kneels herself.
“I should have introduced myself properly. I am Gertrine. Colin’s mother of course.”
“Thank you. The pleasure is mine,” says Coleen. “Did you recite Kaddish?”
“The minyan was here earlier, thanks. I am sorry you couldn’t have joined us.”
“I apologize for making Geenie late, but I wanted to pay respects to Colin.”
Geenie nods along, remembering from Coleen part of the custom is to repeat the name of the person for the exercise of not forgetting the dead. It was also proper to keep steering the conversation back to the deceased. “Mrs. Rust. I loved Colin and remember so many good times we had here in your home. We would always laugh a lot when thinking back on all the times we spent here on holidays, and even back when we were kids.”
“You were always Colin’s favorite playmate here,” she recalls in fondness. “It might have been just because it was your temperament, but you were the only one to mind your manners while here. The other boys? They would get Colin into some mighty what? Trouble,” She laughed with somberness.
“Geenie never told me how long she was friends with Colin.”
“Oh…” she remarks to Coleen. “I would joke to Colin they were friends longer than they weren’t. It took a long time before they saw more then friendship I think, however. Gigi?”
Geenie laughs to herself and agrees. “Probably when Colin was heading to college was when we thought of it.” She shifts gears to announce, “You were always a family to me already so I never considered it.”
“You to me as well, Gigi.” Gertrine made a silly scrunched up face to tease how strong her feelings were. “You and your mother, both. A darling woman. Colin always raved about her.”
“Yeah… My mom said a lot of nice things about him too. She will miss him a lot, just as me.”
Coleen fidgets with her back and asks, “Can you help me a moment?”
Geenie unknowingly stands up and reaches out to Coleen’s hands, bringing her back to your feet.
“It was very nice to have us into your home, Gertrine. But it’s going to be too late for us.”
“Oh I understand completely. You are a very nice girl, Coleen. I am sorry this is the way Colin got us to meet up once again.”
“I know… But I am happy to be here and hear more about Colin.”
“Geenie probably tell her stories about him as well as you.”
“Please. She is just too what? Polite of young lady. Isn’t that right, Geenie?”
“I…” Her sheepish smile of slight embarrassment is enough of an answer.
“There is something from Geenie in the kitchen, by the way. I hope it was something you and Colin enjoy.”
“Maybe if you let her, Geenie can come by earlier tomorrow. Then I won’t keep her help up.”
“I really would love that, Gertrine.”
“Sure, sure. Anytime you are welcome. You and your mother, sweetie.”
“Thank you again for having us in your home to honor Colin,” Coleen added with a slight dip in her knee to unconsciously give the slightest curtsey. She touches the side of Gertrine’s arm and recites, “Ha-makom yenakhem Tzion v’Y’rushalayim.”
“Why aren’t you sweet,” Gertrine says with emotion.
“Thank you again, Gertrine,” Geenie says; hugging and adding, “I’m sorry about Colin and miss him so much.”
As if the magic words were said, Gertrine releases her embrace and Geenie silently walks away with Coleen. It was customary not to spend very long with the family, and Geenie didn’t wish to prolong the moment any longer by lingering in the house. The memories, like walls, were closing in on her.