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ROSE’S WILL by Denise DeSio



MY NAME IS Eli Fineman. I am a Bulgarian Holocaust survivor, a childless man, and a dabbler in the stock market. Eli is a Hebrew name. It means to elevate. Since I am a loafer by nature, I must push myself to make the effort.

After a lifetime of shirking my academic requirements, I finally received my Bachelor of Arts degree from Brooklyn College at the age of sixty-two. Today, at seventy-two, I am proud to say that I am an educated man. I savor the sound of it on my lips. Most people respect me for it but I am not bothered one bit by those who scoff and ask, “Eli, what will you do with a degree in philosophy and a minor in Ancient Roman Civilization?” I say that it is not so much what I have learned, but that I have learned to learn.

Oddly, if you look into my accounts, you will find three million dollars. I earned it doing this and that, but my money is not who I am. When I step back to look at my life, I see a rich man who has nothing, an educated man who knows little, and an old man who will carry the green of youth into the grave — which may or may not be soon with my diabetes. But who knows? On Wednesday I will have my cataracts removed. Perhaps on Thursday someone will find a cure for my other ailments.

I will be happy to recover my vision, although there are some things I am able to see that cannot be perceived with the eye. I can look inside of people. Sometimes it is a good thing, and other times it can get a man into trouble. When I looked inside of Rose, I found a little of both.

From the first minute I saw her at the Kings Highway Senior Center, I lost interest in other women. She was round, substantial, not easy to be broken. Years of labor showed on her broad, olive hands. Her thick, sturdy fingers clutched a purse tightly to her body. With the other hand, she passed around delicacies from her kitchen. Her eyes, oh her eyes, were so expressive, so full of thoughts that other women hide. When Rose walked into the room, everything shifted — one way or the other.

Rose enjoyed telling people what to do. She would stop everything to help them, but heaven forbid if they didn’t

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