I don't know where he got his money, but obviously he managed.
When Washington had street cars, Uncle would take me and
Mariana to see the statues around the city. The statues at the
U.S. Capitol come to mind, though I'm sure he must have taken
us elsewhere for other sights. Tita Souri was not pleased with
these outings; she must have felt her brother was an inadequate
guardian. My mother must have known Uncle Nestoss had taken
us, so Tita's rebuke was twofold. His clothes seemed to be the
same: white shirt, beige vest with matching trousers and
suspenders. His style of shoes evades me.

 
 

This thin, quiet, old man, who seemed tall to me, but probably wasn't; who apparently was born old, died in Keart's restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. when I was 10 or 11. My mom cried on the phone at the news, though I did not know she cared about him so much. My Tita Souri was inconsolable, rocking back and forth in her grief. They were brother and sister after all. His going placed a void in her life. His death was the first real death I was aware of, and the actions of the adults around me was instructive. People, who seemed in control and whose lives controlled mine, were vulnerable and lost control. Uncle Nestoss died while sitting in a restaurant booth. Someone sitting across the table from him thought he had bowed his head forward and fallen asleep. His passing left an empty back room, which eventually became mine, much to my delight. Thieves had apparently discovered the whereabouts of our house, and the day of Uncle Nestoss' funeral, through the obituaries. My mother was the first to come home; she may have attended just the church service and returned early with the intent of setting up the Meal of Mercy at the house.


Tita Souri
 
 
 

When she came in through the back door, she said she saw a black man descending the back stairs to the kitchen. That was enough to send her screaming out into the alley toward 12th street. The police responded to a call that a woman was being attacked. No such thing occurred.

<< Page 3 >>