Homeward Bound

Jan. 12, 2005 10:56 a.m.
New York City

Before getting on the train in Grand Central Station, I look up the schedule on the Web and write the departure and return times down on an index card. I buy the Times, Harpers, The Atlantic, three cheese danishes and a quart of milk, but spend the entire ride with a new gadget, a BlackBerry, sending off what seem to be very long e-mails, especially when you write them with two thumbs. The milk was a mistake...its soporific effect would kick in just when I entered the overly-warm apartment.

It was a $4 cab ride from Harrison station to Rye Manor, what the old folks home is called. Later my aunt would ask how much the cab ride cost. She has been in the building for 18 years. In the elevator she said the day before had been 24 years since her mother had died. She saw things in years, lots of years.

Usually we go out to lunch, but she had come from the doctor and was following a special regimen on two sheets of paper which she gave me to look at. It said things like "eat seven portions of grain a day" and "don't eat right before bed." She held the paper like it was something very valuable which if followed would keep her safe.

The TV is directly in front of the couch. FOX News was on. When she gets up in the morning she turns it on. She always knew where I was.

She had a new Honda civic. We went for a ride around Rye. I drove, backing up slowly out of the lot. We drove by the firehouse, the point, my friend Adam's house, the house where I grew up. It looked small. We went up Stuyvesant Avenue. I used to think that was where the rich people lived. My aunt asked several times if I liked the car. She said she would will it to me.

There are red buttons on the doors to the old folks home. You press the button and the door swings open. There were four or five people sitting in folding chairs near the window. My aunt asked if I wanted to say hello. I said sure.

For a moment there was a swing in her step.

"This is my nephew," she said.

I leaned down and shook the men's hands. I walked her back to her apartment, then went back to the city.

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Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.