Mendel Letters 48 — Worried about Heaven

Heaven’s sorting program as envisioned by Michelangelo

September 25, 2021

Dear Mendel,

Warren and I were very glad when you started a relationship with Fay, a widow and our upstairs neighbor with five children of her own. We wanted a new mother and we liked the idea of having older step-brothers and sisters. The two of you waited three years to get married until some of her children married and moved out and there was space for us in her three-bedroom apartment.

But we did have three reservations which now seem very silly, but they concerned us very much as kids. First, we didn’t know if she would change her last name so we would be a family and if that would be fair to her kids. Second, we didn’t know what we should call her and we did not want to be disloyal to our first mother, Mommy. That problem was solved by one of our new step-sisters, Gloria, who suggested that we could call her “Mother” rather than Fay or Mommy.

But the third problem was much bigger in our eyes and we had no idea how it could be resolved. Remember we were 14 and 12 and had been raised to believe in God. Mommy was in heaven. When you died, who would you be married to in heaven, Mommy or Fay? And who would Fay be married to, you or her first husband who also had died and was in heaven. I thought about this a lot, really until I transitioned from believer to agnostic and then atheist. At sixteen, with no God or heaven, it no longer was a problem to obsess about.

It is a good thing I finally figured this out because after Fay died you move to Florida where you had three more long-term relationships before you finally died at the age of 94. That would have been a conundrum for God to sort out.

Before you died you made arrangements to be cremated and have your ashes shipped to me. My son and I tossed some off the Staten Island Ferry because that is where you often spent Sundays with Warren and me when I was a boy. We had a family memorial at my Brooklyn apartment and we put some of the ashes into the Prospect Park Lake. I sent a vial to Israel with Israeli relatives who were visiting. My step-brother Lennie took some to put in the bay by his Long Island home. When Lennie’s wife died, she was buried near my two mothers. The rest of your ashes we scattered over their two gravesites so in the end you got to be in “heaven” with both of them.

Your son

Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.

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Mendel Letters

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