I am invited to attend a brunch at a nearby lodge, for a lineage society that I might want to join; when I get there – very, very late – everyone notices, because it’s a very small group. But the people are friendly, and when the formal meeting ends, I am introduced to each attendee, one by one.
One of the men, an older fellow, belongs to a men’s society that I know right away: The Departed belonged to it. I helped him assemble the paperwork and encouraged him to join, which he did. He liked to brag about his ancestors, which shouldn’t have annoyed me as much as it did – the whole point of these societies is that members have a certain amount of pride in their heritage, after all. But whenever a conversation turned to the subject of ancestors and societies, he would start talking, and in place of conversation there would soon be an uncomfortable silence.
The Older Fellow invites me to bring The Child to a large event his group is organizing in December. We trade contact information, and he emails the event information a few days later.
I call him to get some additional information, and when I do, mention that my ex-husband had been a member of his group.
Yes, I remember him, he says. I helped him with his application.
I hesitate, unsure how to ask my real question: Will he be at this event?
He only came to one meeting, The Older Fellow continues. He was sworn in. He was going to cancel his membership after the first year, but I called him and persuaded him to continue to another year. After that he dropped his membership. But he only came the one time.
Are you sure we mean the same person? I ask.
Yes, I remember him. One of the members was friends with his uncle, they used to be pilots together.
That’s exactly right, I remember.
But I remember something else, too: I remember The Departed putting on his suit jacket one Saturday morning each month, and getting in his car, saying he was going to their meeting.