Lard and Oysters

They see Emma, their mother, every weekend. They play tennis for an hour at the Mayfair Club on Chesswood Street—an hour that is increasingly an indirect and merciless measure of their age—and then they see Emma. They don’t remember when they began to call her Emma, but it was a very long time ago, long before they came to Canada, probably during their early high school days. She had been quite a strapping woman then, tireless, shrewd, keeping the family afloat. It was expected of her and she did it quietly, without complaining. Their father was always at work—six, sometimes seven days a week. He would come home late in the evening, eat, and then snooze in an armchair with a book fallen open on his knees. Prodded by Emma, he would ramble off to bed and would be snoring a few minutes after switching the night lamp on, the same book fallen off, his glasses still on. He had his moments of exuberance—he liked dinner parties with friends, good food, a few drinks—but work and worries had sapped him dry. He worried about work. He worried about being a Jew and about being demoted.