A.M. Juster: ‘For Bayara Manusevitch’

For Bayara Manusevitch

for being the only woman to survive Stalin, Hitler and the Harvard tenure process;

for her Armenian father, shot as “an enemy of the people”;

for her unthreatening first husband, shot as a threat;

for her third husband, a violinist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra;

and not so much for her second husband, whose existence we discovered from her obituary;

for persuading Senator John F. Kennedy to help her mother gain freedom from the Soviet Union;

for her dingy walls littered with framed photographs of writers and musicians;

for decades of widowhood and hours on her porch listening to symphony after symphony;

for luring our springers onto her lap with carrots and gentle words;

for that tenacious cat who adopted her with his owner’s permission;

for, when she fell or needed to be freed from her elevator, the way she greeted the men and women of the Belmont police and fire departments like guests;

for her mournful looks as her Italian slipped away, which left her with only three languages;

for publishing a memoir to kick off her second century;

for the grit and joy of her every day.

A.M. Juster

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