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STILL OUT ON A LIMB

David Greenglass is Dead

My brother called me in early July to tell me David Greenglass had died. I think Michael heard this from his daughter, Ivy, but I’m not sure how she found out. We’d known that Greenglass was ill, suffering from dementia in a nursing home, so we weren’t surprised.

We expected the press to ask us to comment, so we composed a statement, but did not release it. No obituary had appeared, and since his immediate family did not publicize his passing, we decided to follow their lead. We didn’t know his family, but we had nothing against them, and did not want to cause them any trouble.

As the weeks passed the lack of mention of Greenglass’s passing in the New York Times perplexed us. I wasn’t talking about it, but I heard the news through others, so by Labor Day it was hardly a secret.

In late September, I learned that Random House was about to publish a second edition of Sam Roberts’ book, The Brother, about David Greenglass. Sam is the New York Times reporter who covered news related to my parents’ case for decades. He had the financial misfortune of publishing the first edition in September 2001, when almost no one, particularly in the New York City area, was buying books.

Ah ha, I thought. That explains it. The Times will publish the Greenglass obit just after the new edition comes out, generating lots of free publicity for Sam Roberts. That is what happened, but Sam Roberts wrote in a blog in the Huffington Post that he didn’t know about Greenglass’ death in July. He explained that he occasionally monitored Greenglass’s status by calling the nursing home that housed him. He said when he called in September and learned Greenglass was no longer in residence, he realized David Greenglass had died.

Perhaps that’s true. You can decide which explanation is more likely.

My brother and I released our statement and a number of news outlets quoted from it. I received supportive notes from people who expressed the hope that I gotten some closure from Greenglass’s death. I think that concept is overused, especially when it comes to the death penalty. Prosecutors tell victims’ family members that an execution will give them closure.

But closure is a static concept, the antithesis of the dynamic process that is life. When applied to a death, closure for those still alive is an illusion. David Greenglass’s death gave me no sense of closure. I’ve lived with my parents’ case all my conscious life. I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve come to terms with it and I’ve done my best to make something good come out of it. But for me their case is never closed.
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