If you take Highway 30 out of Portland, you'll head to the north-west along the Columbia river. You'll pass Linnton, with its fish sign and electronic speed signs flashing accusatory amber numerals, and the beautiful St. Johns Bridge. Keep going, and eventually you'll get to Scappoose, and then Saint Helens. Somewhere between Linnton and Scappoose, if you turn off to the left on one of the roads that lead up into the hills and then drive for 10 or 15 minutes, you'll get to where I used to work and live.
But if you're driving from Hillsboro, you don't take Highway 30 at all; instead, you head stright north, through the farm country of Helvetia. You go from silicon chips to cow chips in the blink of an eye. Even for someone who's not generally keen on driving, it's a beautiful trip.
I took off work a little early and got there at 4:30 sharp. Joseph, visiting from Israel, greeted me at the door and invited me in. Rodney came out a few minutes later. It's customary to hold a prayer service at the house of the mourner, but we didn't have the 10 men needed, so we headed out to the synagogue in Portland.
Rodney was doing as well as could be expected. He'd recently had a close-cropped haircut and a shave - probably last week he foresaw Chana's time coming, and took care of his grooming in advance of the mourning period, when one doesn't cut one's hair for 30 days. He managed the occasional smile, and alternated between muffled sobs and his trademark cackle. He told the same stories about himself and Chana that we'd all heard 1000 times - but, well, this was the time to tell them.
I am roughly intermediate in age between Rodney and Chana, and their grown children (who are in their 40s). I don't think I was ever really close with the old couple - they kept everyone at a distance. They were content to live on their hilltop and mingle as little as possible with the mere mortals below.
So it would not be true to say that I looked at them as parent figures. But I think you could say that my relationship with them was comparable to the relationship you might have with your parents, as you grow older and you reflect on both the good and the bad things you took away from your parents growing up.
I will not remember Chana and Rodney entirely with fondness. I'll say this about them, though - the paycheck might not have been so steady, but I am the richer for having known them.
At any rate, my business with them is done, and I've got my own life to get back to.