Mother’s Day Weekend

Dear Mom:

I miss you and, just between us, Mother’s Day is really all about you.

But CLSFOB (camp/law school FOB) helped me reach an epiphany.  We were talking before the weekend (she, too, is a mom) and she wished me a happy Mother’s Day.

I, of course, responded:

“It is about my mom and she is gone.”

“Wow, so [SOS] doesn’t celebrate you or anything?  It is just a sad day?”

“Well, I didn’t mean it that way…”

SIDEBAR:  Ok, yes, yes, I did.

“But he should be able to celebrate!! Does he feel the heaviness?”

SIDEBAR: OK, CLSFOB, I get it.  Sheeeesh.  I should introduce you to SNOBFOB. 

“Move on, Counselor, you’ve made your point.”

I was getting testy because CLSFOB hit a chord.  But she was right.  

So, this weekend, I have tried to be more open to taking my position as MOM on Mother’s Day. And it feels good.  Ok, not so good, but better than I thought.  But I am not going to say that CLSFOB is right again.  Nope.  Not gonna do that.

To tell you the truth, I feel a little like a mom with Dad.  And I think SOB does, too.

I had the “Dad call” this weekend.  SOB was in the ICU and saving lives (just not ours).  So, I had lunch with Dad on Saturday and we all went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today.

I chronicle the days so BOB and SOB feel like they were there.  The emails are entitled “This Day in Dad”:

“Dear [SOB] and [BOB]:

I had lunch with Dad today. Dad tried to hide those scam solicitations [that target the elderly] from me when I picked him up. But I commenced a search and rescue mission with critical help from [home aide]. I rescued Dad from an entire shopping bag’s worth of scams and shams. In the midst of the junk, there were important papers. Aaargh.

We may need new night people. They do nothing apparently and Dad cleans up after them. They don’t help him with personal hygiene. That’s a big part of the job.  But, I don’t know if I can deal with trying out new people.  I am tired just thinking about that process.

Worked up an appetite by the time we got to the Coffee Shop of the Undead. I ordered a large Greek salad and a hamburger deluxe and the waiter asked if we expecting another person. I replied that I am quite hungry and quite capable of finishing both before my companions finished their meals. I didn’t disappoint.

Dad wondered why Sam wasn’t at the coffee shop.  I had a moment:  was Sam no longer UNdead?  But, phew, it turns out that he is still alive, but failing unfortunately.

We had a perfectly lovely lunch. After I left, he handed [home aide] a sweepstakes envelope with a check in it to mail. He didn’t want me to see it. So he is not as clueless as everyone thinks. She called me and I told her not to mail it.

Then, because I am a glutton for punishment, I went to ULOB’s bank branch to get more information for AROB’s nephew so he can have a proper paper trail of what was transferred to ULOB when AROB died.  I get why he is stressed out but I really want to introduce him to some “chill” meds.  Now I feel bad thinking that because it turns out he was spending the day with AROB’s newly discovered UNdead sister in the psychiatric facility.  He is a good and kind man. I am not as good and kind.

End of Report.

Love, [Blogger]”

Of course, these emails engender discussion:  BOB wants me to take away his checks (I did that once before and he just went to the bank and got more) because he can’t discern good charities from bad ones and he likes to enter sweepstakes. BOB worries that Dad is well intentioned but vulnerable and impaired.  SOB observes (correctly) that he likes to feel generous with charities but maybe he will accept some oversight (not so confident about this part of the assessment).  I think that he really needs to conserve resources but I cannot take away his checks but I don’t want him to think he is running out of money.  Too emasculating.  With no more emails flying, the debated ends.  Because I have the final say (for now), I render a reasoned decision (for now).

Decision for the day (mine):  We continue to run a loose ship, with BOB dissenting.  I have no extra time to be the enforcer.  It will not be perfect.  It just has to work.  Most of the time.  We will review the status quo weekly and re-calibrate as necessary. Signed, [Blogger], President of Dad, Inc.

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Today, we had a great time at the Met.  SOS walked a lot with Dad.  They are quite bonded.  I can imagine how happy you would be seeing them together.

After the Met, we went to a coffee shop that just doesn’t cater to the Undead.  What a nice change in scenery, but the turn-over in big tables was not as fast.  At this coffee shop, the patrons probably buy green bananas.

********************************************************************************************

So, after almost 11 years, this was my first Mother’s Day where I accept wearing that mantle.  I will never forget you on Mother’s Day or on any other day, ever.  It is just that being mom to SOS and in loco parentis to Dad may entitle me to an honorable mention today and a little celebration.  Then, again, SOS didn’t make cards, so I tortured him and now I am not such a good mom.

I love you,

Blogger

Uh, oh, another “Dear Mom” blog

Dear Mom:

I know you are watching the events as they unfold down here on Earth.  Dad is remarkable in the ability of his body to heal so quickly — and just days shy of his 92nd birthday.  Ok, the mind is another thing.  That is a bit of a mixed bag.

Dad’s week has been packed with life and all of its emotions, from heart-breaking to uplifting, from triumph to quiet desperation, from funny to painful indignity.  And we, the kids, whether in person or on the telephone, have been on the ride along with him.

We went from feelings of sheer terror in taking Dad for a walk around the block (would he fall?) to POB’s dancing with Dad in the house to the sublime — a soft shoe routine in the supermarket, he with his cane (and his home aide ready to catch him) and I with a new mop that we desperately needed.  But later he couldn’t get up from the table without help and was dizzy, so he needed a long recuperative nap.  So, we will do soft shoe when we can, but we aren’t ready to go on the road. We do what he can do and no more.

We spent days going through pictures, reminding him of the family.  He is getting really good at this.  He remembers you, without any sort of coaxing.  One of his home aides told me that Dad talks about you and how he is still married to you and still in love with you, no matter that you died 10 years ago.  He told her the secret — that you appear somewhere in all his paintings.  He knows your spirit lives in the house.  And, of course, your portrait remains as evidence that this is your home.

In a weird way, I think that the home aides are a blessing.  Dad can talk to them all day.  Now I realize what life has been like for Dad these last few years.  If Dad can’t go to the studio to sculpt (he hasn’t been able to for a few months) and he isn’t with us on the weekends, the days between are deafening silent and slow.  I wanted to cry for his loneliness.  But now he sings for his home aides, offers them a cocktail (which they refuse) and the house has noise.

But there are hard moments.  Moments filled with the indignity of aging and a child having to care for a parent as if he were a baby.  And, when he is discombobulated, the air seems to fill with a toxin that hurts my lungs.  There are also less profound crises, like the day there were no bananas for breakfast and Dad was not strong enough to go to the store or be left alone.  Imagine, a reasonably successful New York lawyer unable to answer client emails because she has to bring bananas for breakfast.  Still, he asked, “how much a pound did you pay?”  “Before or after I add in the cost of the cab to hand deliver these to you, Dad?”

At least today, there was levity amidst the crazy talk.  Aunt Glue and Cousins J and K came to visit.  Aunt Glue and Dad were both a little off, but they enjoyed their conversation.  The rest of us didn’t quite understand the conversation, but I tried to let go of reality and roll with it.  Cousin J tried to correct Aunt Glue’s somewhat vague statement, and I asked her, “at this table, what does it matter?”

Aunt Glue and Dad, the remnants of our greatest generation, stronger in body than in mind, gained fortitude and joy from each other’s presence.  Aunt Glue is the only one alive who knows to call Dad by his original, Yiddish, name, Nachum.  “So, Nachy”, she said, “tell me all.”  I wanted to live in that moment because she has said that in the same way for as long as I have been alive (and longer), when they were strong and infallible and blazing the frontier.  When Dad was Dad and you were alive.

At least Dad has you, always.  As do we, your children.  But, in these moments, I wonder why I had to grow up.  I love you, Mom.  And I love Dad, come what may.

Love, Blogger

 

 

 

Of Blessed Memory

Mighty (a Soeur of Blogger) gave me a hankerchief to hold during the wedding ceremony. 

I really needed it when the rabbi mentioned our mothers being with us in spirit, and most especially during the reading of the Ketubah.  For the wedding contract, it is customary to refer to the betrothed in relation to her parents, as in:  

“[Blogger], daughter of [MOB] of blessed memory and [DOB]”.

Of blessed memory.  Only here in spirit.  Only cosmic tears of joys from MOB on her daughter’s wedding day because she is of blessed memory.

POB didn’t want to have a picture of her mom out during the reception, so I didn’t have one of MOB.  But SOB promised to bring the portable shrine to our mother, in case we needed to reflect and weep. 

I thought about MOB all day and just knowing that the portable shrine was in the room made me fine without needing to look, touch and feel the pictures of MOB.

Of blessed memory.  Gone but never forgotten.

A Present From My Son

POB, SOS and I were walking along the Hudson River this evening, talking about the upcoming wedding.

SOS started speaking haltingly, not knowing whether to raise a topic.

“Tell us what’s on your mind, buddy.”

“It’s a surprise.  For the day of the wedding.”

Uh oh, I thought.  I don’t need surprises at our wedding.

SOS noted my deep breath.  “I can tell you but you need to act surprised on the day.”

“Sure, bud, tell us.”

“I can tell you in clues and hints.”

Okay, he is reading too many detective books.  “How about starting with a big one?” I offer helpfully.

“It will happen in the morning before we leave the house.”

My sigh of relief was heard ’round the world — no surprises AT the wedding.

“That will have to be really early, then, because we have to leave for our hair and make-up appointments,” cautioned POB.

“That’s not a problem.  Just leave out the fruits you like.  Actually, if you could fill up the blender with fruits, yogurt and the protein stuff and then leave it in the refrigerator the night before, that would be great.”

Ok, so SOS is making us breakfast in bed — as long as we make it.

Sidebar:  I have visions of a future of “happy birthday, E-Mom, I got you a present.  I charged it on your card.”

“Bud, that is terrific.  SOooo sweet of you.  Mommy will set up the coffee maker.   Remember to push the button, ok?”

“I can do that.”

“You know, buddy, it sounds like a GREAT surprise.”

My new trainer

My fitness trainer abruptly left the gym and I think the city about ten days ago.  I am worried about him.  But enough about him, let’s turn it back to me, because I need Michelle Obama arms for my wedding.

He texted me and suggested one of the other trainers whom I will call FTOB (fitness trainer of blogger).  FTOB is very, how shall we say, vivacious.  She spontaneously lifts people off the floor when she is happy.  She likes to take dance breaks, which makes me think of the Ellen DeGeneres’s show (the episode I saw) during which she danced with her guests. 

Still, the clock was ticking and I have an unforgiving dress.  I called FTOB and scheduled an appointment.  She is high energy and very effective.  But while I was learning from FTOB, I had to teach her two things: (i) I don’t have a booty and (ii) I don’t have ta-tas.  As to the first, I have a tushie, behind, derriere, butt or any number of variations of those words.  As to the second, I have breasts, a chest or, if necessary, boobs. 

No-no-no to ta-tas.

FTOB was awesome about this.  The second session contained no references to the “b” or the “t” words.  Strong work, FTOB.

FTOB has a FauxHawk (modified Mohawk, where the the sides aren’t shaved, just very short).  In this last session, her hair was slicked back and it looked like it was all one length.  “I love your hair!!” I exclaimed, almost matching her general exuberance.  “You think so?  It got wet and I gelled it back.  I am getting it cut soon.”  Ahhh, it was only a temporary NoHawk. 

So, in a moment that can best be described as my mother inhabiting my body, I blurted out, “You know, I asked [my old trainer] once to introduce us, because I wanted to say to you, ‘You have such a lovely face, why do you have your hair cut that way?'” 

“Really?”

“A good haircut can make all the difference,” I said.

I think we were both shocked at the exchange and I was a little weirded out having had a Freaky Friday moment with my mother in my body.  And FTOB is so good natured that she took it in the spirit in which it was meant — concern.

It turns out she has a girlfriend who likes her hair.  “Well, then, don’t listen to me; listen to her.  But if you are single again, listen to me.”

Oh, Mom, next time, give me some warning, ok?

This day in Bloggerville

Forgive me, Joni Mitchell.  But it is my birthday and I can’t help but fixate on my mother (z”l) and these ten birthdays since she died, so I made up a verse:

♪ And the seasons, they go ’round and ’round . . .♬  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5HXT0bn7QY

♪Ten birthday cakes and candles come ‘n gone now,
brown hair has turned to gray hair ’round her crown.
She is joyful, even happy ‘though not completely,
’cause Mom won’t see her in her wedding gown.♬
 
♪ And the seasons, they go ’round and ’round . . .♬ 
 
The Blogger family 1966 (I was 2).

 

Dear Mom:

Ten wishes on ten birthday cakes that will never come true.

Every year on your birthday, SOB recounts what you said on your last one, December 11, 2002: “if only my wish could come true . . . ”  I get it.  Hope, reined in by reality.

Dad remembered to call (SOB reminded him).

Remember my short-lived practice of sending you a “thank you” note on my birthday?  The first year, you thought it was very clever.  And then, as you did every year, you launched into the apocryphal story of my noble birth.

SOB and HOSOB sent flowers.  I am giving SOB the silent treatment because I told her to focus on her re-certification exam tomorrow and that she was excused from familial obligations.  If SOB doesn’t realize that I am giving her the silent treatment, I will wait until exactly one minute after her exam to tell her.  It is the least I could do for my big sister.

BOB sent me a positively hysterical email:

“Hope you are having a good day. Maybe you are even playing hooky from work, having a leisurely breakfast with [POB], planning to have lunch with [SOS], getting a relaxing workout in or nap after lunch, then go out to a nice sushi dinner and enjoy a nice glass of wine, read with [SOS] at bedtime, and watch an old movie before drifting off to a relaxing night sleep… or NOT. You are probably getting worn out by some asshole lawyer or ungrateful client and worrying about getting paid or getting business. The life of a lawyer.

Seriously, I hope you do get to enjoy your day. We are all looking forward to coming up in a few weeks. Everyone here sends love and hugs.

I love you,

[BOB]by”

BOB nailed it. Very funny and very true tableau of life as a lawyer.  But actually I did take the day off, because you and the wedding loom large on my birthday and I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.

This is our unique day; we were one, and then we were two.  48 years ago, I emerged from you, cranky and crying.  plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.  That’s what POB would say if I said this to her.  Yep, she’s right.

I blew out one candle for me and lit another (a Yahrzeit candle) for you.  Because this is our day.

Now that you are gone, I carry you inside of me.  (Just so you know, you are looking slim in our wedding dress.)

I love you,

Blogger

The Old Neighborhood

I grew up in the East 50s near Sutton Place.  DOB still lives there.  Most times, he likes to come see us on the Upper West Side — “The travel gives me a way to pass a few extra hours,” DOB says.

Nevertheless, every now and again we take out our passports and travel to the East Side for lunch.  DOB has started to favor a coffee shop closer to the house.  I think because the old coffee shop is three blocks away and down a hill.

When we were seated, an old man next to us asked if we were new to the neighborhood.  “Our family has lived here for over 50 years!” I replied jovially (at least I thought so).  The old man said, “I was just going to tell you what’s good,” and then he sighed in that loud annoying way to show he was exasperated and feeling under-appreciated even though his help was unsolicited.  Or, maybe I yelled at him, “What’s it to you, bud?”  Of course, I didn’t but you would think so based on the tone of his response.

Wow, I thought, the old neighborhood has gotten cranky with age.  Maybe because all of my parents’ contemporaries (who are still alive) have grown old and cranky in the old neighborhood.

Shortly after we shut down that random act of neighborliness gone horribly wrong, I saw an old (old) friend of my parents walk in the door.  He was with his female companion of 30 years or so.  Our families had gone to the same synagogue and we kids went to Hebrew School with his daughter.

I immediately got up and went over to greet them. They thought I was SOB because they said that they see her on the street when she visits Dad, implying that I am never around.  I paused, counted backwards from 10 and determined that they didn’t mean it the way it sounded.  Except, they certainly did mean it the way it sounded.

Sidebar:  As nice as this man is — he really is — he took me aside at a gathering shortly before my mother died and after having met POB, “make your father happy; find a man.”  But back to the situation at hand.

There were so many ways to handle this affront to my being a good and attentive daughter:

  • I could dredge up ancient gossip and unpleasant truths about his long ago divorce.  Nah, that is too aggressive.
  • I could just smile.  Nah, too passive.
  • I could be could let slip that Dad usually comes over on Sunday nights for a home-cooked dinner.  Ahhhh, passive yet aggressive.  Perfect.

Sidebar:  Don’t you love when being passive-aggressive is the reflection of your best impulses?  So, so, rewarding.

I did let that fact slip using a tone that suggested that his daughter never cooked for him.

“You must be a good cook!”

Really, that’s your response?  That’s all you got for me after my exhaustive mental gymnastics to figure out how to preserve my dignity and protect my mother’s pride in her children?  Really?

There were two other people whom Mom knew who walked in during the course of our lunch.  But I was too exhausted to go over and say hi.

 

Good Medicine

I have been sick this week.  I stayed home one full day (Tuesday) and, by this afternoon (Friday), it was clear I was not recovered.  My colleagues even told me to go home.  The COB even cheerfully took over responsibility for some thankless and unglamorous tasks so that I could just go home and climb into bed.  A true colleague.  Our assistant, who usually tortures me in that negative affection type of way, was actually kind and looked worried.  I must have looked bad.

I came home and collapsed into bed.  I was almost immediately overcome with the need to sleep.  As I was dozing, I half-dreamed of being sick as a kid.

Mom would hug me and say, “my poor tsatskele [Yiddish endearment], if I could have this for you, I would!”  Then she would kiss my forehead to check for fever.  Then she would direct me to my bed.  And to be doubly sure that I didn’t have a fever, Mom would get one of those mercury thermometers (on the list of pre-1980 household hazards) doused in rubbing alcohol (for sterilization) and tucked under the tongue.

“Tea and toast and rest” was the basic remedy.  If needed, I could have aspirin and, at night, cough suppressant. Mom would set up the vaporizer — that contraption that made steam heat and bred bacteria — to clear my clogged sinuses.  Ok, maybe a little Vaseline on my chapped nose and lips, but Mom was very cautious about its use. When she was young, there were instances when sick babies who suffocated because mothers applied Vaseline too liberally in their babies’ noses.

Throughout the course of my cold, she administered loving hugs and kisses liberally and got up every few hours during the night to touch my cheek and make sure all was ok.

There weren’t many over-the-counter products then to relieve cold symptoms.  But my mother would have had none of that.   If it was just a head cold to suffer through, a little extra tender loving care (and tea and toast) was medicine enough.

Mom was a working professional, so if any of us was sick during the week, Leta, our nanny, would be in charge.  But Mom lingered in the mornings, and came home early. Dad also canceled his last patient so he could be on hand for the evening love-not-drugs fest.

Leta was no slouch when it came to smothering us with love, under any circumstance.  And when one of us was sick, she outdid herself.  Leta would pour half a cup of sugar in the tea because she thought it was heartless of Mom and Dad to ration sugar (my Dad was a dentist, after all).  And she prescribed sucking candy (a banned substance in our house) as throat lozenges.

Sidebar:  I don’t think I told my parents about the candy and sugar and the other broken rules until after Leta died in the 1990s.  That was our secret with Leta.  Mom and Dad would have certain rules, and Leta would ignore those rules, much to our delight.

And, of course, my grandmother, Mom’s mother, couldn’t bear that any of her little darling grandchildren was sick.  So, she would come laden down with food like stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, and a whole host of time-honored Jewish-Ashkenazic comfort food.   Grandma and Leta had a grudging respect for each other which over the years turned into real affection, but when one of us was sick, it was all-out turf warfare.  No wonder Mom went to her office.

Even with today’s magic potions, Nyquil or Dayquil or the equivalent, there is no better medicine than Mom’s hugs, Leta’s smother and Grandma’s food.  Just thinking about it makes me feel better already.

Songs in the Key of Life

This was a particularly hard weekend.  In the Jewish calendar, Friday was the 9th anniversary (a Yahrzeit) of my mother’s death.  We went to synagogue together:  Dad, SOB (sister of blogger), HOSOB (husband of SOB) and I.  We endured the endless rituals that preceded the recitation of the names of those with Yahrzeits and saying the mourner’s prayer.  Each year, SOB and I ask each other “why is Mom on the list with all the dead people?”  Both of us pull out worn pictures of Mom and run our fingers over them.  I also have an emergency Mom slideshow on my iPhone in case we still do not feel her presence.  “Blogger family does death” is not for the faint of heart.  We pick every scab, open every wound, dredge up every Hallmark moment.

Dad loves the Oneg (the after-service nosh and schmooze) especially when there are Bar and Bat Mitzvahs the next day because there are really good hors d’oeuvres.  The rest of us wanted to get out of synagogue because HOSOB and SOB were particularly afraid that my constant transgressions might cause a biblical conflagration that would consume the congregation and they didn’t want blood on their hands. Wow, they think I have power.  I surveyed the attendees at the service and I assure you that there are others whose trespasses run afoul of Big Ten (the Ten Commandments) constantly and consistently.  So, my snarkiness and anger at G-d (we are not close, G-d and I) pale in comparison.  Mom might send a flicker to remind me to mind my manners, but there were way bigger fish should G-d want to fry.

Dad poured himself a wine in a water glass (good thing he is still steady at 91) and dug into the not-so-very-kosher looking edibles (it is a Reform synagogue, but STILL).  The Onegs also attract homeless people who don’t abide by ritual cleansing before entering a house of worship.  They should eat and be full, without curling my nose hair.  But I digress.

SOB and I were heartened when people came over to say Shabbat Shalom and tell us that they still remember Mom and miss her.  Each said that how shocking it was to hear Mom’s name on the Yahrzeit list.  Once we counted 10 people who remembered Mom, we were ready to have dinner.   We made sure she lived on in others, even nine years later.  Mom was indeed remarkable and her memory is a blessing.

We peeled Dad away from the cheese tray and went off for some indigestion-inducing Indian food.  We had a lively conversation because, around Mom’s Yahrzeit, Dad is really clear-headed and “present” in the way he was when Mom was alive.  As sad as it is to hear her name on the list with the dead people, the people who remember her and our presence at synagogue invigorate Dad.  He said he feels as if Mom is right next to him.

The conversation went along crazy tangents about Dad and others his age finding new companions and his comments about the capabilities of men his age made us need to stop the conversation and move to another direction.  His comment about what an 85 year-old man can really do with a 45 year-old made us laugh, cry and turn purple.  He is still married to Mom, he says.  Somehow, it makes us want him even more to find a companion to fill his days in his final years.

It was a cramped place and Dad is hard of hearing so we had to talk very loud.  Dad says there is nothing wrong with his hearing.  I tell him he can’t hear when the ear doctor recommends a hearing aid.  At various points in the conversation, I needed to repeat things right into his ear so he could catch the conversation.  I always started by saying, “I love you Dad and you need a hearing aid. . . .”  He laughed and repeated that his hearing was excellent.  But then why was I screaming into his ear?  “Everyone mumbles.”  Look, everyone needs a good dose of rationalization every single day.

POB (partner of blogger) left a Yahrzeit candle out for me to light in Mom’s memory.  The acts of striking the match and lighting the wick really personalize the moment in the way a recitation of a prayer in a congregation cannot.  In the darkness of my kitchen when my family was asleep, I lit a candle to remember my mother and bring light into the darkness she left behind.  Imagine Carly Simon’s song about losing her mother.  Weep.

HOSOB had lunch with Dad on Saturday and took him to a museum.  Dad called each of us Saturday night, a little bored and somewhat despondent.  Imagine Jim Croce’s “Photographs and Memories.”  It is a hard time for all of us.  We are glad he reached out but we cannot fill the void.  We can just be on the other end of the phone line.  I wonder how much that helps him but I hope it eases the loneliness.

Dad is man with a past much fuller than his future.  I love him because he kind, generous and able to be vulnerable in front of his children, and acknowledge our love and trust our decisions.  Enter a medley of “Sunrise, Sunset” with a smattering of “Circle Game” and “Life is Eternal”.

But then there is Sunday night dinner.  The weekly ritual during which my father pushes my emotional buttons the way Cole Porter could make a piano sing.

Since I was kid, Dad and I fell into this rhythm that a 8pm on a Sunday night, we would get into an argument about something.  Many times, neither of us had any basis for our opinion.  Other times, one was indeed an expert (me, for example, when it comes to life as a lawyer in law firm) and the other (Dad) was not.  Most times, it was about politics; sometimes it got personal.  Mom and SOB used to set their watches by the argument because it was more regular and constant than any clock in the house — 8pm.  Mom and SOB also tempered the “conversation” and brought us back to civility.

Over the years, we have dinner earlier because of SOB (son of blogger, our source of sanity), so the argument starts promptly at 7:15 and lasts to 7:45pm.  Usually, Cousin Gentle, CB (cousin Birder), HOSOB and SOB come over, too.  So there are plenty of people to help Dad and me back from the brink.  Tonight, everyone was busy. Dad came over at 4pm because he was lonely.

Tonight’s argument was triggered by my young cousin’s desire to go to law school and my visceral “NOOOOOO!!!!” response.  I thought he should do something with a better business model and that could not be outsourced, like plumbing.  My point was that law school is not the default choice of this generation if the student was paying for his or her own education.  For me, it was easy.  Mom and Dad were paying.  But life in a law firm is hardly the easy life or the cash cow it was a generation ago.  Dad wouldn’t listen to me and continued to discuss how important and rewarding was the practice of law.  He did admit that it was snobbery that precluded him from considering non-professional avenues.  I applaud his self awareness.

Of course, I went to law school because I was not fit for medical school and I didn’t want to be a pariah in my family.  I guess I wanted some acknowledgement, at long last, that my parents’ dreams were not mine and didn’t turn out the way everyone imagined.  I wanted Dad only to say, “we did the best we knew how.”  That would have been enough.

These arguments are about mental exercise and the eternal struggle between parents and children for acknowledgement, acceptance, honor and respect.  We have settled the struggle, more or less, but there are occasional border skirmishes.  But we always leave the table hugging and kissing and saying “I love you”.  And then, if SOB is not present, I call her immediately after I come back from putting Dad into a cab.  I must download the events — for guilt, for the collective memory, for the continuity of family.  What guilt you ask?  The guilt of putting the welfare of sick people in the hospital over the mental health of her sister.  SOB should be indebted to me for decades to come.  [There must be some song from old Yiddish theatre that captures all of this.  If I find it I will update my blog.]

Of course, notwithstanding the sometimes harsh words, Dad is coming with us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art tomorrow, because  . . . he needs us and we need him.

The Wedding Dress Part II

Dear Mom:

First, I never thought I would get married.  Second, I never thought that if I ever did get married, it would be without you.  I will be 48 (52 if you’ve read my other blog entries) at the wedding, so what did I expect? You ask.  You’re right.  But I am your last born, the baby of the family.  I expected that you would live until, I don’t know, forever.

I know you are hovering in Heaven, but, right now, that is not good enough.  And I am a conscientious objector when it comes to G-d but, because your soul cannot have dissipated into nothingness and because POB (partner of blogger) and I found each other, I hold out some specter of belief in some divinity in a world that is otherwise in decline.  So, it is big that I believe, and this belief thing is, how they say these days, “on you”.

As an aside, does this Jewish guilt work on the other side?  Am I wasting my time here?  Drop a lightening bolt if guilt doesn’t matter in the hereafter.  I won’t tell anyone.  I promise.

So, I couldn’t call you when POB and I found the dresses.  (Did you register any guilt feeling? Ok, I drop the question.)  You would have been so excited about it (and relieved that we didn’t make you schlep to SoHo).  You would ask about the wedding plans and then let your preferences be known in a velvet fist way that sounded soothing yet non-negotiable.  Confrontational and gentle all at the same time.  You should have been Secretary of State.

Thank G-d DOB (Dad of blogger)is healthy (for a 91 year-old) and seems like he will be there, G-d willing.  (There I go again, with the G-d thing.  I might lose my objector status, if this keeps up, so really let me know if guilt works up there.)

Speaking of DOB, I spent Sunday morning trying, in vain, to reconnect him to his email and the internet.  SOS (our son, source of sanity) came with me on this mission of uselessness.  I got DOB all reconnected and did a learning-by-doing tutorial that I custom-tailored for him.  I did that tutorial more times than I can to tell.  Nothing.  NADA.  He can play Free Cell and access his list of  of charitable contributions without assistance.  But, when it comes to the Internet, he can’t really type, he can’t really see the screen and he can’t really understand how to read and send emails.  Still, he is righteously indignant that he doesn’t have much personal email in his inbox.  SOS tried really hard to understand why DOB didn’t really understand computers, the internet or, quite frankly, the 21st century.  Imagine if I listened to BOB (brother of blogger) and tried to get DOB on Facebook.  Neither DOB or I would have survived the attempt.

But I digress.  Back to me. I mean you.  I really mean you and me.

It is crazy how something as anti-feminist as parents walking their child down the aisle seems so quaint and wonderful now.  If only we could hold hands as you walked me down the aisle.  Yes, life has dulled some of my sharp edges and quieted my doctrinaire ways.  Because life, love and loss are complicated and our responses to them are idiosyncratic.

But what is simple is that I wish you were here to celebrate with us.

Really, come visit in my dreams and tell me about guilt in Heaven.  It is the least you could do after having left us almost 9 years ago.  (Did that rate on the Heavenly Guilt-o-Meter? Just asking.  No offense intended.)

Love,

Blogger