Monday, April 28, 2014

Raisins and Almonds

Yesterday was my Mom’s 93rd birthday. (My daughter insists I should say she passed away at 92, but hey, three weeks before 93 counts as 93 in my mind!) To honor the occasion, I drove to the home in Novato where she and my Dad lived for 15 wonderful years. They were equidistant from their grandchildren in San Francisco and Sebastopol, loved the California weather and enjoyed the Marion Court apartment complex complete with swimming pool. Sweet to walk around there again and remember the good times with the grandkids on our monthly visits.

Later that evening, my sister and her husband and two of her three boys came over and along with Talia, Karen and myself, we had a little ceremony in the backyard planting a the help of her (and some of my Dad’s) ashes. Nephew Kyle read an appropriate Rumi poem called The Pickax, speaking of our rented bodies that are returned to the owners, we sang a song or two and went in for a spaghetti dinner with my attempt at a homemade spaghetti sauce close to what my Mom (and later Dad) used to make.

So sweet to tell stories of “Grandma” over dinner, hear the kids’ point of view about her eccentricities, which were many and ranged from hilarious, amusing, endearing, embarrassing, confusing and just plain weird. They remembered something I hadn’t thought about in a while, the way she used to clip things out from newspapers and magazines that she thought each of us might be interested in— and usually she was right.

On another track, I thought of these little food combinations I learned from her, most of which I haven’t eaten in a while, but now am determined to eat again on special occasions. The one that has remained consistent—and is also the name of a lovely Yiddish lullaby— is raisins and almonds. But then there was sour cream and bananas, molasses and milk, apples with cream cheese and poppy seeds. Distinctive all and things which will be several of many paths to remembrance.

What a difference sharing the mourning with the extended family. That’s how it always has been and always shall and should be— on top of the private moments of solitary ceremony. But to banter back and forth with all the stories— last night, augmented by going through all the photo albums— was just what the doctor ordered.

Along with a few snacks of raisins and almonds.

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