Sunday, November 22, 2009
The First Anniversary
it's nearly 8:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat and my son just got home. he left work early today to plan for tonight's first wedding anniversary. the florist just arrived with 24 red and white heart shaped, helium balloons, a gift package of a romantic figurine and bottles of musk oil and body lotion sprays, a vase filled with roses, and two bunches of orchids, i think. zvi came back from town with a brown 'fila' training suit, that he bought for gal. he spent hours in town waiting for them to inscribe the back of the training suit. the monogramed message cost almost as much as the running suit, itself. gal also bought zvi a brown 'fila' running suit and a pair of skinny fitting jeans. as gal waited downstairs, zvi released the balloons on to the ceiling above the bed and covered the bed with fresh rose petals. he placed the vase of fresh roses on the coffee table next to the gift figurine package and set down two special wine glasses for later that night. he placed a decorative, scented candle on each night stand to be lit upon their return. my task tonight, was babysitting for sahar. after i was instructed on how to warm up a bottle of mother's milk, the young couple left for dinner in town. i went out earlier this evening to the local store to buy diapers and baby wipes. i also bought two new soft toothe brushes and a tube of sensitive toothepaste for the happy young couple. it was not exactly, a romantic gift , but one that was very much appreciated. i also bought a small white teddy bear that says "i love you" in english, when squeezed. this was sahar's gift to his parents. i even made an anniversary card from sahar with childish scrawl and i signed his name. each time i asked sahar today, what he was planning to give his parents for their anniversary, he gave me a great big smile. i found an old anniversary card from my mother's cards collection and put a modest check in it for the young couple. i put the cards and teddy bear in a small bag and left it in sahar's crib for a surprise. it's hard to believe that an entire year has passed. last year at this time, mom was still alive. we spent the day hugging, and wishing each other: "mazel tov"! i think it was the happiest day of my life. i managed to trim down before the wedding, and i looked pretty amazing back then. i had a house full of guests all week long. my sister's niece and friend from yeshiva were sleeping in the computer room on mattresses on the floor. my girlfriend from efrat, surprised me and came the day before the wedding with her elderly dad, her daughter and baby grandson and her son, moshe. moshe and zvi have been best friends since they were toddlers. believe it or not, i felt less pressured, having a lot of people around me. my mother had more company to talk with and i had a good friend to share my johnny walker with. i promised my mom that i would spend a good amount of time, making her up for the wedding. she was disappointed in how she looked at the engagement, so i was going to give her the 'royal' treatment. i combed out and fluffed up her short wig. i opted for the short one because mom's face was quite gaunt and i knew it would be lost in the longer sheitel. i applied a good amount of face powder because mom looked a bit 'corpse' like. i applied her lipstick and mascara and eye shadow and spritzed her with some of her 'donna karen n.y.' perfume for good measure. i wheeled her over to the mirror for her approval. she seemed genuinely, pleased with how she looked. she was on her way out of life and hanging by a thread, and yet she looked like royalty that night. it was obvious to all, after she passed away, some, three weeks later, that she had stayed alive until her grandson was married. unfortunately, mom couldn't stand or walk on the day of the wedding. she suffered for the year, with crippling gout and didn't have the strength to get out of the wheel chair. just as we were all leaving for the wedding hall, cloey the dog, ran out of the house. of course, she wouldn't come back and we had to leave her outside. i called and begged zvi, the groom, to deal with it. he was pretty upset with me but did manage to find her and get her back into the house. i was rather concerned that moshe, zvi's designated driver, might decide to speed to make up the time. we, as well as the groom, arrived 'unfashionably' late for the receiving line. but considering all of the obstacles, it was pretty amazing that we all made it, at all. our van arrived on time but i couldn't possibly, carry my mother out of the wheelchair and into the van. we hadn't counted on her not being able to walk at all that day. i had to insist that the groom wait and deal with his grandmother. she was in so much pain that night and i hadn't given her any tylenol before we left. i packed adult diapers and baby wipes and the meds but i forgot to bring the tylenol. a young security guard helped carry mom out of the van and placed her back into the wheelchair. it was a real schlepp to wheel her from the parking area into the wedding hall. we had to go all the way around to avoid the steps and it was so windy and cold that night, not at all ,unseasonably warm, like tonight. i was scared to death that mom might get pneumonia. i felt that my wig might blow off, too. my family was already there to help with mom so i was able to join the receiving line and hug all of the members of the clan. the hall was lavish and there was an elaborate spread set out. i did not get involved with any of the wedding plans and basically, left it up to the clan to do 'their' thing and let me know what my share of the bill was. as the token ashkanazi, i did help to choose the menu. after all, without me, there wouldn't have been a waldorf salad with whipped cream! as soon as we were seated in the hall, mom 'dismissed' me. she said that i was not to be her nurse maid that night. she ordered me out and onto the dance floor for the night. she was left in good company. my niece had flown in from n.y. to surprise her. she enjoyed her meal and seemed to be doing well. i danced and boogied with my daughter-in-law and girl friends for hours but i didn't have as much energy as i would have liked. later on, i was told that mom was in agony and wanted to go home. i quickly found our driver and started to get our group in motion. my sister insisted that i stay til the end, and she and my good friends helped mom into their van and took her home. i came home shortly, afterwards, and found mom, comfortably, in bed. my sister left and i helped mom out of her wedding clothes and into her nightgown. we spent the next several hours talking with my friend from efrat into the wee hours of the morning. mom was so happy! the next evening, we hosted the first sheva bracha at home, for the immediate family. my sister prepared the entire meal and i set up the the tables. i was utterly exhausted. it was not easy getting things done with people milling about the kitchen. the following night, i hosted about 50 people for the entire shabbat. i had 50 people sleeping here. the meals were catered and served in the new shul on the next street. i had baked and prepared cakes and cookies for the past two weeks and had put everything in my freezer. i had bought tons of dried fruits and nuts for the occassion. i couldn't let mom go to the shul for the dinner because it was too cold and windy. the house was freezing and i hadn't put on the heat or put up enough hot water for drinks. i was totally overwhelmed, to say, the least. the following week, mom and i hosted the new couple for shabbat. mom surprised them by walking to the table by herself, before they arrived. we buried mom before the next shabbat. it's almost a year since mom died. i seem to find it difficult to remember how she looked before she died. my friends say that it feels peaceful here. i can't feel mom's presence here anymore. it's almost the first anniversary of her death. but tonight it is zvi's and gal's first anniversary!