Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

tonight is my mom's hebrew birthday. she would have been 92. i am filled with such sadness that it's hard to breathe. just the other day, i was thinking about how much l looked forward to the end of the year of the jewish mourning period. mom died during chanukah. she really wasn't so keen on birthday parties. my father, bless his soul, loved a good party. he became an extrovert with his dementia, and would be the first one up and shake his 'booty'. i don't know where he learned to do that. after my father died, we would get together on his birthday every year, and go out for a meal. mom really enjoyed dining out, too. we threw a birthday party for mom, about five years ago, not so much for her, but to do something to amuse dad. when dad asked how old she was, and we replied that it was her 87th year, he slapped his head and cried out: "oy vey, how did i end up with such an old lady!" we were all hunched over, in laughter. dad thought that he was a yungerman of 72. dad died that following year. i can't recall if we celebrated all of the remaining birthdays. but, i'm pretty sure that we did a party for mom's turning 90 and 91, which was nothing, short of a miracle. my mom started to teach my niece, sarah rifka, how to cook about 3 years ago. once a week they would create a new dish. one week it was vegetarian stuffed cabbage, another week it was potato kugel. she even taught her how to make onion pletzels. mom had enormous patience with her grandchildren. she was so close to them. she was more of a confidante than a safta. she had the custom of handing out 100 shekel bills to all her grandchildren on her's and dad's birthdays and on chanukah. she would also give everyone $100 at rosh hashana time. my job for years, was to get to the bank and take out the bills for her to distribute. this year i gave out $100 bills on my birthday. mom loved the internet. she was e-mailing friends and family for the past seven years. she also loved to play bridge on line. zvi used to brag that while all his friends' grandmothers were making couscous, his safta was on the internet. mom was a zionist from back in the day and followed world politics until the day that she died. she would sit for hours, watching the israeli kineset on cable t.v and kept abreast of all the laws, being passed. unfortunately, she took it to heart, and it weakened her health. she was upset that i didn't share her burning interest in politics. on more than one occasion, i had to beg her not to listen to the news. the night before she died, she asked my niece if we still had a country left or had the government given it away. mom was like a second mother to my son, zvi. she was the good mom and i was the bad mom. living together was not always easy. it was so hard for her to become dependent on me towards the end. she took care of her ailing mother and other relatives throughout her life but couldn't stand that i was following in her footsteps. after zvi got married, mom acted like the stereotypical, mother-in-law to zvi's new wife. it made me chuckle, that i was the good mother-in-law. mom and i made peace at the end of her life and actually, got a chance to say goodbye to each other, moments before she died. she thanked me, before she died for having cared for her. she actually, admitted to me, that i had done a good job. i begged her not to die. don't we all want our mommies with us forever. she told me that she needed to go and that she missed my father. she didn't want to be a burden on me any longer. she was simply worn out and knew that her body was breaking down. she was totally lucid until she drew her last breath. whenever i hear something juicy, i always think about running in to tell her. i really miss you. Hapy birthday, mom!


  1. You have brought me to tears!
    I am so happy for you that you had such a good relationship with your parents and were able to be there for them in their later years.
    I know it has at times been difficult for you, however you have such a great sechar in Olam HaBa for everything.

  2. Isn't it wonderful that we've been blessed with the ability to remember! I'm glad you have these precious memories of your parents to keep them close to your heart.

  3. Thank goodness I still have both my parents (Dad is almost 90 and Mom is almost 89). My grandmother died on her 90th birthday, quietly and totally unexpectedly, in her sleep. I was almost mad at her, for leaving before we could say goodbye. I am so glad that it was easy for her to slip away (no suffering), and of course it should be no surprise that a 90-year-old might die soon, but I really, REALLY wanted to say goodbye to her. And now I am getting all teary-eyed...