Monday, December 14, 2009

The Mourning Ends

today was the last day of the mourning period for my mother. my sister and i went down to the cemetary together and tried our darndest to find ten men to say a kaddush for her. the timing was all off. some men have the custom not to visit the graveyard during chanukah, and some were on their way to daven the afternoon prayers. others were hurrying home to light the chanukah menorahs. it was most stessful. we were both feeling guilty and helpless. as i stood by my parents' graves reciting psalms, i was having a silent conversation in my head with my son. he had called a couple of times from work to ask what time we were going to do the kaddush. no one had an answer for him. it was all kind of 'up in the air'. i guess since the element corresponding to zefat is air, it seemed appropriate. last night, my son berated me for not telling him sooner about the memorial. i simply answered, that it had been the topic of my conversation for the past two weeks. he said that he just didn't hear it. perhaps, i spoke about it with his wife and assumed that she had relayed the message.

i was a little miffed yesterday when my daughter-in-law told me that she was going to a bar mitzvah in another city with her mother. i honestly, think that i was more upset that she was taking the baby out in really bad weather. never the less, i started to feel betrayed. she knew that i was planning a memorial dinner for the family and i think that it was most inappropriate for her not to have joined us. i was really getting all worked up. i started a silent 'zelda rant'. i wanted desperately, to get onto my blog and document it. i thought about all of the appliances and furniture that were purchased for her from my mother's funds, not to mention, their living rent free on my inheritance money. i started to really resent her for being disloyal. i was going on and on in my head so i asked G-d to help me see the good in the situation and to help me deal with the things that i cannot change. i suddenly thought about the '12 step' programs and realized that there ought to be a 'mother-in-laws' anonymous'. that observation put me back on the road to 'emotional' sobriety. and i focused on my quiche and other dinner preparations.

menorah lighting at chabad was at 4:50 p:m. zvi came home from work at about 5:30 p.m. and lit his menorah. i figured that 'coming over right after candle lighting time', meant about 7:00 p.m. so i set the table and put all the food in the various ovens to keep warm. zvi was starving so i served him a bowl of piping hot, mushroom veggie soup. i ended up making a squash and eggplant quiche with two kinds of cheeses, a huge greek salad and a red cabbage slaw with pecans and dried cranberries. since no one showed up by 7:30, i fried up a dozen or more little sweet potato latkes. at 8:00, i frantically fried up two dozen yogurt whole wheat 'greek' donuts. i was so wired that i also threw in a package of fish croquettes and french fries to boot. i reasoned that someone might not want to eat dairy. the phone kept ringing while i was busy, frying up a storm in my little alcove kitchen. i knew it was a family member calling, but my mobile phone was out of order and i had to run to the other side of the house to get the phone. of course, i missed it each time. after a while, i stopped trying and kept on frying. my niece called once again to let me know that she was on her way over. after a while, the other family members arrived. everyone was disappointed to hear that baby sahar was out of town.

we sat down to eat closer to 9:00 p.m. we were only 6 at the table plus baby menachem mendel. no one was really hungry. everyone was tired. everyone had a stomach ache or a headache or something else. the baby was recovering from a bad virus, too. no one had any room for greek donuts, or french fries or fish schnitzels, or chocolate candy coins. no one had any anecdotes to share about mom. no one really had any energy to be out. i felt that everyone came out of obligation and to humor me.

zvi said something about mom and excused himself for the night. then everyone went to the computer room to watch the live hook up from 770, the lubuvitch headquarters in brooklyn. they were lighting the giant menorah in the shul and we were able to spot my nephew out of the sea of lubuvitchers. my niece started going through the arts and crafts materials, that i had been storing for her, and took home the plastic cabinet too. so i have even more space in my newly vamped blog room. the family left around midnight and i cleaned up the grease from the kitchen alcove and did the dishes and washed the floor. i then ate all of the leftover salads and quiche and had a coffee. i hit the bed at around 1:30 a.m. gal came home with baby sahar after 2:00 a.m. and i watched television to about 3:00 a.m.

my brother-in-law gave a torah class in honor of my mother, this morning. it was called for 11:00 a.m but i came late because i was having a 'heart to heart' phone conversation with my sister ann in california. i then went upstairs to see the baby. he was giving out free smiles and i was really enjoying them and in no hurry to leave. i had promised to make a sour cream coffee cake for this morning's class but i was all out of eggs, cash and energy. i took the almost, whole, white cake that was left over from shabbat, and covered it with a sour cream and butter frosting, and i sprinkled some roasted chopped pecans on the top. i found the frosting recipe on the net at around 2.00 a.m. needless to say, the cake was a big hit. i'd like to think that my talent for 'reinventing' food stuffs comes from my mom, the queen of recycled leftovers. i ran over to borrow some cab fare from my niece and she met me outside of her in -law's apartment. i went inside to greet her mother-in-law, who is visiting from india. she and her husband have been running the chabad house in puno for about 10 years. her daughter is expecting momentarily. my little nephew, menachem mendush, gave me a very warm greeting. his israeli/indian grandmother was surprised that he knew me.

anyway, we honored our mother as best as we could under really hard obstacles. we just have to 'gird our loins', as my good friend, judy, always says, and continue to be a source of pride for our parents. i am certain that they are watching out for us in heaven and happy to know that they produced such fine people. i asked mom to forgive me, my transgressions, and i requested that she look out for the new generation of great grandchildren. officially, the mourning ends.


  1. feel free to email me for any reason. but please don't stop commenting on the blog because i really love your comments.

  2. Zelda, I'm sorry that your mother's memorial was not the way you would have really liked for it to be. But I think you are right--the lives that we live, the integrity of our character is also a way to honor our parents. To have reared a generation of "fine people" is a wonderful accomplishment for your parents. As you know, there is no greater joy for a parent than that.

  3. i am sure you make your parents proud in all that you do.
    remember-you can;t please everyone.

  4. I didn't do too well on my diet over the weekend either. AND I didn't do any exercise! I just felt tired and unmotivated, and so ate what I wanted and sat around watching TV. I felt quilty about it today and got back into the groove.

    I'm going to try to send you some photos of my family on your email.