Wednesday, July 27, 2005

On the plus side—fond memories of my family: Midnights in the Kitchen with Mom

Okay, so it was much later than midnight. Once, when I couldn't sleep, I went downstairs to the kitchen, figuring I could talk to Mom. She was often in the kitchen until some ridiculous hour of the morning, preparing food for the freezer so that whoever was available could get dinner started before she got home from work. This time, I decided to be a wise guy: I said "Boo," very quietly. She still jumped ten feet. :)

In her day, my mother was an excellent cook and baker, a wonderful host, an excellent navigator and map reader when my father was the one driving, and, of course, as a bookkeeper by profession, great with numbers. (Having gone from my mother the bookkeeper to my husband the CPA, I've never in my life done my own tax return.) As luck would have it, I'm the only one of the four of us who didn't inherit her kitchen skills, much to my husband's misfortune. As a matter of fact, I'm sorry to say that I didn't inherit any of my mother's many talents, much to my dismay. All I inherited was her quick temper and her difficulty in listening to music while doing other things at the same time.

Mother was one of the women who took care of the little ones on the High Holidays so that their parents could davven (pray). How well I remember her playing the Pied Piper, a line of kids trailing behind her as she walked them around the block on which the shul (synagogue) building stood. I'm sure it broke her heart when she was let go by the nursery school in which she'd been teaching because she didn't have a college degree. My grandparents had only enough money to send one of their two children to college, and I guess that, in those days, sending a daughter instead of a son was unheard of. I can't blame my uncle—it wasn't his decision. But it's a shame that my mother never had a chance to do what she really wanted to do, which was to teach. I think that she would have been really good at it.

Still, Mom was an expert at taking whatever lemons life headed her and turning them into lemonade. In the days before the World Trade Center terrorist attack was a gleam in Osama Bin Ladin's eye, my Israeli brother once said of my mother that you could drop her by parachute into Afghanistan and, somehow, she'd figure out how to get where she wanted to go. She’s always coped with whatever life threw her way. That's the mom I cherish.


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