Monday, June 15, 2009

V'zocher chasdei Avot

Usually, when we say "and [HaShem] remembers the kindnesses of our Ancestors," we're referring to Avraham, Yitzchak (Isaac), and Yaakov (Jacob) (and Sarah, Rivka/Rebecca, Rachel and Léah). But, as I said last night between Mincha/Afternoon Service and Maariv/Evening Service, these words also remind me of my parents.

I talked about how I can still see my mother--who spent much of the time on the High Holidays in a synagogue classroom, minding the younger kids--walking around the synagogue's block like a mother duck, with a string of children behind her. And I spoke of sedarim/seders where we were so packed around the dining room table that we practically had our elbows in each other's soup because my mother always invited so many people.

Hearing of our sedarim, one person asked whether our mother was traditional, but my sister said that she was not, because there was never any question that both of us girls would go to college. My parents didn't differentiate between us girls and our two brothers in terms of Jewish education, either.

Perhaps it was because we were discussing educational opportunities that it dawned on me that my mother had had more of an influence on our son's education than I had realized, even though my parents made aliyah (moved to Israel) when our son was still a toddler. My mother was a person who accepted whatever came her way and dealt with it, rather than pretending that it wasn't happening. Not for her any of this, "What do you mean, I can't hear?" nonsense. It took her a while to figure out that she was missing a lot of what my father was saying because she was losing her hearing. But, once that fact became clear to her, she just went right out and bought hearing aids. She was only in her early forties at the time, but I never once heard her complain that hearing aids would make her look old, or any other such narishkeiten/nonsense. There was no denial and no vanity. She never pretended that she wasn't hard of hearing, and was very involved in a chug/club for English-speaking people with hearing loss after she and my father made aliyah. I now realize--too late to thank her, alas--that I inherited my "park-your-ego-at-the-door" attitude toward our son's disabilities and delays directly from my mother. It was because of her example that it would never have occurred to me not to get my son hearing aids. It was because of her example that I personally requested that our son be returned to special education classes when it became clear that mainstreaming him was not working.

So it turns out that I owe her even more gratitude than I'd realized. Thanks, Mom.


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