Monday, February 20, 2017


I suppose I could write about the ridiculous rally on Saturday in Florida, or the new Secretary of Education's inability to spell or punctuate properly, or even the sham health care plan that would cost far more than ACA while providing a fraction of the services. 

But I am not.

By the time you read this, I will have discharged my last daily duty as a daughter. This morning at minyan, I will say the last Kaddish for the 11 months of mourning a parent. That does not mean I won't ever say Kaddish again, in fact, I will on Mom's first yahrzeit that will take place on the 24th day of Adar, which happens to begin at sundown on Tuesday, March 21st, and continues until sundown on Wednesday, March 22nd. I will say Kaddish for her and everyone else at yizkor on all the appropriate  holy days. But today will end the requirement to be at daily minyan to say Kaddish.

Not too many people do the daily minyan thing anymore. On rare days, we don't get the required quorum of 10, but most days we have more than that.This time, however, I was already doing it for my Dad when Mom died. That means I've been going to daily minyan for not 11 months, but for 15. You'd think I'd be ready to stop.

And in some ways, I am. In other ways, not so much. 

My days, for the last 15 months, have all started with prayer. I missed a handful of days along the way, but always made sure Kaddish for the folks was covered...usually by cousin Perdie in Brooklyn or RabbiT here at Beth Jacob. I was acutely aware of the days I missed; my goal was not to miss any. That does not mean I was fully engaged at all times; lots of mornings I stood staring out the window more than seeking that moment of kavanah we're supposed to be striving for. But I was there and the words were said, and I was doing not only that which was expected of me, but what I expected of myself. 

When I was saying Kaddish for Ziggy, I was more focused on that which was going on around me...mostly FIL, who had no system of mourning, no tradition he chose to fall back on to help him heal. That probably bothered me more than him. When Dad left us the day after Thanksgiving, I was more focused on Mom, making sure she was getting through this and not just lying down to die. Supporting her was hard work...and I was damn thankful I was physically present to help her. I learned a lot about Mom during those last four months...some good, some not so good, but it was what it was. It was good to share that transition with her. 

Did it help me when she suddenly took her leave? Sorta. Kinda. What I understood was the comment she made to me at Grandma Bessie's funeral in 1977: "I'm an orphan now."

On the 24th day of Adar II (yes, she died during a leap month; leave it to mom to be complicated) I became an orphan. There would be no more wacko calls to my cell phone during the day. Although the Friday night phone calls that started the week they dropped me at college stopped when they came to Minnesota, that was the moment I began to miss those trying, frustrating, and loving calls in earnest. I would no longer hear Mom's voice asking if I remembered what she did with that piece of pink paper on which she'd written Ruth's daughter's phone number in New York. I knew I shouldn't miss those questions, but the truth is that I do. 

So this morning, around 8:00 a.m. Central Time, the last Kaddish of 11 months will be in the past.  I am no longer "Snusie Snitting in the Snun" (mom's joke), nor "Hey, Sue Alou!" (Dad's joke.)  I will continue on as kid sister to my big bro, Mam to the kids, and Savta to a precious little girl who yells, "BUBBE!" every time she passes the picture of her and mom that hangs on the wall upstairs. 

But I am no longer a daughter. I am an orphan. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Rites and rituals have a purpose:
they exist to help guide us through transitions.
They are not meant to be answers in and of themselves. 


  1. Tip of the day is the most profound thing I've read in a while. Well done.