Monday, May 10, 2021

Light, Shadow, and Invisibility

Young Sir and I have been having an ongoing conversation about light and dark; specifically sunlight and shadows. This started a couple of weeks ago while we were taking a walk around my block and we noticed our shadows preceding us. I explained about the direction of the light, and then we played with our fingers, spreading them apart, then pushing them together, and noticing how we can see the light between our fingers and then, when we squish 'em together, there is only dark. The conversation picked up again at last Friday's nanny-day. 

We were in the backyard when suddenly he said, "Look, Savta! Shadows!" 

I looked down to study our shadows. Then I pointed to our feet. "Our shadows are still attached to our feet!" We picked up one foot and saw light fill the space, then put it down to see if our shadow was still attached. Young Sir was very relieved to know his shadow was still stuck to him. I just smiled as I thought of Wendy Darling stitching Peter Pan's shadow back onto his feet.

The conversation progressed to cover that which we can see and that which we cannot see. Keep in mind, Young Sir is only 3, so the science isn't all that helpful here. He was, however, glomming on to the word invisible. I think he liked the concept of not being seen. I'm not quite sure how he was processing visible v. invisible, but clearly he knew what invisible meant. 

On Shabbat, I was giving this conversation a fair amount of  thought. The word had come up a number of times this past week, and I was grappling with some of the implications of invisibility. Women of a certain age are routinely invisible, as are widows. You can poo-poo that all you want, but it's the truth and we who are one, the other, or both know how true it is. We certainly are not the only invisible people around here; we are but two clumps. Invisibility is a real issue for all sorts of very real people. And for a variety of reasons, not all of which are earth shatteringly monumental. Some are quite small and seemingly insignificant to those outside the group in question. For those in the group, it is neither small nor insignificant.

But that got me to thinking about what else happened this past week. Allow me to color outside the lines for a moment.

Just about 12 years ago, Ziggy died. Mourner's kaddish had to be said, and even though the strictest obligation for a spouse is 30 days, I decided I would recite the mourner's kaddish for 11 months. Since both my parents were alive, I'd never said kaddish formally before. I came to appreciate the importance of morning minyan. 10 people have to be there (we are an egalitarian minyan counting men and women) and every once in a while, we struggle to get 10. So when my 11 months were over, I kept coming, paying it forward as it were. Work shift issues cut into the number of days a week I could be there, but I worked out a schedule that guaranteed at least one day a week I would go to minyan before work. Another shift change, and I was back to 6 days a week. It was an obligation I accepted not just for the sake of community, but for my own need to center myself in the mornings. 

Some of us are bullish about  being at minyan...even after the start of the pandemic when we had to figure out how we could make this work on Zoom. By looking at the tally sheet to my immediate right, I can tell you today is the 347th day we have had Zoom minyan (there's no morning minyan on Shabbat and holy days that require other arrangements.)

See, I am the keeper of the names, a tradition started on a yellow pad many years ago by Bud Sweet (z"l) and continued to this day...because I brought the sacred yellow pad home that last day in the chapel. I've actually been the keeper for most of the years I've been coming to minyan. The number on the far left with a V- is the actual number of people praying that day in the minyan. We have one who comes in from Canada, a couple from Florida, one from Alabama, one from New York, a bunch from Wisconsin, and some who just show up on Zoom because they know there will be a minyan and they can say mourner's kaddish. During regular times, we listed who had an aliyah to the Torah and who davened each of the 3 sections of the service. These days, there is no formal Torah reading, so we list who read the section. In the 347 days we have been davening together every morning, we have fallen shy of 10 only twice...which is about the same for a year of in-person gathering. Our average daily attendance on Zoom is 26. 

Because we do this every day with no hype, no fanfare, no expectations of anything, we pretty much fly under the radar. We're kinda like the pillars that hold up the sanctuary....after a while, you don't notice them either because they are always there. And that's exactly how it should be. We don't do this for us, we do this for the community. It's a group effort. 

My dad was a minyan kinda guy. For him, it started when a close friend lost her father. Dad started going to minyan to make sure they had 10 men (it was not an egalitarian shul.) And it became a habit. He even had a page to announce. When the folks were making the move to Florida, they gave Dad a plaque to take with him...and they named his pew in the chapel for him. He told me he cried the day they gave him the plaque. He told me going to minyan was one of the most important things he ever did in his life because this is what you do for your community. 

In my home shul that is now gone...having merged with another synagogue...daily minyan was a community responsibility. You got a notice when it was your week to make sure they had a minyan. Minyan duty was an expectation, something that came with your membership, kinda like jury duty. It was an integral part of that community, a shared responsibility. Minyan was important. And most people respected that obligation.

As Governor Walz lifts many of the restrictions on gatherings, a committee was formed to explore how our synagogue would reopen. There are so many moving parts, so many aspects to consider for a community that has traditionally served congregational lunch on Shabbat week in and week out. There are so many classes and meetings to consider, so many Twin Cities-wide community events to evaluate that the committee is, understandably, overloaded. And I get that. 

What I didn't get this week, however, was why our little piece of everyday ritual isn't important enough for us to be asked for representation on that committee. We are the ones who are in the building every day... even when it's officially closed on Mondays. We are on site Sunday thru Friday, rain or shine, snow or sub-zero temps. Reopening impacts us more directly than any single group in the shul. And we have discussed this amongst ourselves, trying to figure out how to answer the inevitable question. 

Turns out, the question may not be addressed to us after all. Seems the chairperson did not have the  "bandwidth" to reach out to us.

Yeah, in the greater scheme of things, we are small potatoes. We are just the ones who are there when you need us, when it's your day to say mourner's kaddish. You just expect we will be there to make a minyan.  And we will. We will be there for you because that's what we do. 

If you must know, morning minyan was the light in my shadow 12 years ago. It got me through that horrible, horrible first year without Ziggy. It got me through the death of my father-in-law, and then my parents. Minyan gave me the bandwidth to learn to breathe again after each tragedy. I suspect it does the same for many others. 

When in the course of mourning one feels bereft, untethered, and alone, minyan is there to hold you up, make sure you're breathing, and most importantly, let you know that you are seen. That you are not standing in a shadow.  That you are not invisible.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Covid restrictions may be lifting right now, but general stupidity is not.
Use common sense: wear a mask in crowds 
and be aware:
not everyone who says they are vaccinated actually are. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Catch-up Week: Not much happening

Bodies lined up
I suppose I should be writing about what happened in Israel on Mt. Meron on Lag B'omer last week, but frankly, I do not feel compelled to do so. I have very mixed feelings about what happened. Yes, it was a tragedy. Yes, people, including children, died. But the circumstances that led to those deaths was neither new nor unforeseeable. Mt. Meron on Lag B'omer was a disaster waiting to happen. And now it has. Will it change anything? High unlikely. Don't get me started.

I could write about President Biden's first 100 days in office, but gee, everyone under the sun has already done that. His speech the other night was calm, collected, and borderline boring. Exactly how it should've been. Sure, there were some points that were exaggerated, but nothing in that speech had me jumping outta my chair with steam coming out my ears. In fact, I shared a moment with Cruz....I dozed off at one point. 

The most entertaining part of the evening was the rebuttal by Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) Whoa, there were some whoppers in there. The part about packing the Supreme Court was hysterical. As was the section on voting reform. He did say that America is not a racist country and that President Biden was pulling this nation apart. Wow. Just wow. Where has he been for the last 5 years??????? I'll tell you where: he's been lining himself up to be the Black voice telling Republicans what they want to hear. Near as I can tell, he's not gonna to rock the GOP boat, and the GOP needs a really good looking youngish guy to bolster their image. A match made in evangelical heaven. I'm just not sure the people they want to buy this bull-oney are buying this bull-oney.

yes, that's Kedem grape juice.
On a lighter note, not only did Young Sir get his first haircut last week in time for Lag B'omer, I had him on Friday at my house. We had a great time, and he even had an in-depth phone conversation with his great-uncle, my Big Brother. We took a long walk, picked up some flat rocks, and then painted them. (I'll explain that in a minute.) He helped get the table ready for shabbat, and we all had dinner together. Life doesn't get much sweeter than that....unless, of course, you get to babysit Saturday night because mom and dad are finally having date night with dinner at a restaurant on a patio. I was thrilled. Something normal.  I was so happy for them! And I was even happier when Little Miss removed the book from my hands, made me vacate the story stool, and read her brother one of his bedtime stories. Between Young Sir suddenly looking like a little boy, and Little Miss reading to her brother, I thought my heart would burst.

This is a good time for that. We are counting down the last days of the Omer which means Ziggy's yahrzeit is but a few weeks away. 12 years. That's why we were painting rocks. We will decorate them and put them on Ziggy's headstone. It is unfathomable to me that he does not know these two gigglers. That he never met them. My heart will just have to burst for his, too.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Just because many restrictions are lifted,
we are not all safe from Covid-19 infection.
Be smart. Be safe.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Taking The Knee: A Primer

Much has been written this past week about the guilty verdict for all three counts in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. As well it should be; this was a monumental event in Minnesota not simply because the crime happened here, but because Mohamad Noor, a Somali-American cop was convicted on manslaughter in the case of Justine Diamond, the Australian yoga teacher, without the benefit of body-cam footage, yet Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm in the shooting of Philando Castile, the aftermath of which was recorded by Philando's girlfriend on her phone because she realized she had to document what happened. Not that it helped. 

Why was one convicted and not the other? I am certain there will be endless analysis of the reasons, but I have one of my own.

Taking the knee has long been thought of as an honorable thing to do. Pictures of all sorts of kneeling events litter the art and photography landscape. Usually, when one takes a knee, it is a reverential kinda thing. 

An angel takes the knee in traditional depictions of the Annunciation. 

One takes the knee when one is knighted. 

One takes the knee when one is proposing marriage. 

One takes the knee in prayer 

One takes the knee to beg for mercy.

One can even take the knee when standing up for others.

If you want to send an entirely different message, put your hand casually in your pocket. Let the world know how powerful, cool, and unimpressed you are by that which is happening around you.

But if you really wanna send an I don't give a fuck message, then do this: take a knee on someone's neck for 9 1/2 minutes while the guy begs for mercy saying, "I can't breathe."

This picture is why Derek Chauvin was convicted on all 3 counts of murder: 
depraved indifference.

He just didn't give a fuck about George Floyd's life.

The jury saw it. They knew it. 
And they said NO MORE.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Appearances matter. The visuals matter.
That may be dumb or ridiculous, but that's how bias works.
If nothing aware.

Monday, April 19, 2021

I'm Not Full Of .......

 ...not much of anything at the moment. That's because I had a colonoscopy this morning. This was my third, my second in 3 years. That's because colorectal cancer has made an appearance in our family. This one was fine, only 2 polyps, and they've gone off to pathology. Pre-cancerous polyps are just that....pre-cancerous and that's what we're expecting for these two. The reason you go for colonoscopies is to get rid of any polyps before they have a chance to become cancerous:

These types of polyps are not cancer, but they are pre-cancerous (meaning that they can turn into cancers). Someone who has had one of these types of polyps has an increased risk of later developing cancer of the colon. Most patients with these polyps, however, never develop colon cancer                                                                                                              American Cancer Society

I have several friends who have or are now battling colon and/or rectal cancer. It is not an easy process. It can kill you. It is possible to prevent, slow, and in some lucky cases, have the cancer go into total remission. But nothing is guaranteed. 

Because colorectal cancer appears in my family tree, I went as soon as I was eligible for a colonoscopy. The first one was fine, and I went back in 5 years. The second found polyps, as did this one, hence the 3-year spacing. And I will go back in 3 years again. 

The prep can be revolting. Can be? It is, actually. I don't do sweet things for a lot of reasons, so I am not a fan of large quantities of sweet things. A quarter cup of ice cream is usually my limit. But the stuff you get to drink is so sweet, I thought I was going into a diabetic coma as I slugged the stuff down. Come on, medical people...can't you come up with something flavorless for those of us who don't drink soda...specifically diet soda? 

Which makes me think I understand why American is basically fat. If you have to sweeten this stuff so people can drink it, there are serious food issues here. All that artificial sweetener is just another sugar jones. OMG, the thought of anything sweet after 2-16 ounce containers of that shit makes me want to retch. Seriously. 

The procedure itself was, in its own perverse way, quite lovely...mostly because of the anesthesia involved. All kidding aside, the MnGI people at Eagan are friendly, nice, and laugh at all my pathetic punchlines. They were well prepared for my IV-phobia and the anesthesiologist was a total sweetie when he admitted he didn't like 'em either, was a barfer like me, and said, "We'll start the IV in the procedure room and put you right out, no waiting." He assured me this kind of anesthesia would not make me nauseous...and it did not. I love that man. 

And my GI guy was a total sweetie. He remembered me from last time and said he was glad I was still funny. I asked him if my gown made my ass look fat. God bless him, he said, "No way. Your ass is not fat!" and laughed. I figure if I can get 'em to laugh at the jokes, they're gonna wanna be nice to me. And they are, so I think that's working.

But all joking aside, if you are of a certain age, get a colonoscopy on schedule. It's not a giant deal, but it can save your life.  

And now, I am going back to sleep. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
When conning someone into driving you for this procedure, 
make sure they are capable of laughing at fart jokes. It helps.



It has just been announced that we lost one of the great Minnesotans today,
How much more can Minnesota take in a week?
Baruch Dayan ha'Emet.  May his memory be for a blessing. 

Monday, April 12, 2021


Ah, the ol' Apollo in East Meadow.
I am writing this from under a curfew. Yep. A curfew. The last time I had a curfew, my mother claimed sitting in the Apollo Diner until 3 in the morning drinking coffee and eating rice pudding with my high school girlfriends broke my curfew even though my friends and I were all over 30, married, with husbands and kids. But she insisted that none of us should be out past midnight, and that at midnight, we had all had enough coffee and rice pudding to make us comatose. Good thing we didn't have cell phones in those days. 

Here in town we had some quasi-curfews last spring in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, but we were kinda far from that so whether or not the curfew applied to us was a bit hazy. Not this time. My iPhone issued all sorts of siren warnings that a curfew for the Twin Cities had been ordered by Governor Walz, and they were serious about it. I even got the dreaded "Phone Call Chain Message" from Dakota County Public Safety. Not that I was going anywhere anyway. It is, after all, Monday....Blog Night at the Not-So-Okay Corral. 

I can make light of this, but this is no laughing matter. We are under a curfew because across town, a cop killed a 20-year old Black man in a traffic stop for expired plates and an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror. When they ran his plates, he had a gross misdemeanor warrant for carrying an unlicensed pistol and running away from police last May...which would probably mean during the riots.

Daunte Wright called his mother as he was pulled over. He was scared. She heard it all.

Watch the body cam footage for yourself:

Brooklyn Center's Chief of Police believes that the officer shouted "Taser. taser" but fired her service revolver in error. 

In error?

Just unpack that scenario for a moment. Holsters with revolvers are strapped to a cop's dominant side...which means if you're right handed, the holster is on the right side of your body. A taser is on the left side, the side that is not dominant. How does a reputedly senior officer yell "Taser!" and fire a revolver?

Daunte's crime wasn't a gross misdemeanor violation; it was felony driving while Black aided and abetted by a nice car. He was a young man, driving a late model car, with an air freshener. The part about the misdemeanor came later. 

Katie Wright, Daunte's Mother
By the way, Daunte's mother is white, not that it matters. But how many times do you think she had the walking/driving/shopping while Black talk with her son? She had to learn that reality to protect her child. 
My guess is she had that talk many, many times, and even more after last spring's riots. The sad part is, it didn't matter. He called his mom, and he still was shot by the police. That sound will be with her forever. She will relive it in her dreams. She will second-guess herself, wondering if she could have done more, something, anything that would've stopped that bullet until the day she dies. 

I am the mother of boys. I know their dad had any number of "talks" with them about a variety of issues. But I don't believe he ever had a walking/driving/shopping while white talk with them. We both worried about guys with cars, but not in the same visceral way Daunte's mom or Philandro's mom did. I worried about drunk drivers, driving while distracted, driving while on ice....but never about a cop pulling my kid over and "accidentally" shooting him. 

So, yes, there is anger and looting. I don't know what looting is going to accomplish, but there is violence in the area where Daunte Wright was shot, so everyone is inside tonight. 

Meanwhile, Derek the-cop-with-his-hands-in-his-pockets Chauvin, is a few miles away on trial for the murder of George Floyd. I heard one reporter question as to whether or not this will result in a mistrial for Chauvin since the jury undoubtedly heard the news and will now fear for their lives if they don't convict. Huh? Really?

Can we just ratchet back the bullshit for a while?

Whatever happened to just reporting the news, straight on, no spin? More and more, I think the media is responsible for bad behavior through misleading supposition. Here's a non-relevant example: tonight Lester Holt on NBC nightly news said "Prince Harry is in the UK to attend his grandfather's funeral. His wife will not be attending." Simple statement? Or negative spin?  Ol' Lester made it sound like she was either not invited or boycotting the festivities. Not so, grasshopper. She's very pregnant and her doctor did not sanction the long flight. 

But that's a great example of spinning the tale. Why stir that pot? What important piece of information did Holt provide? He took news and made it negative without saying too much. 

Katie Wright will spend the next few years hearing that her son was a mastermind criminal trying to kill cops instead of the scared kid she heard on the phone asking her for insurance information. Her child will be dragged through the muck because that's what news organs do these days. We studied the evils of Yellow Journalism when I was in junior high. I used to believe newspapers like The New York Times were past that bit of nonsense. I believed in Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Tom Brokaw and that they would tell it to us straight. That seems to be a dying art these days. Meet the Press and Face the Nation are both succumbing to fictionalized news. Chuck Todd is just a moron who by his very presence chips away at the long established gravitas of Tim Russert. And after the august presence of Stahl, Schieffer, and Dickerson, Margaret Brennan gets shriller each week. 

Which, I firmly believe, leads to if-it-bleeds-it-leads kinda national news, the likes of which actually damage the fabric of our country instead of informing us. Propaganda masquerading as Fake News is winning. The gist might be a real story, but the headline sure isn't. I long for the days of Who, What, Where, When, and How....the cornerstones of reporting. The assumption was that if you answered those questions, your story was likely to be true and contain enough information to draw a reasonable conclusion. 

Once. Just once I would like to turn back the clock to the days of Huntley, Brinkley, and Cronkite. I want to hear news delivered as news on the network. I have taken to watching PBS Newshour each night because they come the closest to that ideal. But theirs is a program that makes its own set up assumptions: that the audience has the ability to participate in critical thinking. Most of America is happy to half-listen to pablum before drawing idiot conclusions. You know: garbage in/garbage out.

Of course, none of this will help Katie Wright, or the families of Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Treyvon Martin, and the dozens of others killed by cops who did not understand their job is to protect and serve ALL citizens of these here United States. 

Today, there was a shooting inside a Knoxville, Tennessee high school. The kid fired at the cops and the cops took him out. I'm guessing there is an element of appropriate response in there. But, you gotta see this statement:
"This wasn't a school shooting, this was an officer-involved shooting inside of a school, much different. At this point, the student hadn't done anything with the firearm until the officers engaged."                               Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) Director David Rausch 
Excuse me, but a kid had a gun and discharged it inside the high school. I'm not 100% sure I grok the difference. 

Face it. We are a nation of gun violence, whether it's cops or bad guys. Let's just say that right out in the open. The GOP assholes in congress are screaming about their rights not to wear masks or socially distance, but they don't give a flying fuck about We, the People getting gunned down by homemade guns, bump-stocks, and AR-whatevers. They cherish their twisted version of the second amendment more than their families. They cheered the insurrection because they did not get what insurrection meant, or what it would do to this nation. Of course, this past week, Feckless Loser described the January insurrection at the Capitol as a love-fest gone wrong. They were, after all, he said, "just hugging and kissing" the Capitol police. Sure they were. If you think for one New York minute that those words paired with those actions are not harmful, you have another think coming. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Police shootings, rioters looting, school shooters, insurrectionists in the Capitol 
are not unrelated. A single thread runs through them all. 
If you cannot figure out what that thread is, you need to watch PBS Newshour more often. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Seeing stuff and really SEEING stuff

One of the things I like best about being savta, is taking Little Miss to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. MIA is a really big place and it's full of all sorts of stuff, from ancient stuff to classic stuff to weird stuff. It is an absolute feast...and this is coming from someone who spent way too much time hanging around the Met and the Frick in the City. MIA is not the Met, nor does it pretend to be the Met, but they are a robust institution, responsive to the community, and appropriately whimsical when necessary. One of the things I am looking forward to as the pandemic recedes and life reopens for this retiree is wandering around MIA by myself whenever I feel like it. 

Thursday, Little Miss and I went to MIA for our chol ha'moed adventure. She had been there recently with her mom, so she had a few things she wanted to see again. I had a different agenda, one I was certain she would embrace....and she did. I brought two sketch pads and some pencils for us to share. When she wanted to sit for a bit in front of the fountain, I whipped out the supplies and said, "Let's sketch!"  We talked about what sketching was, what seeing was, and how one puts what one sees on the page. Sitting side by side, we worked in silence. She was still drawing, I was sketching, and when we compared our work, I got to see the light bulb go on. She wanted to know how to make her pencil do what I did, so we did that for a while. We talked about what we each saw, and she mentioned she thought it was good to see other views of the fountain, too.

We walked around the fountain to look at it from all sides. We talked a little about what was different. Then we went upstairs so we could see it from above. All of a sudden we could see coins people have tossed in. We watched people watching the fountain and wondered together about how they saw it.  Was it different from how we saw it?

We wandered some more, took a break to eat our Pesadik picnic lunch outside, then wandered inside some more. So many questions, so many intakes of breath when she spied something beautiful. And so many soft sighs as she wandered through the recreated rooms from England. "I want to go there for real," she said more than once. Six years old....and already planning a trip abroad. I can get behind that thought. After all, she reminded me, she's already been to Ireland, "even if I don't remember anything about it." Why would she? She was still a teeny-tiny baby at the time. But she just renewed her passport, so she's ready to go at a moment's notice. 

Her eyes miss nothing. Watching her seeing is the best thing ever. I know when I see her later this week, there will be some leftover questions. There always are. As she becomes increasingly familiar with MIA, I know the day will come when she says, "I wanna see ....and then I wanna see....."  And we will go look at whatever she wants to see ...and then some. 

Taking her to MIA or to a ballet or to the theater is exactly what I want to be doing for both least when Young Sir is a bit older. I want them to find friends in the arts, to be comfortable in spaces where performance occurs. I want to watch Little Miss step back from a picture, as she did on Thursday, and ask what's she doing? and, without looking at me, awaits the explanation because, after all, Savta knows these things. 

I am over the moon that she has discovered reading for pleasure and is flying through books like mad. I cannot wait to inflict THE FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND HOW THEY GREW on that child. I loved that book. There are so many others my British grandmother conned me into reading, and I want her to read them all. There's a whole world out there to explore from a window seat curled up with a dog. Right now, the look of wonder on her face as she discovers stuff and pieces it all together is priceless. Connections and interconnections are being forged every moment, and sometimes, I even get to see the process. And then, if I'm really lucky, I get to answer some of the questions. 

D'or l'd'or : generation to generation. I get to be a link. How cool is that?

In my world, we are still counting the Omer and I am still aching with every number. Today, in the car, I yelled at Ziggy for not being here to see those two offshoots. And when I stopped yelling, I admitted out loud that I am so damn thankful that I get to go to MIA with Little Miss, and I get to read stories to Young Sir.  

Yeah, some days are easier than others, so I will console myself with the delicious thought that this Friday is a Nanny Day. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
No museum trip is complete without a visit to one's favorite work of art.

Little Miss with our family's favorite statue at MIA

Ganymede and the Eagle by Bertel Thorvaldsen

Monday, March 29, 2021

All the days of your life includes the nights also

 Twelve years ago, Ziggy and I sat at the first seder night at my Cousins L&T. I don't remember much about the seder. All the usual suspects were there...except for the Senior Son who was sedering with cousins in Milwaukee. But Ziggy and I had a secret we were not about to share with anyone there...except Cousins L&T....and that was mostly because T was more than just a relative, he was our doctor. Twelve years later, I still get the pit in my stomach on the first night of Passover. Jews all over the globe may be remembering the exodus from Egypt, but I mostly remember the exodus from the Land of the Living. 

The next morning we went to see an asshole of an oncologist who, without ever meeting our eyes or telling us there were paths to explore, told Ziggy to go home and get his stuff in order because he was going to die. Soon. 

Twelve years later, we are in our second pandemic Pesach. We are lucky because this year our pod of 5 can be together and Senior Son can zoom in again. Little Miss is 6, Young Sir is 3, and both like stories. So while the Haggadah is open before us, we spend much time telling stories. Stories of seders that were, Passovers that were family milestones, and stories about the special Pesach pieces that were on the table. 

empty space for iPad
I told the story of how Saba asked the Four Questions at the first family seder he came to, and how Grandma cried and hugged him. We talked about the matzah cover that same Grandma embroidered for my trousseau, why the silver kiddush cup has a blue enamel interior (to match Bubbe's turquoise ceiling in the kitchen....don't ask.) And the kiddos loved knowing Bumple Senior Son had made the afikomen holder when he was in kindergarten. And how the china was from Bubbe's house, special for Pesach only. 

The seder had most of the usual parts, although somewhat abbreviated for the target audience. I was amazed how my boys not just knew the haggadah really well, but could recite favorite parts at will. I never knew the Junior Son really likes the part about My father was a wandering Aramean...... Or that the senior son (who was sans haggadah) had big chunks memorized. As they reminded their feeble, old mother, they'd been doing this for almost 40 years now, and gee, wouldn't I think they would have a decent command of the seder? I could just hear Ziggy chiding me for the same thing. 

And he would have gone completely gaga for Little Miss who, like her dad, is not a public singing person, as she belted out the Four Questions when we all did it together. She has learned so much this past year! Dayenu was robust and full of gratitude. Of course, Young Sir's rendition of Eliahu Ha'Navi when Elijah the Prophet comes to call at the end of the seder is da bomb. Sitting back and grinning, I could hear the boys and their cousins all singing the same songs at seders long past, and from the depths of my memory came the sounds of brother and cousins singing all the end-of-seder songs with Grandpa Moishe. Oh, how I miss those sounds. The afikomen was hidden and found both nights, prizes distributed, but Young Sir did not quite grasp the art of negotiation. His sister drives a much harder bargain. He'll figure it out. 

But then the morning comes and I remember how much I hate Pesach and the weeks that follow. 

In the Haggadah, there is a section about how to tell the story, and one paragraph hits me between the eyes every time:
Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah said: "I am like a man of seventy years old, yet I did not succeed in proving that the exodus from Egypt must be mentioned at night-until Ben Zoma explained it: "It is said, `That you may remember the day you left Egypt all the days of your life;' now `the days of your life' refers to the days, `all' indicates the inclusion of the nights!"

I always liked that Ben Zoma guy and his explanation about how ALL meant the whole thing, the nights, too. Ziggy and I used to talk about that passage just about every year as we did dishes. We always talked about what it means to remember. Is it active? Is it passive? Is it just a conversation? But it wasn't until he left me alone doing dishes that I fully understood what it meant...and what counting days meant. 

The first day begins the Sefirat ha'Omer, the counting of the Omer. That lasts for seven weeks until Shavuot. 49 days. I was always aware of the omer days; it was on my calendar. Since my consciousness-clock is set to the Hebrew lunar calendar, I automatically counted those days. While I was counting that year, I did not realize what I was counting. I didn't know I wasn't just leaving Egypt that night; I was leaving life as I knew it for over 30 years.

In 2009, Shavuot began on Thursday evening, May 28th. My parents flew in, the Senior Son came home, and shabbat dinner wasn't just shabbat dinner, it was Ziggy's 56th birthday. That Sunday, we had t'nai'im for the Junior Son and the future Mrs. Junior Son because we knew Ziggy was not going to make it to the wedding and this would put his signature on one of their wedding documents. We celebrated as much as we could with a tear in our eyes and a hitch in our breathing. Ziggy held court; close friends and relatives came. And we held our breath, hoping and praying for a miracle that never came. 

7 days later, on the following Sunday, Ziggy left the building. 

Ben Zoma was right. all the days include the nights also.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If you are a Pesach observer, do yourself a favor:
now that the big cooking is done, put away what you don't use.
It makes the end run that much easier.