Tag Archives: judaism

Time to Cry Tuesdays – Grieving is not for Sissies

sod

I know, quite a blog post title to resurface with, but hey, it’s Tuesday. What do you expect?

I like to find the humor in most situations. This grief thing is surely putting a damper on my style, but I work hard at trying to find a way to laugh when I can.

Today I have hit new heights. Amongst the odds and ends of things on my to-do list today, snuggled nicely between ‘call to have the sprinkler system serviced’ and ‘fax e-file forms back to the accountant’ sat this ominous listing:

Call the cemetery to inquire about the sod issue.

Really? The sod issue? Why should there be an issue about sod when we are talking about a grave. Should grass not be a given? Shouldn’t our lowest expectation of a cemetery be that they would lay some sod on a final resting place (Yes, I realize this sounds like a cemetery marketing piece) Apparently not, because they told my Dad that they only lay sod in the fall. So, I decided to call them myself and get to the bottom of this.

First call yielded a recording:

We are experiencing unusually high call volume at this time. Please try again later. (seriously!!!! People dying to get in today… ba dum bum)

Second try:

Me: I am calling about having sod put down on a grave for an unveiling* in June.

Her: I am sorry, we only lay sod in the fall. If we lay it in the spring and we have a hot day, it burns. And we care for it if we put it down.

Me: Were we told that last spring at the funeral (as if we would remember). Or did you send us a notice, like ‘hey, if you don’t want a dirt grave for your loved one you need to order sod in the fall’

Her: No, we don’t.

Me: Hmmm, you might want to consider putting that in your packet. Can we put down our own sod?

Her: Yes, but you will have to take care of it.

Me: Do you have a sprinkler system (yes, after I said that I realized it is probably unlikely and frowned upon to start digging in a cemetery, but I had a momentary loss of rational thought from this conversation)

Her: We do not. Your other option is that you can wait till the fall and we can rent you a grass matt for the unveiling for $10 a square…

with this I sort of lost my mind and said:

Me: Are you kidding me?! More fees! This is like a Larry David.

Her: Who is Larry David?

Me: OMG… Seinfeld? The Larry David Show? Ring a bell?

Her: Oh, never heard of him. Never watched it.

Me: That’s too bad. Ok, so basically you are telling me that my father, who is in his mid 80s, will have to lay sod himself on his wife’s grave so we don’t have to look at the same raw dirt that was there the day of the funeral. And if we want said sod to stay alive, we should drive there a couple of times a week from Long Island to New Jersey to water it. And this you do not find both horrifying and hysterical at the same time.

Her: Well, when you put it that way…

Me:  You should REALLY see if you can find re-runs of Larry David.

Yeh, grieving is not for sissies, indeed.

*Unveiling: Within the first year after the passing of a loved one, mourners and their family gather at the gravesite for a ceremony called the Unveiling, the placing of the tombstone. At this event, a grave marker is put into place and the monument is formally dedicated.

Source: shiva.com. (who knew there was such a url?)

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Filed under humor, loss, religion, Time to Cry Tuesdays, Uncategorized

Time to Cry Tuesday – Want and Need

wantneed

This might be the first post ever to combine Dave Matthews and the Jewish Holidays; but that seems fitting since this is a post about firsts.

Here we are – playing holiday dominoes – with those of the tribe watching Labor Day cascade into Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

This particular holiday is a tough one for our family. We are still stumbling through the ‘firsts’… the things we are doing for the first time without my mom. Although three and half months have passed, it seems like both a moment and a lifetime. Just when I think I have found my footing, my new normal, my ability to feel sad but somewhat whole, it hits me. I have avoided sharing here but somehow this seems the right thing to do, so here goes.

Although no one can stop me from starting to circle the drain, there is always someone there to grab my hand and pull me out. I have my army of grief guides; my friends who have been there and let me know with their steely strength that I will, in fact, make it through. In spite of myself and because of them.

I am beyond fortunate.

Yesterday I had just finished the massive guerrilla food shop. I was cleaning chickens to make my soup and as I was doing it I thought of how when I was first married I could not bear to clean a chicken and my mom used to laugh with me on the phone as I did it to talk me through. And it hit me. Hard. The drain, she was a- calling me to circle to the left.

And then the phone rang. My Rabbi! Seriously, do they learn this in rabbinic school? Do they become hyper-trained to sense the drain circling? Or was it a coincidence? I think not. He also called on her birthday without knowing it. Both times to check on me; to make me try to find the sweet in all the bitter. To hold my hand so I would not succumb to that proverbial plumbing.

I am beyond fortunate.

And then I had a nice long phone visit with my mom’s best friend since childhood – Aunt Arlene (who is not my aunt), as we called her. Her laugh, her stories, her way… all a piece of my mom. As we talked about how much we missed her I felt another hand reach through the phone to keep me from slipping down those pesky pipes.

What I want, is what I’ve not got. But what I need, is all around me.

Wishing all who celebrate a sweet new year. And all who are grieving the strength to stay away from the plumbing during the holidays.

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Filed under aging parents, friendship, holidays, loss

Jewish Hippies Rejoice

Matzolah

If you are celebrating Passover and are sticking to strict dietary laws of no leavened products, this matzoh-style granola will surely give your little hippie heart a thrill. And it’s made by Foodman! Does he have the help of Foodwoman?

I love the description:

Matzo (everyone spells it their own way, like Hannukah) Granola Breakfast & Nosh.

It’s sort of like my grandmother wrote that.

Thanks to my bro for sending me this one today. It made me smile. And oddly gave me a craving to stick my hand in that container and walk around barefoot in the streets with flowers in my hair singing Grateful Dead tunes…

in hebrew.

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Filed under family, food, holidays

Time to Cry Tuesday – I Am Jewish

I struggled with whether to post this here, and whether to use its title. Not for any other reason than I believe that there are certain topics that are personal. Ones that are sacred and are not about link love, blog traffic or public discussion. I have always held to the idea that religion is either something you are born into or you choose. And sometimes it is something that you consciously choose to abandon. I do not think it is something that should be pushed on others, used to breed hatred or a vehicle to define someone. Sadly all three are the root of some of the most horrifying chapters in history.

All that said, this public declaration of what it means to this young man to ‘be a Jew’ moved me to tears. Even more so as he is someone that my kids know from camp. I have written about this camp here before, many times, and its effect on our children and ourselves. The core of this place is its pride, the sense of belonging, of being part of a tribe.

See where I am going with this? In this crazy world of ever-changing social rules with its constant shifting of how we live our daily lives and relate to one another, there is something so important about that sense of belonging. It breeds the most important thing of all – a sense of self. It is easier to thrive with the continuity of something that you can count on; something that makes you feel ‘at home’.

I relate to the words of this young man. I am not a religious Jew, Judaism is simply part of the fabric of who I am. I do not live a ghettoized life – hey some of my best friends are Goyim (ok you had to be a Jew or around them to get that joke, and yes it is counter to everything I am saying here. Hey, I am a wiseass, what can I say). To a highly religious Jew I might not be considered Jewish. And yet it matters not.

This video is the embodiment of a young suburban Jewish man who has fallen victim to every stereotype and yet is still able to articulate his Jewishness. He is considered hip and current yet the content of his message would hold true even when my dad was his age.

He does not preach. He does not try to convert. He does not ask you to validate his Judaism or to argue its validity.

It is simply a declaration.

I am pretty sure this would translate to any culture or religion, and I am equally sure that the parodies of this video will be abundant in the weeks to come because… well, because that is what social media breeds. However, I do not think that any of that will dilute its message.

Enjoy, and feel free to comment.

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Filed under communities, religion, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Time to Cry Tuesday – Sitting Shiksa

sitting-shiksa2No, there is not a typo in that headline. Keep reading and you will see what I mean.

This past week one of my dearest friends – my wife of sorts –  lost her dad. She and I are known somewhat as the Lucy and Ethel of our community. Our antics are legendary (in our minds, anyway). The following is an adaptation of an email that I sent to our friends:

After a long period of compromised health, my friend’s dad cried uncle and died peacefully. Unfortunately, she was away on vacation with her daughter and had to return quickly to make arrangements. As you can imagine this has been a very difficult time for her. But I am happy to report her sense of humor and love of life is fully intact. Read on.

She will be going to Arizona for a first memorial service on Sunday and then to Boston on March 3rd where she and her brother will have his ashes buried next to her mom, hopefully in an ‘uneventful’ ceremony. Not a chance! (note: as with all families there is the predicted drama that is hard to avoid)

As her life is here in NY now, we know that there are many that want to pay their respects to her since she is always there for everyone else. Only our dear friend, in her grief, could call me this morning with this novel and frankly hysterical request. Let me share our conversation:

Friend: Hi, it’s me again. I decided you are right and I need to do something here.

Me: That’s great, what did you have in mind?

Friend: I think I would like to ‘Sit Shiksa’!

Me: That could be the funniest thing I have ever heard.

Friend: Oh and tell people to forget the boxes of cake, bring wine and have a drink with me to celebrate my dad’s life.

For those who are not ‘of the tribe’, when someone dies in the Jewish religion we sit Shiva. Shiva meaning ‘seven’ in Hebrew, we receive guests in our home to pay their respects for 7(ish) days. (it’s complicated)

Figuring that 7 days of guests would surely put her husband in a psych unit, sitting Shiksa will be an afternoon ordeal. Shiksa, on the other hand, means ‘woman who is not a Jew’. Of course we all know that our friend is a Jew by association by now as she has been to more Bar Mitzvot and Shiva calls than most Jews by birth.

Please join their family, not to mourn, but celebrate the life of the man who fathered our dear friend. One hell of a guy and a man who always loved a good party. He will surely be there with us.

If you have friends of mixed marriages, or live in a diverse community, pass this on. There are few that hear it who cannot relate.

Here is to my dear friend, who can truly make lemonade out of ANY situation in life. And who always keeps me laughing, even through her tears. When she married our dear friend, she married us too. And she has been a hell of a good sport about it for the past 20 years. We love you babe. May your grieving be cathartic and know we will love you forever.

Sitting on my desk is a framed piece you gave me years ago:

Friends are the family you choose.

I choose you!

Haven’t had enough of me yet? You can also read me at 50-Something Moms Blog.

For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.

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Filed under communities, friendship, relationships, Time to Cry Tuesdays