My Grandmothers

My Grandmothers

They left shtetl and city,
crossed an ocean,
one as a child, one as a teen,
I know them only from stories—
she witnessed a pogrom,
she later eloped. The bed her spiteful mother-in-law
gave her and my grandfather gave way
on their wedding night. From their passion,
I like to think.
She taught my mother how to cook
“American food.”
She died from a then inoperable brain tumor.

She had five sisters, like Tevye’s daughters,
without the matchmaker. Or cow. They all sewed,
a skill not passed along to my mother or me.
She had a beautiful voice,
and more than one miscarriage.
She died in car crash. Seatbelts her legacy.

I carry these tidbits
like notes scrawled on scraps of paper,
tucked into a pocket and found later
when looking for something else.

But I have only one memory,
one short clip played on a loop,
generations of curly-haired women, my baby sister
and me–
a bathroom mirror in a Philadelphia apartment
reflecting their—our—images.
Me taking it in. This is what we do—talk, laugh, love.
I remember.

This is for Sarah’s dVerse prompt on grandmothers. The prompt got me thinking–a first draft.

A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

Monday Morning Musings:

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“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”

 

“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”

–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

 

Fantastically, wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration,

a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.

A notion hatched by H.

on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.

Younger daughter and I already had plans

because we like things set in advance,

definite, not tentative,

BUT

we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration idea,

despite the weather forecast.

Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?

(My first question to H.)

Texts and phone calls back and forth.

 “Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”

(Daughter says to me.)

So plans evolve.

We’ll travel in the morning,

have lunch there

and return home early to avoid the traffic.

Husband and I will still get together

with daughter and her husband later for dinner.

A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,

a beach day for my mom.

 

Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.

It’s a Seinfeld episode,

or any sitcom,

the human comedy,

the comedy of errors

What could possibly go wrong?

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My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.

We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.

We park.

The downpour begins.

I text the others

We’re here.

We’re sitting in the car

Waiting for the rain to stop.

Trying to be optimistic.

Oh, I hear thunder now.

Daughter replies

There’s a flood watch in effect.

All day.

But the skies clear,

the sun comes out

and my husband and I walk to the beach.

The sun is shining.

The beach looks washed and clean.

It is beautiful.

Daughter and her husband arrive.

They have met

H., her family, and my mom,

who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.

They will have lunch there.

We have packed our lunch,

but I expect we’ll see them soon.

Daughter and I walk on the beach,

walk and talk,

gazing at the ocean

looking at the gulls,

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watching people,

the little boy who wanders in circles,

shovel in hand,

smile on face,

I keep expecting H. to text me

so we can help them

get my mom onto the beach.

I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.

But no text.

We return to our beach chairs.

Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,

she takes one bite,

I hear a scream,

a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.

Scary, but kind of amazing.

We wait for H.,

and watch dark clouds moving in.

We wonder where they are,

she hasn’t answered the texts.

It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.

A beach checker comes by.

Do you have beach tags?

We don’t.

We decide to pack up,

and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.

Daughter sees them then–of course.

H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.

My mom can’t get into it.

So my mom holds H’s arm on one side

mine on the other, and

we begin a slow walk over sand,

a few feet that seem like miles.

H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,

and it begins to rain.

My husband and daughter have packed up our things.

We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,

feeling guilty,

but it stops raining.

at least for a time.

 

In the evening, after showers and rest

my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine

with our daughter and her husband,

dog and cat sitting with us companionably.

We watch an old Star Trek movie,

it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,

but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over

the creepy Borg Queen,

love, friendship, kindness, and creativity

trump evil,

humanity will be saved

once again,

a comforting thought.

I haven’t heard yet what happened

with H., her family, and my mom.

I hope they had a great time on the beach.

It’s a fantastically, improbable idea

but one worthy of consideration.