a Jewish song dedicated to people we love who are no longer physically with us
There are stars up above
So far away we only see their light long
long after the star itself is gone
And so it is with the people that we loved.
Their memories keep shining
though their time with us is done.
But the stars that light up the darkest night
these are the stars that guide us
As we live our days these are the ways we remember,
As we live our days these days we remember, we remember.
– Hanah Senesh
When I was a wee little lassie, a toddler actually, my grandma lived on the other side of our house aka a duplex.
The basement was shared, but there was a wall built just past the furnace, and the door of it had a lock on each side. Sometimes, if the door was open, I could go down the steps on our side, go around the huge coal furnace, then feel my way up the steps on Grandma’s side. One of my most early memory, being at the top of the steps as she stood at the sink. Startled her, the first time I seem to have had that honor.
My mother reports there were times when I would announce that I was running away from home. I would go out our back door, down off the porch, cross the yard, then stand at Grandma’s back door and yell for her. Perhaps I had not been taught that polite people knock on a door. Even then, it was easier to be company for Grandma than put up with my mother.
This time of year, when the gardens were producing at full speed, Grandma was the canning chief. She could bark orders at daughters, grandkids, son-in-law, and everybody would do whatever we were told! We didn’t always like it, but rarely questioned, because we did not want to prolong the pain.
I remember sitting with a bowl in my lap, breaking green beans, and watching her criticize methods at somebody washing jars in the sink.
I envied her ability to have us all doing such things. My dad said being aboard ship in the Navy was easier than working with his mother-in-law in the heat of the kitchen.
In his secret heart, Dad loved all of it. And Grandma did, too.
When my husband and I were first married, living in married student housing, I took my own toddler up the road to pick blackberries. In the tiny kitchen of the apartment, with toddler underfoot, I managed to make the juice, wash the jars, measure the sugar, and all the other needs to produce 7 jars of jelly. As it was, I used 2 of those jars to barter haircuts for me and the kid.
Oh how I wished to have someone else there as an assistant, to look after the kid, to wash out the pan… some small form of camaraderie for a task well done.
Alas, this is not to be. Very soon into our relationship, I realized my spouse is not one to take orders. If given a task, he has to put his own little touch on it so that it comes out a bit different than I like, and rarely ever gets it done as soon as I want it. He says I want my own way too often, and seem to make everything into an emergency.
I didn’t do much canning until my sons were old enough to help with some of it. And that’s when the genetics showed up in the younger boys, who balk at doing something just for being told to do it, and it takes too long to give explanations. Plus we had a dishwasher machine by then, so washing jars got alot easier.
Nowadays, my canner pot has been in the storeroom for years, and I gave away 6 boxes of jars to a lady who has a booth at a farmer’s market every week. She and her siblings and offspring know how to work together! That family is not my family.
One time when my mother-in-law was visiting here, she watched my husband doing something, turned to me and said he looked and acted just like his father.
I don’t think it was meant in a bad way, and I know it’s true, but all hell broke loose. Getting a diagnosis of Attention Deficit shone a whole new light on our living circumstances. Our family on all sides has quite a history of crazyness.
Been thinking of Grandma’s ability to have everybody co-operating. She had a whole passel of kids of her own, helped her sister’s girls, then went to live with her daughter Sylvia to help raise grandkids. My Uncle John’s funeral was almost the first I remember. How old was I? Kindergarten? wait, there was somebody before then, on dad’s side.
I grew up with relatives all over my small hometown by the river, and we were always doing something at one house or another. If not chores, then having a party, and family was the first called to be invited.
Perhaps I grew to resent all those folks playing busybody. I was glad to find a guy to marry who was not from the Ohio Valley. But we do not share duties well. If he is doing a task, I can sit and watch and be quiet, or not be around at all. The day our king-size bed was delivered, he told me to be sure to accept a TA Sub job.
He and son Chris did all the prep work.
Chris has moved back here to our house. We have the bedroom, kitchen, electricity, water. But it is awkward, this living with a grown kid. For the last 4 summers, I’ve had a personal routine regarding hook/yarn time, running the vacuum cleaner, playing music, loads of laundry. It was only me and the cats all day long while head-of-household was out at his job, and this summer would be minus Mahalia, making it even more easygoing without her medicine schedule.
But the kid sleeps late, so there goes time in the cool of the morning with vacuum cleaner. Dust mop is more quiet, but less detail. I want to start a load of laundry just as the shower curtain closes.
He and his girl like to watch movies late in the evening, after she is done with her job. Closing our bedroom door to keep out the light and sound makes it so hot in there, plus old Oscar needs to go out to the litter box.
We are still making adjustments. And I am whining to the max.
Grandma didn’t complain to me, even as she got older. I’m sure she often found herself in a place she didn’t expect, and managed to still get along with people around her.
Even while living with them.
~~love and Huggs, Diane