Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quote for the Week

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Grandmother's Best Weekend

This past weekend was my granddaughter Gabriella's Bat Mitzvah. When a Jewish child is 13, he or she celebrates becoming an adult member of the community by reading from the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) for the first time and leading the congregation in prayer. The picture above is Gabby, on the left, and Lauren, her partner who also celebrated her Bat Mitzvah.

The ceremony begins on Friday night when the girls chant prayers and lead responsive readings. After that the families have a Sabbath dinner. Monica, Gabby's mom, toasts her at dinner.

Gabby gave her dad, Michael, a hug after dinner.

Saturday is the most special, when the Bat Mitvah girl reads a portion from the Torah. Here's Gabby, looking a bit nervous, arriving at the temple.

Gabby holding the Torah, with Mom and Dad.

Saturday night was a party, mostly for kids, at Lucky Strikes, which has bowling, pool, and dancing to very loud music.

Bowling alley, with video loop of Gabby at the end.

For a grandmother, this weekend could not have been more special. To see my beloved granddaughter take her place among her people, to hear her voice as she chanted from the Torah, to see how she has grown from a little girl to the beginning of young womanhood, from a kid who didn't take her Bat Mitzvah very seriously and her journey to understanding the true meaning of this weekend, was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It brought me tears of joy and pride. What more could a Nana ask?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quote for the Week

A life unlived is like a book without words. Old Proverb

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The New Normal--It's Not Just for Widows

I've read many books about widowhood. My bookshelf is overflowing with volumes that tell you how to adjust, how to be a good widow. Many of them point out that one has to adjust to a "new normal." You have to accept that life won't ever be the same, that things are diffferent now; your life continues but in a new way. Reading this, you may think I disagree. I don't. My life is the same but different, but over the six years I've been widowed that difference has become "normal."

It occurred to me the other day that not just widowhood, but every transition we go through, takes us to a new normality. Remember your first day in elementary school? I was so terrified, I threw up before we left the house. After a while, I grew to love school--I learned to read Dick and Jane, I learned to write my name (The first time I saw the lower case l in Thelma I was astounded. What happened to the line at the bottom that was supposed to go sideways)?

Remember when you started college? My parents dropped me off at my dorm, helped me unpack and left. Long after that, my mom said I had the same look on my face as our dog did when we dropped him off at the vet.I know, not very flattering but it was true. I was starting anew. Would I manage? Of course I did, and along with T.S. Eliot and Ralph Waldo Emerson, I learned a lot of new words I'd never heard in my house and did not dare use in front of my mother when I went home at Thanksgiving.

Remember when you were suddenly a married person? A mother? A mother (please let me forget those days)of a teenager? Every transition brings a new kind of life, a new kind of normal. The trnasition to widowhood wasn't one I'd have chosen--I figured Ralph would manage being widowed a lot better than I would--but that's what I got. I'm living with it, and I think--I hope--I'm doing a pretty good job.

What about you? What "new normals" have you faced and overcome?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quotes for the Week: Daylight Saving Time

I'm still sleepy from losing that hour Sunday to daylight saving time. Here are some quotes about the time change:

"Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of the blanket and have a longer blanket." — Attributed to "an old Indian" when told the reason for daylight-saving time.

"The beauty of daylight-saving time is that it just makes everyone feel sunnier." »Edward Markey, quoted in Associated Press, July 22, 2005

It's Barack Obama stealing an hour of my time to distribute it to poor people. Oh, I know they say you get your hour back in the fall, but who's earning the intrest on that hour in the meantime? Stephen Colbert

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reminder from Another Widow

Isn't it great when you connect with someone you've just met? I chatted last week with another widow I'd been introduced to at an event. We traded "widow" stories. Both of us had been cast into the depths of despair and both of us agreed we''d managed to survive and even thrive. At the end of our conversation she said, "Just remember, live every day to the fullest."

Remember when Hindu widows in India used to commit suttee--throw themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres. It's no longer a custom, but many of us commit figurative suttee by not giving ourselves permission to go on "living" once we're widowed. We have to make the most of whatever time we have left Even amidst loneliness and grief, we can find strength.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

February Books of the Month

As usual, my reading diet is eclectic: one non-fiction, one thriller, one book club choice.

Getting Old is a Full Time Job by Susan Lieberman. Susan, a friend and fellow member of The Transition Network, has tackled retirement and aging from the perspective of jobs appropriate to that stage of life, including Director of Physical Planning, Relationship Coach, and Pain Consultant. A wise and inspiring book.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. Amnesia is a popular theme in genre stories. Here it's taken to the extreme. Christine wakes up every day, unaware of who she is, where she is, how old she is... Imagine being in that state. As the story unfolds, a doctor begins helping her record the memories she unearths each day so she can look back at her journal and understand her life. Full of twists and turns, the book keeps you interested until the rather contrived ending.

The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee. A book club choice, it takes place in Hong Kong beginning just before World War II and in Hong Kong during the Fifties, with several recurring characters. The best thing about the story was the sense of place. Hong Kong comes alive for the reader. Not so the characters. Most of our group couldn't care for any of them. This is a first book; hopefully later books by this author will be better.

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