Ghosts linger around my Passover table 


The Passover of 2016 was tinged with sadness because I couldn’t help thinking of my childhood.  My parents and grandparents faded from sight; one right after the other, mostly without warning.

Grandma was a small, stout lady, with a face that I can’t really ever forget because I look so much like her, especially in my 66th year. My grandfather, was short in stature, but high on everyone’s respect list. He had a head full of beautiful white hair.

I remember going along with my tall, handsome, adored daddy to pick them up at their apartment. My grandmother would have her coat on, and announce to my grandfather that “the machine is outside, and it was time to go.” Why she didn’t just refer to it as the car was a mystery to me. I do remember she wore red old-fashioned shoes, a longish skirt, and a long sleeve blouse. She always carried a  black purse that held Dentyne gum. She would offer this special treat randomly to all her grandchildren.

We’d arrive at my house where we ate the standard dinner we always ate at holidays, it didn’t really matter which one. Mom was in charge and she didn’t appreciate any help.

There was always chopped liver and matzah ball soup, my mother’s tie to her ethnic background. We’d all gathered around  the kitchen table, my grandparents sitting next to each other on one side, my mother, wearing her blue apron, always up during the meal serving us.  My father and

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

two sisters and I would take our familiar seats. It was usually turkey, sometimes a roast, salad, sweet potatoes, and a vegetable.

The Seder I remember was not too formal. I do remember my grandfather singing some prayers. He had a beautiful voice that I can almost hear when I close my eyes and concentrate.

Little did I know that one day my grandparents and parents would be long gone, but their presence would always linger; they’re always around me, like a loving purple aura.

This year I particularly missed them all, but I’m grateful for the love that is still there.

 

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Remembering my father (and mother) on Father’s day


My parents before they were married.

My parents before they were married.

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I close my eyes in my bedroom, and pretend, only for a minute, that I’m back home in my old bedroom. I visualize where the bed was, my dresser, and the closet.  I think about where the other rooms of the house were situated and what they looked like.

Sometimes, when I’m remembering, I hug the pillow and remember how it felt to hug my parents. How comforting it was, and how safe and loved I used to feel with them.

I had a special relationship with both of them. I was the baby of the family and lived alone with them from the age of 13. I did miss having my two newly married sisters living with us, but I enjoyed hanging out with my old parents. We went out to eat a lot, saw movies, and attended the theater. (My old parents were somewhere in their late 40’s and early 50’s.)

Sometimes, I try to remember them talking in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. I can see my mother sitting at the table, newspaper not too far from her. (She loved to read that newspaper cover to cover.) My father is standing up, probably doing some chore. They’re talking about his job, or what they’re going to do in the future.

I can almost hear the comfortable din of their voices. She saying, “Hank, why don’t you get some blintzes from Solomon’s?” (We used to get blintzes from the local delicatessen every Sunday.) Before he ever left the house he would always give her a quick kiss. Before too long he’d come back with the scrumptious Solomon blintzes. All my mother had to do was heat them on the stove.

After we eat our blintzes, my father is going to go out and do outside chores like mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow. He might run some errands.

Sometimes, I’d tag along with him. I was crazy about my father. He’d talk to me like an equal, and was a good listener. He always made me feel loved and important.

He had a friend who owned a car wash, so about every weekend I’d go with him to watch the car get cleaned. I’d carefully watch the car go through the stages, while he kidded around with his friend. I could see that Dad could get along with everyone.

I had an acquaintance whose parents were divorced, and the father would take the kids somewhere special every Sunday. I didn’t know it was because they were divorced. (In those days people kept divorces quiet.) So, I kept pleading with my dad take me out on Sunday without my mother. He did it once. We went to the planetarium at the Cleveland Science museum. We looked up at the pretend stars in the planetarium and listened to the lecture. I loved having my daddy all to myself. (I only hope my mother wasn’t too hurt.)

My parents sometimes took me to a local amusement park, Euclid Beach. My mother would park herself on a bench and my dad would go on rides with me in the park. This was a big feat for him because he was really not too crazy about amusement park rides.

One time we got on a ferris wheel and before it started, he asked the ride attendant to let us off. Another time we were on an Over the Falls” ride and the power went out. We were stuck on the ride for about 20 minutes. I wasn’t worried cause I was with my dad. (Years later, he told me he was nervous about my mother being alone, and us getting stuck on the ride.)

My dad  always took time to get dressed for work as a Cleveland Policeman. After he shined his shoes, and put on his uniform with the golden badge, and completed it with his hat, he didn’t look like Daddy anymore; he looked liked a king. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world to have such a good-looking, important father.

My parents were so close, that I can’t remember my father on this Father’s Day without including both my parents.

Happy Father’s Day to them both, wherever their souls ended up. If there is such a place, I have no doubt that they are together.

Homeless in America: the HBO special: The Orange county kids


Last night I watched the show, “Homeless in America.” It was about the working poor who were living in a hotel in Orange County, California. It focused on the family’s children.

The families they focused on had jobs: one lady worked as a nurses aid, one guy worked at Target, and other jobs working from 9-12.00 an hour. They were the working poor.

This hotel wasn’t the best environment for the kids. They could tell you in detail who was taking drugs, and why the police were coming. It was sad that such little kids were so worldly.

The documentary showed how these kids had to share spare living quarters with their families. They had to keep their clothes in crowded spaces. (One family had 4 little dogs living with them. This made no sense. Why would she be feeding dogs when her kids were in such need? Never owned a dog, I don’t quite get it.)

The rest of the people were really trying to stress values. I thought one mother was way too Continue reading

Don’t ever leave your key in the ignition when a toddler is in the car


The day my daughter took my her little brother for a ride in a mini-van

 

I will never forget the day my daughter figured out how to drive. She was around 3. I went in the house to get something, and left my kids in the car for only a  minute or two.  Somehow my daughter maneuvered her way into the driver’s seat. (In those days she wasn’t required to sit in a child’s seat.)  She also figured out how to turn the key sitting in the ignition of the van.

 

When I came out of the house, the big van was rolling down the driveway. My daughter looked like she wasn’t a bit surprised that she was powering the car down the driveway.  I ran to the open window of the driver’s side. I looked back. My son was in his baby seat looking like it was perfectly normal for his big sister to be driving him down the driveway.

 

I ran and tried to get to the steering wheel, but I couldn’t get to it.  The car was going very slowly. It ran over my foot. I still kept going. We went out the driveway heading for my neighbor’s car parked in their driveway across the street. I ran and ran. Finally I got to the steering wheel and pushed it toward the parked position. We were 1/2  inch from my neighbors car.

 

It was like being in the movies. I was so relieved!  The only consequence was my foot hurting for a couple of weeks.

 

But this could have been a real tragedy. A car could have been coming down the street, or she could have run into my neighbor’s car. I recently heard of a case where the outcome wasn’t so good. A woman left her key in the ignition and as a result the child had an accident and is now brain damaged. That sad story reminded me of this past incident.

Steering Wheel

Steering Wheel (Photo credit: Wikiped

 

Lesson: don’t ever leave your kid in the car by themselves with the key in the ignition. Not even for one second.

 

Kids are smarter than you think.

 

Would you really want to live forever?


Today I  went to an interesting discussion class. One of the questions asked was:  “If it was possible, would you want to live forever?”

My answer, “yes, of course!” Some of the people thought there’d be too much pain involved with living into eternity. Let’s face it, no matter who you are, you’re going to get your fair share of disappointment and pain. On the other hand, you’re going to experience happiness too.

One of my beliefs is that when you are gone, that’s it. Lights out.  I don’t really believe in souls floating or going to a “better place.” I just think you cease to exist. I don’t remember the world before I was born, so I figure I won’t know about it after I’m gone.

i do like to entertain the possibility that maybe I’m wrong. Now, that would be a pleasant surprise, and I’ll be happy if I’m wrong.

I’m not afraid of dying because I know it’s part of the cycle.

There is a pre-teen book, Tuck Everlasting, which address this very issue. It’s for older kids and is excellent. It shows kids that living forever would get tiresome. Maybe so?

So, my question is this? If you had the chance, would you want to live forever?

Why or why not?