Choking on words

the words I want to say are caught in my throat…my country ”tis of thee….tiki torches lighting hateful nights…

My beloved dog has liver damage from the drugs that saved her life…love one another as I have loved you….we have no leader…I am ashamed.

Too many flags, too little dignity….my husband and I are growing old and still in love…the lady weeping in the harbor…the white hats in Syria.


I need a mammogram…two crazy men with silly haircuts, yelling across frightened people with death in their hands… throat tight with tears

My country, these beautiful forests burning,  ”tis of thee.  I try to speak, but the lump of emotion gets in the way,

And I am choking.

Easter 1987

I watched him edging down a side aisle, toddler tethered to the safety of his father’s hand. A candlelighter on that Easter day, rowdiness contained by new clothes and solemn purpose.

Cropped hair damp across his forehead, cheeks flushed pink, he waited his turn in the warm, familiar circle of his father’s arms.

Hymns spun out in the air above the candles.  He moved, his time arrived, away from father to something new and ancient all at once.

Plump, sturdy legs carried him up three marble steps to the candleholder. He grasped his unlit candle, took flame from the neighboring taper, then thumped it  firmly down, and turned away.

Still, drawn by the lure of this first, solemn task, he stopped, looking back across one shoulder to where his candle brightly flickered.

A thousand brittle creeds shattered. Easter was the hope in those clear eyes.



My Yiddishse Mama ( nearly)

She came into my life in 2000, when I began dating her Jewish but unobservant son, whom I would marry.

She had hair the color of apricots, read a book a day, spoke three languages and (I claimed) survived on dust and tea.  She organized massive tours to the Berkshires every summer, headed up the Hadassah group at her temple, gave monthly book reviews, had run a camp for young women for years, shook the hand of Eleanor Roosevelt, and was married to Joseph, a New York Police Lieutenant, the love of her life.  I never got to meet him.  He died on Christmas day, 1999. She maintained a kosher home, but ate in restaurants, choosing carefully from the menu to keep the spirit of the law.

When I had heart surgery, she would make a Mi Sheberach, a special prayer for health, at shul.  When asked for my mother’s name (Mary), she would substitute Miriam.  Close enough.  She was, as my husband said, a big tent Jew.

She traveled from Brooklyn to St. Louis for our wedding. She comforted me that day when I talked to my dad on the phone.  He had so wanted to be there, but he was too frail.

She was a cheek-pinching, eat, eat, eat Jewish mom.  When I asked to accompany her to shul, she was thrilled. We sat in the front row.  I became so enthralled with the reading of the Torah that I failed to realize that EVERONE else had sat down and left me, the tall Gentile, standing.  I asked her why she didn’t poke me, she replied, “I wanted everybody to get a good look at you.”

If you think I am writing this because she has died, you are wrong.  She is alive, at 95, with Alzheimer’s. Her bright, creative self, her sly sense of humor, her brilliant mind, are gone.  But I was blessed to know her when she was her big tent Jewish mama, and she treated me like a daughter.