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.




Laughing in the darkness


IT ‘s been a rough couple rough couple rough, I say, rough


been a rough couple of months.

It began with my husband’s elective surgery to repair a major heart valve.

Open heart elective surgery.  He was in the cardiac ICU. He began bleeding so badly they had to take him back for open heart surgery again.  This time, not elective.

there was a brief stint in rehab, which for some reason he blamed me for.  (Anesthetic hangover?)

Then he came home.  For ten hours.

That ended when I called 911, shortly after which his eyes rolled back in his head and he stopped breathing.

Back in the ICU, he was diagnosed with pneumonia (definitely not elective).

After some time (it is mostly a blur), he came home, coughing and wheezing.  He is still being visited at home 2x a week by the nurse.  He also sees a physical therapist at home, and saw an occupational therapist a couple of times.


Suddenly, my beloved standard poodle Billie, began having a nosebleed.  Our regular vet came and said she needed to go to the hospital.

She was there two days and was diagnosed with IMT, an auto immune blood disorder.  It is serious stuff.  She is on Prednisone and a couple of other drugs.  If she doesn’t make it, I will die. (Not elective.)

All this time, Donald Trump has been President.  I blame him for this.

(he was really non-elective.)



Chickenshit and Me

Chicken shit has played a far greater role in my life than I ever imagined.

My cousin Sandy and I on my Uncle Burt and Aunt Grace’s  farm in 1946 or so
Immediately following this seemingly bucolic shot of us, something drastic happened.  You can just begin to see in Sandy’s expression the beginning of protest that I had a deathgrip on the very kitten she wanted to hold.
The adults retreated back into the house, and trouble escalated quickly.  Suddenly, I let the kitten go because I was hit soundly with the most abundant weapon handy.  And that, my friends , was my first battle with chicken shit.  We threw it at each other furiously, screaming at the top of our lungs, until it was in our hair, on our faces, and all over the clothes we had worn to church.
It was not to be my last encounter with chickenshit.
My first corporate job was editor of the company magazine for a frozen dinner producer.  In that capacity, I slung written public relations chickenshit on glossy paper, and trudged through acres of real chickenshit with plastic disposable  booties on my feet.
 Now, in 2017, I am ready to wage a chickenshit fight unlike anything I have ever known,
With the biggest bunch of political chickenshits this country has ever known,
Headed by a big orange-faced King of all chickenshits.
I may be old, but I know my chickenshit.
And I know how to use it.



I was here yesterday.

For the first time since 1990. I was here for a memorial service. But, as it turned out, I was not only remembering a friend who died.  I was remembering a part of myself who died here, so many years ago.  I remembered singing here in a choir.  I remembered speaking here from the pulpit.  I remembered candlelight and community.  I remembered faces and sermons I loved.  I remembered the first time I came here and felt I was home. I remembered the last time I was here, sitting in the back pew because I felt shamed by what my then-husband had done.

Now I have an incredible husband, who sat beside me in not-the-last pew, as I shed tears and remembered.

It might still be my sanctuary, in every way possible.