Sunday, June 21, 2015

Two Brides

You know that feeling you get when you are fairly certain you're on the cusp of something incredibly memorable?   

Saturday night in Cambridge, Massachusetts was one of those times.    

David and I sat outside at the Multicultural Arts Center to witness the marriage of his dear friend's daughter.  

The setting was beautiful:  lush greenery, a nice cool breeze, musicians playing in the background, everyone jockeying for the best seats in the house, and lots of very dressed up people smiling from ear-to-ear.

From the start, with over 150 guests milling around, I assumed it would play out like other weddings except there would be two women in the lead roles instead of a woman and a man.  It reminded me of my take on vegetarian chili the first time I made it, substituting a vegetable or two for the meat portion of the recipe and calling it a day.   

I began to see subtle variations from the "norm" as the ceremony began, with the absence of a trio of familiar customs:  a bridal party dressed in a theme color, bridesmaids walking down the aisle followed by "Here Comes the Bride," and ONE bride, in all her glory, making a grand entrance.

Instead, the two brides addressed their guests from the chuppah - the bridal canopy - and thanked us all for coming, introduced both officiants and explained the importance of the Jewish and Catholic wedding practices we'd see. This was followed by a reading of the proclamation that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

After blessings by a handful of their most special guests, these two young ladies exchanged their vows.  These promises started with stories that outlined similar values and beliefs, their love and respect for one another and the moment each knew she was in love.   

As I sat there overwhelmed with joy for them, in large part as a result of the thrill they shared in being able to wed, I found myself thinking that everyone - most of all same sex naysayers - should realize the power of connection and how much better the world could be if more people were able to find the peace that these two have in loving one another.  
When the celebration was over, I realized it played out very differently than I had expected.  I didn't see the traditional "show" with a substitution here and there.  I was instead privy to a uniquely powerful and enlightening glimpse of life and love for two people who in another time would've been gypped from the honor of formalizing the potentially lifelong bond of marriage.    

I am happy to say that I too share in the enormous appreciation for the jubilation and triumph of this new era, when lesbians and gays are finally free to marry, like everyone else.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Memories Live On

'Tis the season for some Mommy and Me quality time, even if she's not here to enjoy it.   

Two of my biggest worries when she passed were: 1 - being afraid I'd begin to forget all those times we spent together and 2- letting memories of her strong drive and grit begin to slip away.

I'm starting to believe these things will never happen, as everything's a trigger, in a good way.
Last night, I heard a woman talking about her 97 year-old mother.  "My mom lived to 97 too," I thought to myself. 

This morning, I made a fruit salad and what bowl did I reach for, in my Color Me Mine cabinet?  The triangular one that my mom made a few years ago, when we went for my birthday.

This afternoon, I went to see Pitch Perfect 2 with my girls and laughed thinking about that time my mom and I sat on the first row of the Esquire Movie theatre in our West Oak Lane neighborhood to catch The Boston Strangler. That's not a movie one should sit up close to see, but that's what happens when you come in 45 minutes late.  That's actually not a movie one should see, period.

The memories of Mom keep on coming. 

One of her biggest attributes that I think about often was the fact that she was always willing to invest in those she believed in.    

One such example is the commitment she made to an elementary school in the neighborhood where she and my dad raised their 4 kids and where she became a most dedicated community activist.

My mom was the co-founder and president of the Ogontz Area Neighbors Association and through this organization a core group of residents worked hard to make the neighborhood a better place. They accomplished this in many ways, but two notable achievements were the establishment of a family center and gym program at the Pennell Elementary School and also the creation of scholarships to local high school students entering Temple University.   

My mom was especially passionate about the Pennell School, so much so that a mural of my parents was painted there representing many decades of dedication.  
When she was about 90 years old - a few years after my dad passed - she decided she wanted to create a new ritual at Pennell which would both inspire and assist its elementary school graduates. 
Students were asked to write essays in response to the question, "What does Pennell mean to me?"
She (and her kids, including me) would then pick one male and one female to win a Councilman David and Florence Cohen Award for Academic Achievement and Good Citizenship.  The winners were asked to read their essays during the graduation ceremony, followed by the presentation of gifts (in recent years, Kindles). 

My siblings, our kids and I have appreciated these essays as they are a combination of entertaining, eye opening and rewarding.  It is a real privilege to have access to the inner thinking of such fine young men and women.   
This is the first year without Mom's input as to who the winner should be, but I know she had faith in us, as she reminded me before she passed that she hopes we continue the tradition long after she's gone.

Soon I'll be in Ocean City with my kids and I'm certain that one of them will ask the annual question, "Remember that time Bubbe played ball with us on the beach?"

She gave so many of us her very best.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Once and Always

A friend recently commented to me that a mother's work is never done. 

She said this in response to my telling her that I couldn't get together on June 4th, since I had planned to morph into my old familiar role of Nurse Judy.  

This was the date that my daughter, Amy, was scheduled to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. 

Amy is my youngest "child," set to graduate from college in December after student teaching, and excited about her potential plan to live with girlfriends once they're all employed. 

Twelve hours after surgery, I found myself hovering over her as I did 20 years before, trying to help guide the jello into her mouth so she could wash down all the medication necessary to withstand the recovery process.   

It didn't take me long to reprise the role of the much-needed caregiver, a.k.a. MOM, and I was very happy going back to it.  It always feels right.  Even at 3 a.m..  Even for a 22 year-old.

Times like these, when for whatever the reason our adult kids need their moms, may be few and far between, so I really savor them. 

However, with Amy's return to normal life slated to take a couple weeks or so, I'm going to get very comfortable being in the driver's seat for an extended period of time.

Even though it's by far the easiest place to be in - when the roles are clearly defined, we're all on the same page and I'm the boss - this change in routine sets into motion the emotional roller coaster we moms work so hard to neutralize. 

Sometimes we're needed, sometimes we're not. It's all very confusing. 

As for now, Amy seems pleased with my medication chart, my opinion on what foods she might be able to tolerate, my willingness to run out and get her juice as needed  and, most of all, our time together. 
I agree with my friend. 

A mother's work is never done.

Is there anything better?  I think not.