I’ve been a bit busier over the past few months and haven’t had a chance to sit, process, and write for a while until this inspiration came to me. You would have celebrated you 102nd birthday today, seriously momentous occasion! Both our birthdays are in June- proud Geminis.
I realize I only knew you for a brief part of your life, and missed out on many of your adult milestones as you were well into retirement when I was growing up. I’ve never seen your work schedule, your weeknight dinners, your full strength, but I’ve learned a lot from the time I spent with you.
My love for pajamas, even those super dorky footsie ones (which you bought for me until my pre-teen years!) comes from you. You taught me about matching my clothes, and studied me each time I walked into your home to make sure I looked right. I remember seeing you in heels, finding your espadrilles in your closest, and feeling at home. I remember how you talked on the phone to your best friend (who was also your sister-in-law) every night for 1-2 hours. I related so closely to that during my teen years. I remember you reading your Danielle Steel books (in Hungarian), while I watched and rewatched romantic weddings and shows, believing in dreams, love, and happily ever after.
After Grandpa died, I spent many, many Shabbatot in your home and we got really close. Each week, when you made Kiddush, you choked on the words “Ki Banu Bacharta” because it was at that point where Grandpa’s voice came to you, and you couldn’t handle the emotion. That was love.
I remember spending Pesach with you, how you treated yourself to scrambled eggs (whites only of course, with your sensitive stomach) in the buffet line. I remember reading newspapers to you, explaining and paying your bills, and when you got older, forcing you to take walks. Thank you for teaching me some Hungarian….I can even read some words, see “csalad (family)” , and how to Daven in Shul.
You weren’t always easy to get along with—in fact, you were one tough cookie. The same stubborn, pain the behind I tend to be sometimes. I know you weren’t well enough to see me go to Israel, or attend my wedding, but you met my husband briefly, and for that, I am forever grateful to G-d. I know you’d be proud of who I am now. I’m not perfect, I’m not half the cook or cleaner that you were. But I know I was always deserving of your love. You thought I was smart and wonderful and that has gotten me through so much of life.
So like I said, Happy Birthday.