Monday, November 8, 2010

Yo, Dot!

I've become more involved with my new synagogue.  I'm there twice a week to drop the Tiny Titan off for Hebrew School, and I've signed up for two Adult Ed classes that run at or about the same time he is there, so it's convenient for me.  I've rebooted my long dormant "server" and am reading Hebrew with halting accuracy as well as learning old prayers with new melodies and new prayers with old melodies.  We have attended several services since the High Holy Days (both Friday night and Saturday morning), I've participated in a few Sisterhood events (gack!!) and I'm running into a lot of the same people....people who, though they may not know me by name, know me enough by sight to ask about how I'm enjoying my "life as a brunette" experiment.

Side note - It's ok.  But it's not me.  Come spring, I'm going to go back to being a blonde.

Our synagogue has a Welcome Booklet that sits in the book slot on the back of the pews, and it's written very appealingly, for the Jew and non-Jew alike.  One of the memorable passages describes prayer akin to deep meditation, and to approach prayers as opening yourself up to a trancelike state so as to commune better with G-d.

The old me would have laughed and asked when we were going to pass the bong around.

Except, now, I have twice found myself moved to tears during services.  Both times were random (at least to me) and both times I felt like it was Grandmom who was with me.

I have no living grandparents.  My maternal grandfather died before I was born, and I'm named after him.  My maternal grandmother, Nana, died when I was back living with my parents before I moved in with my fiance (now husband).  I was there the night she died - I had to drive my mom to my uncle's house where she died - and I can still recall how she looked laying in the bed...mouth slightly open and eyes closed, like she was sleeping, but still trying to breathe.  Her death was not unexpected, but one we all hoped would occur, if only to end an existence that we knew she would have despised.

When my paternal Grandmom died, I was there with her in Florida.  Just thinking about it and I am crying.  It was horrible, though she died peacefully and on her own terms, and I've never gotten over it.  When Pop-Pop died earlier this year, I was sad, but he, too, was living a miserable existence.  My dad and aunt had moved him into an assisted living facility, but he used to tell Batman, "This isn't assisted living.  It's assisted dying."  Oy vey, Pop.  But he was right.

So when I find myself letting go in services, into a trancelike state while closing my eyes and listening to the melody of the prayer, the first person I find myself thinking of is Grandmom.  During the Yom Kippur Kol Nidre service, I read the words:

ברוך אתה ה׳...מחיה המתים
Barukh Ata Adonai, Mechayei ha-metim
"Praised are You, O Lord, who grants immortality to the departed"

and I felt like I was hit with a 2x4 across the chest and had the wind knocked out of me.

This past Saturday, it was the Rabbi discussing how so much of our religion is passed on via oral and practical tradition.  An elderly congregant was saying how sad she was to be getting old, and that the feel of the older traditions, and the way she was raised, was lost to the past, never to be recaptured.  And hearing her words, I felt Gram was sitting next to me, her hand clasped in mine.

I don't know if this is a newfound maturity, or clarity, or that I'm grasping for assistance and looking for guidance from any available outlet. Or - I'm still depressed about a few specific things and have not yet found a way to "get over" them. 

Regardless, even with the brunette hair that makes me look more like Gram in her younger years, I still miss her terribly.  And that. really. sucks.

1 comment:

TAH said...

Thank you for writing this.

When I was growing up my father would always tell me that his mother would always cry when she lit the Shabbat candles. I never really understood why until Grammy died, which was when I first started crying in synagogue. Now I cry in synagogue all the time -- it's like my place to be sad. I read Torah in late December -- actually, Tiny Titan's bday wkend -- it was the story about how Jacob died surrounded by family, and OMG, between all the flashbacks to Poppy's passing, it's a MIRACLE that I got through it.

I know how much Grammy really wanted us all to stay together after she was gone; she worried a lot that we wouldn't. I wish I could have told that between email, blogs, and Facebook (let alone proper face-to-face gatherings) we would be MUCH more in touch after she passed than before. I like to think that she somehow sees this from the hereafter and is consoled...