Monday, April 10, 2006
I REMEMBER MOMMA
The Momma d’Elisson, age 20.
Today is the 12th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, three days before the start of the Passover holiday.
It’s also eighteen years since I held my mother’s hand as she slipped off to explore the Undiscovered Country from which none of us ever return.
Following a tradition of long standing, I led services at this morning’s Minyan, after which it was my treat for a Fishy Breakfast at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium. It’s a way of thanking the people that show up, thus ensuring that there is a quorum of ten Jewish adults present and permitting me to fulfill my obligation to recite Kaddish.
That’s the religious aspect of Remembering Momma... but there are so many other ways.
Every time I take a golf club in hand, I remember my mother. She and Dad - Eli, his ownself - were regular golfers back in the day. Dad would play on the weekends; Mom reserved most of her Golfy Time for two or three days during the week. She could knock that ball around, all right. To this day, I wish I could play as well and as consistently as she did.
When I was young and still learning the game, I used to let my temper get the better of me... until Mom told me that she would no longer play with me until I got a grip on my emotions. It’s a lesson that has stuck to this very day. I may not be the best player, and I may still ionize the air with a judicious oath or two during a hotly contested round, but I do not whack my driver into the ground after a bad tee shot, nor do I throw my clubs. By treating golf as a game and not a Personal Deathmatch, I remember Momma.
Whenever I read a book, I remember Momma. She was a voracious reader from whom I acquired my love of science fiction. Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Stanislaw Lem, Harlan Ellison (that’s with two l’s and one s), and all the rest are names I learned at my mother’s knee. Even today, about 25% of my average Book-Pile consists of science fiction of some kind or another, and with every page, I remember Momma.
The memories are there, to be called up every time I pick up a tennis racquet or a bowling ball. Every time I order a perfect Rob Roy, straight up. Every time I watch something on public TV instead of the latest reality show tripe. And, for that matter, every time I tell a ribald joke. Momma sure did love a good, filthy joke.
I’m sorry she’s not around to see the beautiful and intelligent young women her granddaughters have become. I’m sorry she’s not around to pester me about my diet or the need to get more exercise (although Dad sees to that quite adequately, thankyouverymuch.) But, in a way, she’s always with me.
And before the sun goes down, I’ll drink a Rob Roy to her memory. Straight up, of course.
Update: My cousin Eli in Jerusalem points out that “Eighteen years is a long time. Chai which means life in Hebrew is 18 in gematria [numerology - E.]. It was also her name in Hebrew - Chaya Riva. A person’s Hebrew name has the deepest of meanings. With your wonderful mother there could have been no better name to describe her - always full of life and lots of love. We will always cherish her memory.”