I think the last time my parents were by me for a Jewish holiday, it was for Shavuot. Shavuot is the holiday when we eat a lot of dairy food because we have not yet received the Torah that came with a free, autographed copy of a Susie Fishbein cookbook, which taught us how to make kosher meat dishes. Wow, those kosher cookbooks have really stood the test of time.
Anyway, I am pretty sure that the last Shavuot they were here, it was also a three day holiday and we had a bar mitzvah. I remember pushing my dad down the hill and praying that we could make it to the bottom without him flipping out of the chair like in one of those movies. Funny in a movie, not so funny in real life. And then there was the walk back. Pushing my adorable father back up the hill was going to be a challenge.
Fortunately, we ran into a young man, fresh off the boat from his spiritually enlightening year in Israel, all ready to do some mitzvahs — and mitzvahs he did! He pushed my dad all the way up the hill with nary a complaint. God bless him. I might still be pushing him up that hill if that fine young man hadn’t been walking next to us.
This Shavuot was a little strange for me. I got up from shiva on Tuesday and immediately delved into the shopping-cooking-cleaning process involved in preparing for the marathon holiday. Add to the mix my mom, Appiah-the-Saint aide, Son #1 who doesn’t eat dairy, Dil #1 and my little yummy Strudel, who is, of course, a cholov yisroel strudel.
As for my grief, as I have said to many people during shiva, I find it easier to talk to my dad now. Now, when I go on and on, I believe that he can hear me and I know what he is responding. Before, when I could look into his eyes and hold his hand, I never knew if he could hear me, and if he did, if he could understand what I was saying or if what I was saying was frustrating him because he couldn’t answer. Now I like to picture him talking to Duke Snyder from the Brooklyn Dodgers, telling him about how we all went to Cooperstown, to the Duke’s induction ceremony into the baseball hall of fame, and stayed at the owner of Marcal paper towels’ country house. Whose son, fun fact, was allergic to eggs, so my brother and I had to eat tuna fish made with lemon juice. Not yummy, I tell you. Not yummy at all.
But in my scenario, Duke Snyder is patting my dad on the back saying, “Thanks for coming, Rich, and because you were there, come play some ball with me and the guys.” Doesn’t that sound nice? Of course, my dad was a much better spectator than player, but I am sure things are different up there. Or I hope they are.
It’s funny what you start believing is real after you lose someone who you loved so much that even though you realize it is so for the best, it still feels really, really bad.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s get back to the holiday that just ended.
Can we discuss how hard it is to cook for this holiday? One person likes quiche. One person likes ziti. One person likes salad. Three people only eat cholov yisroel. One person doesn’t/can’t eat dairy. One person doesn’t like dairy. One person wants meat for every meal. One person needs an omelette at every meal. And because I am such a kind, wonderful, and compassionate person, I try to make everyone happy. My dad liked everything I made for him. I can’t remember him every complaining about what I made and what I served. But since he was not here this year, I knew I was not going to receive any full-hearted appreciation. So when I kept looking up at him saying, “Dad, how’s it going up there?” I know that he is saying, “Banj, you are doing great. Just keep being nice to your mother and tell Husband #1 that I say he should be a little more helpful.” Yup, that was my dad, always looking out for me.
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is changing her name to Naomi and Dil #1’s name to Ruth…let’s see how that goes….