Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shana Tova -- Happy New Year

I lost my tickets.

Every year our high holy day tickets arrive a month or so in advance of the holiday. I am always very careful to put them somewhere safe.

Well, not always. At least not this year.

Long story short -- I sent an email to the appropriate person and there will be replacements waiting at the door tomorrow night.


Now for the long story that is going through my head and keeping me awake. Let's call it ...

Remembrances of High Holy Days before and after ... or ... Missing Mom

Mom (my mother-in-law in this story) has been gone for four full years now. This will be the fifth set of High Holy days since her demise.

I still miss her.

When Mike and I started living together, we also started worshiping together. (Or at least going to services together.)

While I was not a member of our synagogue until after our marriage, I always managed to get in to High Holy day services with Mike and Mom on their extra tickets. Since my brother-in-law was still in school and Mike was in graduate school, Mom qualified for "student" tickets for them. I went on my brother-in-law's ticket. (They don't check names and he was out of town.)

We'd always get there early because Mom liked to be able to "see." She had to be able to view the action on the bemah to be happy. We'd joke about it and tease her about having to stand on line for 45 minutes in order to get the good seats in the sanctuary. After a period of years, we wore her down and convinced her that the balcony was just fine and, that if she got an aisle seat, she could see just fine.

It was a compromise that worked well for several years -- except for the year that we discovered the second row of the balcony. This row, for some strange reason, has at least 2 inches less leg room then the other rows. I have long legs. Very long legs. In the other aisles my knees rubbed up against the back of the seats in front of me. In the second aisle ... let's just say that I made Mom switch seats with me during one of the standing bits so that I could put my feet into the aisle. I had bruises on my knees for a few days after.


Once the kids were born, Mike and I worshiped in shifts. He'd go with Mom on Rosh Hashanah evening and I'd go in the morning. The other person stayed at Mom's apartment with the kid(s). For Yom Kippor, we reversed it because he "should say Yiskor* for his father." (In quotes because that was how Mom felt and not what Mike felt.)

Then the kids got older and could come with us and go to the children's programs that ran in the classrooms upstairs in the synagogue.

That's when Mike stopped going to High Holy day services. He's an adult and can make up his own mind. He'd kept going for all of those years to keep his Mom company. Now that the child care issues were over, he allowed me to take that role. Since I wanted to go anyway, it worked. By then, Mom had mostly come to terms with Mike's feelinga about the whole organized religion thing and. as long as she had me, she was essentially o.k. with it.


So Mom and I went and after one or two times together, we discovered that if we arrived just as the line was letting into the synagogue, then we could usually find seats in one of the tiny pews at the back of the sanctuary -- the two seaters.

And we were happy.

We'll forget the year that I bit off the head of the temple administrator after I could not find the kids in the rooms that I left them in ...

Then Mom left us.

My vague recollections of that first set of holidays, coming after a summer of packing up her apartment, include Mike joining me, at least for Yom Kippor morning. Because he should say Yiskor for his mother.

That was the only year I asked him to join me though he still asks, every year, if I want him to go wth me.

The next year, I went, essentially, alone. The kids were in their parallel program having a good time. And I had no one to shmooze with before services or to nod with in agreement (or disagreement) during the sermon. Or to compare notes with afterwards.

I joined friends in the auditorium that year for Yom Kippor and discovered great sightlines. When I wondered to Mike, why Mom had never tried it, he said that she hated the chatty atmosphere that went with those wonderful sightlines.

After another set of services there, I understood why. It didn't help that my friends are of the late arriving sort, so I still had no one to shmooze with before services began.

Then, two years ago I was invited to usher ... and the rest is history. I LOVE ushering. The hustle and bustle and movement. While I do not get the quiet, contemplative time that I associate with worship -- hey, I wasn't really getting it anyway. And that's what late nights are for -- like tonight when everyone is asleep and I can think deep thoughts. And share them with you.


I had no intentions of going to evening services tomorrow. I figured we'd have a nice family dinner together and the kids and I would go in the morning -- we are ushering. But then I lost the tickets and now I feel that I have to go, just to justify the late email asking for help (I probably could have talked my way in on Saturday since we are on the ushering list).

In a strange way I am glad my hand was forced. I'm kind of looking forward to this now ... Squidette may or may not join me. Little Squid is taking a pass. I'm going to volunteer my services as an expert usher (they thought about upgrading my carnation color last year!) but, if I am not needed, I will ...

Shmooze before the services with my daughter.

Nod sagely with her during the sermon (or laugh discretely).

And truly understand why Mom wanted someone with her. And why Mike went for all those years -- and then always offered to go with me afterwards.

It's about more than the religion. It's about a shared experience and being with those you love during something that is important to you.


Shana Tova -- May this year be a good and sweet one and may you be inscribed in the book of life for another year.

*Yiskor: memorial service for the departed


Cookie said...

Happy New Year!

Mike was so wonderful to go with his mother all those years, and I'm so glad that you were able to go with her and share those times with her before she passed away. Now the circle of life continues with your babies growing up and helping out. Or taking a pass, which I totally respect and understand. We all must follow our hearts and do what is best for us.

Oh, and the fridge is a great place to keep tickets. ;^)


Penny said...

l'shanah tovah !

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!