October is a tough month in our family history. For some unknown reason many of our family members have passed away- both unexpectedly and not so unexpectedly- within the month of October. My husband and I have done our best to re-claim the month by getting married near the end of October (three years ago now!) and, today, by arranging to have our baby blessing ceremony.
While planning it out I think I subconsciously realized the date but it wasn’t until about two weeks ago that I put it together. While October 9th is a great day here- sun is shining, leaves are turning, it’s neither too hot nor too cold– it’s a perfect New England fall day- it is also the day that my grandmother passed away, fourteen years ago. Since my daughter is named after my grandmother it kind of makes sense to have the blessing on the same day. Jewish tradition says that you don’t name your children after someone who’s still alive, lest the angel of death get confused and take Baby G. rather than Grandma G., but that you can (and should) name them after someone who’s died- thus, honoring the dead and passing on some of those characteristics to the new life.
Since this blog is based on my grandmother’s recipes and stories, it seems only fitting that today’s entry show you who she was. Here is the grandmother I didn’t know, since this was taken long before she became a grandmother:
Grandma was married to my grandfather for over 50 years. She died shortly before their 53rd anniversary, I think. They had three children and one “adopted” child (My uncle S. Don’t worry, I’ll tell that story here as well since it involves some really great Japanese food!). After the children were grown, my grandparents traveled all over the world. Family was extremely important to them and over the years Grandma and Grandpa took in various people to stay in their home. Each person that stayed was welcome as long as she/he needed and eventually became part of our family. My grandparents’ home was open to all regardless of color, religion, culture, food preferences or languages spoken. As a result, I was eight years old before I realized that not everyone had a Japanese Uncle, a Venezuelan Aunt and a cousin in Zambia. An interesting way to grow up, to be sure.
The grandmother I knew looked like this:
She was kind, caring, compassionate, funny, warm, patient, open, non-judgmental, generous, fiercely loving and smart. She always had time for me and when I was with her, I felt like I was the most important thing/person in the world. It is because of my grandmother that I can cook but it is also because of her that I know what it feels like to be loved unconditionally. She was the matriarch of our family and it was because of her that I have the stories to tell- she created a large extended family that continues to this day.
So no recipe today, just a bit about Grandma. She was my personal hero. I miss her every single day. I hope that I can raise my daughter to be something like her and that I can make my daughter feel from me what I felt from Grandma- fierce, unconditional love and a feeling of being the most important thing/person in the entire world.
If I can give my Baby G. half that feeling, I think I’ll be doing well.