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Good shabbos

Friday December 16

Today I told my mother. At first I thought I shouldn’t. I told all the nurses and her aids not to tell my mother that Marty had died. But he hadn’t been to see her since I first arrived here and perhaps even before that. He called Mom’s room phone the day after I got here – in the morning – to say he wasn’t feeling so well and wouldn’t be coming by. But he didn’t talk to my mom – I answered the phone for her. I gave her the message though she seemed barely aware enough to understand what I was saying. He called the next day also, in the afternoon, to tell us he was in the hospital. Two days after that, on Monday, he called again to say he was leaving the hospital and was going to be placed in Health Care, where my mom is. Monday evening, the nurse came over to let me know that Marty had arrived and settled in and I went over to see him and meet his daughter who, like me had gone to Pratt. The next day he was dead, gone, so shockingly quick.

Until the day he died, he called mother practically every day to let her know where he was and when he was coming over. A friend of my mom’s told me of the time my mom was down by the entrance to the dining room expecting to meet Marty there but he was late and my mom got very upset, not knowing where he was. But now he’s not calling or coming any more. And my mom is still here, lying in her bed asleep and waiting. So I told her. So she could stop waiting. So she would know that he hadn’t decided to abandon her.

The question everyone seems to ask me is “How did she take it? How did she respond? Do you think she understood you?” I have no answer for those questions. I’m not sure. I think she heard me. How much she took in, I don’t know.

On Friday afternoons at 4:15, some of the Jewish residents here gather to hold a Shabbat candle-lighting service. I attended one in August with my mother. It was a lovely service. I felt I needed to go again, tonight, to welcome the Sabbath, to say hello to God, just in case he’s listening. I entered quietly. I sat towards the back, off to the side, picked up the booklet they created and use and the service began. The two women in the front, the leaders, lit the candles, saying the blessing. Then they chose people from the audience to read passages from the booklet they use. “You there, Evelyn’s daughter, from Sweden, I don’t remember your name, can you read the next section?” I did and that felt good – to be included, nameless or not.

As the service was about to end, I saw from the first row a friend of my mom’s, who she used to play canasta with, motioning to me with hand gestures as though to say do you want to eat with us. I nodded my head and met them outside the auditorium. I had been adopted and was being asked to join them for dinner. At their table they had challah and a bottle of kosher Manicheivits Concord grape wine. One of the women at the table said the blessing over the wine and the challah and we continued to eat our Friday night shabbas dinner. It was a good way to start the weekend.


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2 Responses to “Good shabbos”

  • Nancy Henningsen Says:

    Lovely shabbos writing Hilarie. When I saw you had a new post, at first I expected u to be writing that your mom had died. Keep me posted and I’m glad u told her. Our NY wkend was lots of fun,kids swam a lot and raced their remote controlled cars. Adults talked and ate. Madeline is taking Hebrew and seems to like it. I’ll keep you and your mom in my thoughts as I meditate and send you both loving kindness thoughts.

  • Rose Says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with your Mom. Your writing is both heartfelt and wonderful. Wishing you peace Hilarie.

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