With make-up and hair in place I dressed for a blessed day for Liam’s right of passage. With a lingering picture of the first glimpse of him 13 years ago I entered the shul carrying that memory in the forefront of my mind. This beautiful baby boy was about to ritualistically come of age. Yes indeed I was kvelling. With luck and determination I’ve come to know this young man in an intimate and charming way. I just love him.
A perfect moment in time stands still for nobody. With the iPhone producing photos with clarity in instant Polaroid fashion, we click on camera, shoot and go to photos. We experience the moment nanoseconds after we lived it. As we sigh a relief that the shot came through after we edited it, enhancing the color and eliminating a couple of years and a few lbs. even better than what we saw when we put our makeup on that morning. As we .com our way in mega- bytes, gif’s, compressed discs, http://www.dropbox, instagrams, monograms and sonograms we use the pause button and catch our breath. We’ve become electronically dependent systemically. When we forget our phone and ask the Uber driver to wait while we run back up, we know we are hooked. Those times that we try to chill without typing a message, posting a picture or playing words with friends (never seeing their reaction to using all 7 letters) are metrically minimal. So often I want to go back to black and white t.v.’s with rabbit ears, get up to change the station and eliminate the panic when I can’t find the remote. Peripatetically we marathon our way through the day. Our slow down, quiet time is listening to an hour of horrific news before we dress for dinner and begin again. We just celebrated a second grandsons Bar-Mitzvah within a month of time. We flew to Israel, recalibrated our daily ways and paused our marathon life. In a very deliberate way we left our phones in the room, counted blessings and realized the view from the inside out. We felt our way through a week of honoring Jack Gomberg. We fine tuned and edited our lives, if even for just one hour, just one day (at a time). This beautifully spirited young boy that we greeted 13 years ago when Sophia reached over and handed us her first born child has now davened his way to manhood. The entire congregation of family and dear friends prayed with one heart. I made a side deal with Hashem. I told him he should take a piece of good from my very full plate of good fortune and give it to Jack. Not to borrow-to keep. We have had front row seats in Jack’s life. Whether watching his expressions when he saw the seals at the zoo surface while being fed, listening to his screams of delight as he requested we give him another push higher on the swing, delighting in his pleasure as he yummed his way through chicken nuggets, pasta and apple juice, marveling at the creativity of his magna tile Gomberg compound, or walking into the room he created in our apt. that became his private movie theater and he asked us politely to shhhh- and please close the door- we have been by his side. And I quote from his Bar Mitzvah speech “Grandpa Ira and Judy I know you would both do anything for me. I feel your love whenever I’m with you.” Back to Jack’s week of Glory. Sophia and David you’ve out done yourselves and then some. The detailed planning and impeccable scheduling clearly a labor of love. No need to hold on to your hats the ride is going to be anything but bumpy. Oh, Sophia you created a happening we will never forget. It all began when the doorman rang up to say we had something that was just delivered.. We opened the package of goodies. Dad received a beautiful back pack. I got a monogrammed, perfect size carry bag to bring on the trip. I saw it as a cool satchel to collect and carry my memories back home. The package included a creatively designed folder with the insignia designed by and about Jack. The syllabus detailed.Jack Gomberg’s Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem, Israel. We both got very cool hoodies that we wore throughout the trip. How extraordinary and fitting that we would be spending a week of exploration and wonder in the area of the world in between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, “The Holy Land.” With every detail in place, bravo Sophia, we boarded the private bus each day and followed our hearts. All the while listening to the cacophony of sounds of children talking and laughing. The welcome dinner began at a restaurant called Kaffit. As we ate and drank we became familiar with the other guests who led with love and came to celebrate Jack Gomberg. We shared the next week from the views and ancient history of Masada and The Dead Sea, to being entertained by a fire eater, who we’ve come to learn has to remember two things. One, that fire and hot air move upward. The second, not to inhale while performing. We toured a 3,500 year old biblical area which is in an Israeli settlement in Shilo in the Northern West Bank. We learned about the history through a movie shown in a spectacular theater of ten giant screens offering a panoramic view of the entire area. We drove ATV’s in roller coaster fashion, through dirt roads filled with olive branches. So exciting, so fun. This was the only bumpy ride all week. We had an evening of karaoke and a montage slide show that Sophia and David put together ahead of time. We were all asked to describe Jack from our point of view. When we woke up on Thursday morning we dressed stylishly, put on the most comfortable, great looking flat shoes, generously given as a gift from Sophia. Another detail to help make our walk easier through the Kotel to the room in the tunnel to listen as Jack became a man. I kvelled and cried as I watched Ira open the Arc and hand his grandson the Sifrei Torah. Jack’s performance was nothing less than spectacular. His speech, for those in the know, so very Jack. As his heritage combines both Sephardic and Ashkenaz, on Saturday morning he paid homage to both sects through prayer. I was in awe of the festive Sephardim part of the service as it was nothing I’ve heard before. With the week coming to a close our young man who came to Israel a boy is now a Bar Mitzvah. Oh Sophia and David you sprinkled seeds, watched them grow over night to sunflowers and now your first born son has grown his first branch. We leave the land of our people, with honor, our love of G-d and the memories you planted in all our names to honor Jack. Baruch HaShem!
Buy the ticket- take the ride! From March, 2017
-As my daily “habits” began I read The Skimm early this morning. There was a follow up to a New York Times article I read a few weeks back in the Sunday Style section another “habit” -It was written by a young woman named Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She was terminally ill and wrote her modern love story “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” She extolled his virtues and told about their love together. She wrote it as an obit to herself. It read like an ad for a singles website that would be flooded with followers. An abbreviated life, albeit lucky in love.
There are so many cliches galore about hanging with people who value you and bring you joy-and in turn staying away from people who set fires and have mastered the art of playing the burn victim. Make a “habit”of choosing the people who cover your back as you traverse through curves in your terrain. Stay very close to “side of the road people,” you know the ones who pull over to text you and let you know that they put an extra leaf in the table, called for rental chairs and are including the people with no where to go for Passover. You never know when you will fall upon your greatest lessons- perhaps from a stranger- RIP- Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
A -my name is Alice and my husband’s name is Al, we come from Alabama and we sell Apples. As I open the cupboard on memories, bouncing a Spaulding as we sang the A my name is Alice rhyme, lifting our leg over the ball with each bounce, was an all time great walk around the corner and under a tree. A veritable, primordial work out and creative singing lesson all in one. My sister Bettie Ann and I grew up together and hung with the girls on the block. We stopped playing and walked home for our tuna sandwich or the treat of salami on rye, only made better with the delicious taste of mustard. After lunch we would stroll around the corner to the all purpose grocery store. I can vividly see the barrel of pickles prominently sitting next to the left of the front door. We would use part of our allowance to buy candy. Our first go to was a striped pixy stick, a straw filled with lik-m-aid. For those in the know it’s a tasty sugary retrospective in time. The original version of Fun Dip. We would then mosey over to the red licorice and marshmallow peeps. At Halloween the chicks turned into orange faced pumpkins. Fast forward 56 years. It’s 6:00 A.M. time to put up the coffee, my turn to “make the donuts.” I woke up salivating for a piece of my past, inside that grocery store. My sister Bettie Ann and I would bring our bag of goodies up to the counter. The man would take the pencil he harbored behind his ear and tally up our treats.
With our visual bounty in hand we would skip our way home and unveil the contents, perhaps trade a piece or two.
Our afternoons were often consumed through adventures with Dick and Jane, The Bobbsey Twins or figuring out if Nancy Drew was ever going to hook up with one of the Hardy Boys. As we felt the heat of the oven cooking sweet potatoes we knew they would soon be sitting next to the very well done lamb chops and canned peas Sophie was making for dinner. A welcomed pre- dinner activity was watching Patty Duke and her identical cousin navigate their way through high school. We often tried to distinguish between the subtleties in their looks. Hmmm! I long for those days of innocence when the doctor appointments took place as we sat upon the kitchen table. The local store that sold glass bottles of milk and farmer cheese made no room on the shelf for ammunition. Dwight D. Eisenhower was President.
Everybody in Grovers Corners looked into the grocery store and the drugstore once a day in Our Town by Thornton Wilder. It is with older eyes and wiser hearts that we live our lives. So, for today reach for the red licorice after a very sour pickle and make it a good Day!
And I quote -I heard the news today oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade.- 2019 Woodstock 50th Reunion planned. So vividly remembering drudging thru the mud to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and swooning to “Teach Your Children Well.” 50 years ago -the number is unimaginable. I’m loving the role as the Northeast distributor of nostalgia. Love my old pictures and debriefing the past when “ the fish were jumpin’ and the cotton was high.” My old friend’s are old/new friends, a different twist, same flare. Tonight I am sharing an evening with my Jill. We walked to school together everyday starting in Junior High. We will have a Vodka Grande and talk about how blessed we are that we’ve stayed so good, for so long. Our shared times, albeit infrequent, offer the run up and hug kind of times that I would run to save in case of fire. Our husbands will chat away, and after a quick catch up we will spend the rest of our time basking in the knowing of how special “WE” are.
Next month I am having a very frequent get together with The Julia’s-the acronym I penned for “just us ladies into aging.” A group of women whose only requirement for entry is feeling the love from yes, Grade School thru the Woodstock years.
I followed the lead of a group of men I knew about who are called the Romeo’s- (retired older men eating out). We love the tradition and respond to the frequent reminders with a resounding “yes, I’m in for sure.” Another item I’m running for in case of…
Last evening we went to a performance at the most charming of theater’s in Boca Raton called The Wick. It’s a throwback to the days of cabaret and houses memorabilia of days gone by, when song was song. Lady Gaga I love you, but when you’re crooning with Tony I Love you more. We saw a performance of the show “Curtains.” Two of my favorites, Kander and Ebb wrote the tunes. My take away song “I Miss the Music, I miss my friend.”
We were bred with an affinity for music. My parents played their 78’s of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and the resplendence of the scores to My Fair Lady and Westside Story. I had a small record player cased in red and white leather. My collection of 45 R.P.M. yellow adaptors converted my 78’s of Johnny Mathis into my 45’s of Blue Moon, My Boyfriend’s Back, Soldier Boy, He’s so Fine, and yes Lesley Gore, it was my own personal After Party and I’ll cry if I want to. I would close my light, get tucked into my single bed and fall asleep imagining how my days of glory would play out. When would the man I love come along? The sound that would startle me back to being “15” was the needle hitting the record as the music ended. When we returned from the show last eve we caught up on the debate a.k.a.cat fight. Unheard of rhetoric in a debate when The Grateful Dead were Grateful, when we loved seeing what Jackie Kennedy was wearing on the cover of Look Magazine and when counting Al Hirschfeld’s Nina’s on the front page of The Sunday New York Times Magazine Section with my sister Bettie Ann was a thrilling go to we fondly shared.
In the mornings I would clasp my school books together with a thick red, rubber band as Sophie screamed up to me “hurry up Jill is here to gather you to walk to Junior High.” Woodstock May be cancelled, but we’ll never forget the way we wore our hats and danced till 3:00.
So the year is 1967 (we just got our driver’s license) we head out in our white Volkswagen Beetle-roof top opened wide. The radio is set to wabc am 770 and we sang out (very) loud “we took a ride on a shoot the chute, when we fell in love down at Palisades Park.” Oh Cousin Brucie how’d you know us so well? You really got us. We packed our nap sack with a striped towel, our baby oil and iodine mix and prominently carried our new sun reflector under our arm. We stopped on Main Avenue and one of us ran out to the drugstore to buy a pack of Newport Menthols and Wrigleys spearmint gum. We took a pack of matches from home. Bradley Beach look out Passaic Girls sighting on the Garden State heading South. We all wore cut off “dungarees,” a washed out short sleeve madras blouse and underneath our version of an “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini.” We’re having a Heat Wave only at that point in time nothing to do with a hot flash, which segues me beautifully into yesterday’s ride to the Jersey Shore. The Julia’s acronym (Just us ladies into aging) met at the Tic Tock at 10:00. We got into Susan’s new bells and whistles car (great car Sue). We magically fell into our 1960’s time machine. Although it’s 50 plus years later and we’ve carried our age with us, our voices sound the same and our imaginations run wilder than we could have ever imagined. In surround sound style memories quickly rolled by in the very well air conditioned car (I wore a sweater.) Although nothing was yellow nor polka dot, two obvious differences were we buckled “seat belts” and didn’t stop for cigarettes. Gail offered us gum, I declined as I just had a new crown put in and not on my head. Crowns are the new fillings. I think the dentists read that AARP pamphlet too closely. Ok, so we were heading to Debbie Lark’s in Monmouth Beach for a day of old times, forgiving smiles and delicious homemade blueberry pound cake. Another Sara Lee memory moment, only this time baked by Debbie and so yummy. I kept hoping somewhere sequestered in her beautiful home would be a couple of Bass weejuns, with shiny pennies dated 1968. She would give us a pair as a glorious reminder of how great our feet felt sans high heels. We had lunch with a beach breeze and dessert on the terrace as we caught up on children, grandchildren, thyroid meds and the latest keto diet. All the while we had a song in our hearts as we quietly rubbed the rabbits foot we kept in our pockets. Lucky and then some, poo poo. Oh and by the way Sue nothing about yesterday was a “Fugazy.”