I needed Zaidy’s scissors for another chore.
It’s a heavy, garment scissor that Zaidy Meir used when he worked as a shnaider (tailor) in the City. When he came to America with his family in 1951, he was able to get steady work although he did not speak English.
He came into my life when I was a teenager.
I never knew my own grandparents but when Zaidy and I locked eyes, it was love at first sight.
The year was 1967, a mere few weeks after the Six-Day-War. Zaidy was going to attend the first Israeli Day Parade with his two grandsons. As I was dating the older grandson (whom I would later marry), I made up to meet them in Central Park.
I was immediately taken with the care and respect with which the boys attended to their grandfather. He was stricken with arthritis and was hunched over and walked with difficulty. But his face was the face of an angel.
He had snow-white hair, bright blue eyes, a turned-up nose and a smile that could melt anyone’s cool reserve.
His grandson and I became engaged within the year of our initial meeting and subsequently spent a lot of time with Zaidy and his wife, Bubba Dina. Zaidy was always cracking jokes, which would dissolve his family into fits of laughter. The only problem was I didn’t speak Yiddish. I am American born, and while my parents spoke Yiddish, they used as a secret language between themselves, so I never learned the Mamma loshen.
The jokes got lost when they attempted to translate them for me, but I still warmed to the good vibes that Zaidy’s humor generated.
Bubba Dina was quite different in temperament to Zaidy. She was frail, yet possessed an indomitable spirit. She had lost two of her three children during the war years. Bubba never talked about them, but the hurt was evident in her brown eyes.
Her two grandsons became the focus of her life.
When her son-in-law passed away suddenly at the age of 35, Bubby and Zaidy represented some semblance of stability for the boys, while my future mother-in-law sought work in order to support her family.
My husband’s love of cooking stems from the happy times he spent in the kitchen with Bubby watching and assisting her whenever he could.
My parents doted on Bubby and Zaidy too and we spent many happy times together.
My husband and I waited for children for several years after our marriage. Shortly before my husband and I moved to England for his stint as an Air Force Chaplain, we took a Shabbos walk with Bubby and Zaidy. Bubby told me that she was going to give me silverware that she spirited out of Europe. It would be a service for three, the number 3 representing a segula that I would indeed have a child!
Within a year’s time I was indeed expecting my first “miracle” and Bubby called up and gave me the most wonderful bracha, which I have since passed on to my own children: “The baby should be geruten,” meaning that the ingredients should include everything perfect so that the baby is born completely healthy.
She was a woman of few words, but when she chose to speak, her words were pearls of wisdom.
She never felt any different towards the two young ladies who married her grandsons than she did towards her own grandchildren. Each young couple was one neshama she felt; intertwining her two fingers to demonstrate her belief.
She doted on her great-grandchildren, shtupping them with food as she most likely did her own children, and grandchildren, breathing in their innocent smells, while keeping her innermost thoughts to herself.