One of my boys, now a father, was reminiscing the other day about the ringing of the front doorbell signaling Grama’s arrival. A modern-day savta simcha (children’s book), she arrived schlepping her trusty large blue overnight bag containing all sorts of goodies, including ShopRite Orange Juice. You never saw kids so excited to see a container of juice.
If it was Chanukah, Mommy brought her dreidel cookies. If it was Purim, her hamantashen could not be beat. Later on she learned to make homemade chocolates in different holiday molds, which she added to her repertoire.
A birthday celebration was never complete without the birthday boy or girl receiving one of Mommy’s famous chocolate/marble cakes, iced and covered in multicolored sprinkles spelling out the recipient’s name. This treat was anticipated with much excitement, but once Mommy was weakened by chemo, I assumed that these cakes would be relegated to a memory box.
I should have known better.
When I arrived kind of misty-eyed to visit Mommy on my 50th birthday, I tried mightily to plaster a smile on my face. It wasn’t difficult. Mommy asked me to open the oven – and there was the last cake that Mommy would bake for me.
I was overcome with emotion and ran to call her oncologist to blurt over and over again: “My mother baked me a birthday cake!”
In later years arthritis made it difficult for Mommy to knit her lovely baby blankets and sweaters. So she switched to needlepoint, many of which depicted Jewish themes. Nearly every vinkel (corner) of my children’s homes showcases another “Grama Raizel Creation.”
Recently, my Avremel arranged for me to hear the naming of his little one in shul. When the name Roza Chaya was uttered, I cried. Roza lives on!
Little Roza carries not only the name of her dearly missed great-grandmother, but also the illustrious name of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s rebbetzin, Chaya Mushka, zy”a. This is because Roza was born on the yarhzeit of the Rebbe, zy”a (gimmel Tammuz).
The Rebbetzin was the dugmah chayah (living example) of kevudah bas melech penimah (the glory of the king’s daughter is within), for the Rebbetzin, the daughter and wife of Rebbes, carried herself with dignity and malchus by preferring to stay in the Rebbe’s court’s background. Likewise, my mother carried herself with dignity and with devotion to Hashem in the most eidel, refined manner possible.
Little Roza Chaya, as well as my Raizel Mirel and Shoshana Rosa, have a lot to live up to. But I have no doubt that, with Hashem’s help, what’s in their names will carry them in good stead in the years ahead.
L’iulei nishmat haImi morati, Raizel Mirel bas Elchanan Mordechai, a”h.
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