She’s been part of my life since I was a young adult. She is my dear mother-in-law but dislikes being introduced as such because of the famous comedian Henny Youngman’s joke: “Take my mother-in-law… please!”
We come from two disparate worlds: “Mommy” (as I refer to her) is a Holocaust survivor and I am a second-generation American. Yet our mutual love for her son and my devotion to forming a close family unit have indeed been the cement that has formed a wonderful relationship.
Never having known my own grandparents, Mommy, a young almanah at the time, was blessed to have her parents, Bubba Dina and Zaidy Majer, for many, many years. So I enjoyed the novelty of being their youngest “grandchild!”
In addition, my dear parents, ob”m, formed a close relationship with their machatunim. Together, three generations, thank Hashem, shared the miracle of the birth of my children, bar and bat mitzvahs and the like.
I was therefore secure in the knowledge that I would raise my family within the bosom of our close extended family unit with the assumption that they, in turn, would follow the same pattern.
“Man plans and Hashem laughs,” as the saying goes. I never expected that many, if not most, of my children’s job opportunities would take them far afield from dear ole’ Mum. And so, I was forced to work assiduously on my separation anxiety while simultaneously forging a close connection with my children and grandchildren from afar, before cell phones, texting and face-time became de rigeur.
My family always found an open and warm welcome when they flew in for a family simcha, but now due to Hashem’s goodness and kindness I am now living in close proximity to several of my children.
While they are accustomed to living in the suburbs, I am a city girl born and bred. In fact, I didn’t realize until I moved near my children how much I am accustomed to city noises, such as neighbors coming and going in the building where I formerly lived, the availability of buses and subways and sidewalks. I am a walker and sidewalks are few and far between. And the quiet! Oh my gosh! Thank Hashem we have a fish pond directly facing my front door. The flowing water pierces the early morning quiet greeting me upon wakening each day. Tiny footprints are proof that a family of deer have come to greet me as well, but I missed them.
Wait! What’s that? It’s mid-week but the siren sounds akin to the erev Shabbos alarm that I was accustomed to hearing each Friday. Aha! It is the local volunteer fire brigade calling out firemen for duty.
When erev Shabbos comes, however, I have a special privilege. My daughter and some of her kinderlach have come to wish me a good erev Shabbos. Having recently relocated with her husband and family from the U.K. after several years, I still can’t quite believe that our meetings are not short visits.
While change can be challenging, I thank Hashem for the blessings that He has showered upon me and my family.
Hodu Lashem ki tove, ki l’olam chasdo!
The cycle of life continues with my very happy heart singing Hashem’s praises.