Things my grandmother said & believed
My grandmother was/still is my favorite person in the world - which didn't make her easy or less complicated. At the core of her, there was a fiercely loving, generous, unfailingly welcoming force of nature - undiminished by events that could have crushed her best qualities. My admiration and appreciation of her grows as I get older.
- •You should always have 2 boyfriends at once, that way you can play one against the other.This advice offered to me when I was 15, seemed bizarre, as finding 1 boyfriend struck me as a significant project, let alone puppeteering 2. Turns out, she had that talent and put it in motion, confirmed by lifelong friends.
- •The reason she agreed to marry my grandfather, Yossef: 'Everything in his closet was stacked like soldiers'The photo, their wedding portrait, marks the beginning of a 50 year marriage. She never said he was her great love (it was rumored that a previous boyfriend who was killed in a car accident was the favored suitor). She was pragmatic- Yossef was tidy and self sufficient not bad qualities to require in a spouse.
- •The secret to a happy marriage: upon hearing Yossef's key in the door when he returned from work, she would pour his beer into a glass. He would wash up, change out of his work clothes, sit down in his chair, open the newspaper finding the beer at his right hand foam free, ready to drink.She was asked for this advice by a classmate of my mother, who was about to marry when she graduated from school. No further guidance was offered.
- •He is not my owner; he is my man.In Hebrew, a language* that they both had to study and master as part of the immigrating to Israel in the 30's, the word for husband can also mean 'owner' or 'the person responsible for' as in landlord or manager. She would have no part of it, instead introducing him as her 'man' a phrase that holds the sexual connotation of 'lover' a habit that mortified my mother as a kid. * Yiddish was the language they shared in common, and both spoke fluently, used for secrets and absolute certainty.
- •I'm divorcing Yossef (over Henry Kissinger)This declaration made to my American grandmother upon arriving for a visit circa 1973-4. Asked to the cause of her impending and shocking divorce, she reported that one of them believed that Kissinger was good for the Jews and by extension Israel - the other did not. It's unclear if she was actually kidding.
- •If they would give me a gun.... she would undertake the responsibility of assassinating the villain of the moment.Said by a woman whose knee cartilage was eroding away to nothing, in an era where the surgery to repair/replace knees was in its infancy. She was just about bone to bone at that stage in her life, and walked very slowly, probably in a lot of pain (she never complained). She was no Jason Bourne. But was passionate in her opinions, her politics, and commitment to preserving her country.
- •'I'd rather laugh than cry. Laughing feels better.' When she laughed it was joyous- infectious, an act expressed with her whole body. A sound that was always a pleasure to hear.This statement becomes more astonishing when considering her life. She was the most loving person I've ever known- reread that a while. She and her 4 siblings were orphaned by the time she was 16, so they raised each other. She came to 'Palestine' in the 30's, two of her brothers married and had children-all of them perished in the war. She raised her family, lost her adored son in a freak car accident, months prior to my birth. She continued to be capable of laughter - I can't imagine how.