Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Friday, March 22, 2013

GOLF SEASON

Bernice 1943
The Momma d’Elisson of bless├Ęd memory, whose twenty-fifth Yahrzeit is observed at sundown today.

We Red Sea Pedestrians are a strange lot.

Birthdays don’t matter all that much to us.  Sure, we celebrate ’em... but that’s a secular activity that is driven mainly by our participation in the American popular culture.  There’s no religious observance that attaches to birthdays, save for the recognition of a child as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah at the age of thirteen (for boys, and as early as twelve for girls).

We pay more attention to the date on which a person moves on to Olam ha-Ba, the World to Come.

The anniversary of a person’s death - the Yahrzeit - is observed by the people who mourned that person in life, a permanent ritual of remembrance.  Traditionally, one lights a candle that burns for a full twenty-four hours, and one attends services so that one may, in the presence of the required quorum of ten worshipers, recite the Mourner’s Kaddish.

It was explained to me once that birthdays are less meaningful than Yahrzeits because a person is, at birth, a mass of unrealized potential.  Upon his or her passing, however, that person has (it is to be hoped) affected other lives and brought some measurable change to the world.  He or she is, at least to the extent possible, has become a sort of Known Quantity.  You can take that explanation or leave it, but it does - at least, to me - make some sense.

If you translated Yahrzeit literally, you’d get “year-time” - anniversary.  But the term has a further implication, that of “season,” rendered Jahreszeit in German.  It’s not just that a year has passed; it’s that a particular time of year connects us to our long-gone loved ones in a unique, powerful way.

With my mother, that season is the springtime, the days leading up to the Passover holiday.  It’s a time when the days get longer and warmer, when trees are in bloom, when the yellow blossoms of forsythia (one of her favorites) paint the neighborhood.  (Yes, I know we throw a memorial dinner for her every year on the first night of Chanukah, but there’s another story behind that peculiar observance.)

I suspect that this time of year, she would have mostly been thinking, “Golf Season is here!”  She was, after all, an inveterate golfer, playing two or more times a week at a time when most of the neighborhood’s housewives were deciding whether to fix a meatloaf or hot dogs for the family supper, or what kind of pie to bring to the school’s bake sale. Always athletic, she also played tennis and bowled, covering both the white-collar and blue-collar sides of the sports spectrum.

We can only speculate upon what she would have been like in her Golden Years, had she lived to enjoy them.  Would she have slowly grown cranky and obstreperous like her own mother had done, or would she have continued to be the fun-loving Doting Grandma to her beloved granddaughters?  We can only wonder... but I like to think that she would have avoided the trap of Excessive Cantakerousness.

Tomorrow is Mom’s twenty-fifth Yahrzeit.  For a quarter-century now, she has been playing her heavenly Golf Game from the side of the fairway where the pointy part of the tee goes, and we who have been left behind to mourn her have had to do without her warmth, humor, and common sense.

This evening I’ll light that candle, and I’ll be at shul tomorrow to say Kaddish.  Perhaps I will toast her memory with a perfect Rob Roy - her favorite cocktail - and ponder the bittersweet realization that I have even now walked the Earth longer than she had the opportunity to do.  Alas.

7 comments:

Kevin Kim said...

Here's to your mom, Steve. Hugs, good memories, peace, and blessings. You're a fine and worthy son.

Jocelyn Krodman said...

Beautiful post, Dad.

Richmond said...

Beautiful.

Avrumel said...

May her neshama have an aliya to an even higher level b'olam habah.

The Other Elisson said...

Mom enjoyed life, and everyone enjoyed being with her because she was caring, upbeat and just plain fun to be with. I know that's how she's remembered by all who knew her.

Rahel Jaskow said...

A lovely tribute, Steve.

Mubashir Zaidi said...

Dear Mr Steve Krodman!
Hi.
My name is Mubashir Zaidi and I am a Pakistani writer and journalist.
I am a lover of short short fiction and bought your book from Amazon. I am planning to publish a book of translated short stories. I have selected one hundred short short stories from different sources and books and converting them into Urdu. I have selected some of your stories and actually writing you to get your permission.
Would you please allow me? I would acknowledge you in my book and promise to send you its copies as soon as it published. I would wait for your reply impatiently.