Wednesday, February 13, 2008
A Special One Day Trip Down South (West)
I just returned home at 2 AM Sunday night, along with my oldest daughter, from Corpus Christi, TX, where we spent about 3 and a half hours.
My last remaining grandparent is around 91 years old and has just joined an outpatient hospice program. Considering how things have been going recently, I felt that if I wanted to see her again, now is the time. So two weeks ago, we scheduled this trip. My oldest (almost 9 year old) daughter and I made the trip, both leaving and returning on Sunday. We brought my grandmother 15 pictures of the children and a beautiful letter that my daughter wrote her in school.
My grandmother grew up reform and lived as secular a life as possible. Except for having her sons get Bar Mitzvas in the 1950's, they were twice-a-year-Jews. Not only that, my father tells me that anything Jewish basically makes her feel very nervous and uncomfortable. That is why there were two things from our visit that show me that there is still a spark of Jewishness burning inside her.
During our visit, we went into her bedroom to be with her for only short visits. In between, we sat in her living room to let her rest and gain strength. She is still very lucid and has a good memory most of the time. However, during one period when we were in the living room, she called out my name and asked me to come in. What was her question? She asked me what her father's name was. I didn't know, so I called my parents and came back in to tell them his and her mother's names. She said she was just thinking about him being a very good man. I also think, though, that seeing her grandson and one great-granddaughter who were obviously Jewishly connected made her think about her Jewish roots, which is probably why she thought to ask about her father.
The other thing was that at one point, when I was leaving her room, she asked me if I always wear the Yarmulka. I told her that I did and she responded that "That's good." It sounds like a small thing, but for someone who's spent virtually her entire life squirming around anything Jewish, that's a big deal. The fact that she is happy that her grandson is "Jewish enough" to wear his yarmulka all of the time means to me that, at this point near the end of her life, she is comforted by the knowledge that she is leaving behind a committed Jewish line in the family.
Besides the fact that I think we made her happy and she seemed to be very satisfied that she was able to see us again, it was also a learning experience for my daughter, who got to be moser nefesh, to sacrifice, to travel on a tough trip to do the mitzva of Bikur Cholim, visiting the sick, and see her great-grandmother for the first time in her memory.
(Picture of a Corpus Christi sunset courtesy of blog.360)
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