As I’ve posted before, last October my mother passed away. One minute I was worriedly calling her social worker, the next I was an orphan.
I have now lost both my parents. I really do hate that term, lost. I didn’t lose them, they are always with me. I constantly find my father in his sifrei kodesh (holy books), which I inherited, especially in his tikkun, which, as the ba’al koreh of his synagogue, he read from every day. One Friday night not long ago, Ju-Boy was asking Biblical trivia at the supper table. I disagreed with a certain interpretation and was able to prove my point by taking out my father’s book of Bereshit (Genesis) and show him the exact Rashi commentary that proved me right. The father/daughter team was triumphant!
I find my mother in her kitchen utensils which I now proudly use regularly. I use the same hochmesser and wooden bowl she used to chop onions (and liver). I even cut my fingers in the same places she did. I can imagine as I reflexively place my wounded finger in my mouth that my mother is kissing it all better.
In Judaism, when you “lose” a parent, you enter a one year mourning period. There are many traditions one can adopt as to how to spend this year in both honoring and mourning your parent. Some of the traditions I have adopted are:
I don’t go to the movies or attend concerts or other live performances
I keep a yahrzeit candle that lasts for seven days going all year long, lighting a new one each week on Friday as I light the Shabbat candles
I don’t attend any kind of celebration (I’m missing some good ones this year, including tonight’s wedding of the daughter of dear friends)
I am not cutting my hair for the entire year of mourning
People are usually surprised by that last one. It’s a rare tradition, although not unheard of. And it’s driving me crazy. I feel I need to do this, just one way to honor my mother, who loved my long hair, loved to brush and braid it. She would spend hours detangling my long, knotted hair after a bath. While my mother would have thought I was insane to miss out on parties on her behalf, I know she would have appreciated the effort I’m making in not cutting my hair.
I have been blessed with a head full of thick, wavy, unruly, very much a-mind-of-its-own hair. It grows like a weed, it’s already halfway down my back. Every day I try to coax it into some kind of order. When I clean my brush I pull out more hair than most people have on their entire heads. And it gets everywhere. I try to clean out the drains before the family gets totally grossed out, but some a lot escapes, only to remind me later by completely clogging up the sink.
A solution my mother used to use for as long as I can remember…
Drain Cleaner and Declogger
- Pour baking soda into drain.
- Follow with vinegar.