Friday, September 22, 2017

1. A Standing Meditation

Avot v’imahot
or the connection with our ancestors

years before my grandfather painted apartments in the bronx he served in the russian army a job he left to travel first to ellis island where his name became mangled and he lost the last few letters of his last name and ended up in a tenement building on the lower east side along with other immigrants and there he met his wife who had long red hair

I don’t know how or when they migrated to the bronx with their family of three sons and one daughter or how he became a house painter

his wife, cecila, loved purple and cooked potato pancakes and all my older cousins believed that she made wine in the bathtub but that was never proved and i didn’t care because all i wanted to do was watch her brush her long red hair and twist it into a figure eight held together with a few barrettes and a deft touch

we visited their apartment every other sunday even though my mother thought it too often and i became bored

in the afternoon my grandfather stood facing the direction of jerusalem and davened

my mother's mother, yette, was married to a man who drove a meat truck and was active in the teamsters and because of his union background i learned to never cross a picket line and i never have

he died when I was three and my grandmother came to live with us in a three room rent controlled apartment in the bronx where i never thought we didn't have enough space and my grandmother and i shared the bedroom while my parents slept on a pullout bed in the living room

yette had a beautiful soul and for years attended night school english classes where she learned how to speak "american" and wrote short sentences on scraps of paper which she kept in her pocketbook--i,too,keep scraps of paper with sentences or quotes in my tote bag

she taught me how to play pisha pasha, a card game, and told me to never pass by someone who is homeless and asking for money

I don't know the people who came before my grandparents although i did know that they came from poland and russia and a few from germany


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