All There Is, and more

We do not remember days: We remember moments

    My Yiddish speaking ancestors said it best:  “Mit ine tuchas, ken men nit tantzen oyf tzvai chasones!” (With one tuchas, you can’t dance at two weddings.)
    Still, the women in my family historically suffer from a documented disorder called FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. We want to attend all weddings, graduations, bar mitzvahs, funerals and ship launches.
    “All You Can Eat Buffet Breakfast”? We’re there.
    One autumn afternoon in 1962, the secretary of my Hebrew school announced that the President’s motorcade would pass by. The bearded rebbe led us up the embankment of the Belt Parkway where, for two minutes, we waved mini-American flags as President Kennedy’s limousine scooted past.
    In 1976, I stood with strangers to watch the Tall Ships Parade pass through Boston Harbor because a barrister in the coffee shop on Charles Street told me it was history in the making.
    What does a New York Jew know from Tall Ships? Never you mind. They sail, I’m there.
    The next month I roasted under a hot, July 4th sun to hear the late maestro Arthur Fiedler direct the Boston Pops at the famed Esplanade, simply because I’d heard it would be his last performance. 
    Building upon the aforementioned reasoning, I had the great merit to see the world’s most renowned mime, Marcel Marceau, in his last stage performance at the Jerusalem Theater, circa 1996. My girls were way too young to understand why the urgent schlepping, but I insisted on beginning FOMO training early. 
    But back to the trip.
    I landed in Dulles and in the rental car, drove directly to Mom’s Independent/Assisted Living Center in Rockville, Maryland. I knew she was in her room because the roar of CNN was deafening even as I exited the elevator on floor three. The door was unlocked and after the moment it took for her to recognize me, she gasped and shouted, “It’s you!” 
    My mother is the crowned queen of FOMO herself. At 93, she is still anxious to attend all family events, even those that are not yet scheduled. She can no longer walk for more than a few steps without employing a wheeled ambulator and relies on hearing aids and frequent medications.  Aides assist her at various scheduled times throughout the day with all of her needs. “Pshaw, pshaw,” she says.  “Trifling. A mere bagatelle” is her take on her diminishing condition. 
    For over two weeks, Mom and I were roommates. Six or seven of those days were religious holidays and we slept at my brother’s home. With assistance, she must have walked the steep inside steps approximately 50 times between meals, bathroom breaks and bed. Both Passover seders lasted well into the early hours of the morning and Mom stayed up for both of them.
    I took afternoon naps in order to last but not Mom. Guests arrived throughout the days and Irma didn’t miss a conversation, snack-time, or story session with resident great-grandchildren. Did she follow every conversation or grasp the nuance of various discussions? No. But she was extremely ‘present.’ 
    Before I departed for the long, arduous return to Ben Gurion Airport, Mom left me with one message: When one of my sons becomes engaged, she will fly eleven hours to the Holy Land, if only to drink a l’chaim and dance the Hora. No pressure intended, of course.
    History is not necessarily identifiable as it unfolds. Still, by glomming onto moments that are subtle and precious, we can sneak a glimpse into those precious life events that ultimately mesh into something called ‘legacy.’  The trick is to be, like Mom, present.   

New York native Andrea Simantov has lived in Jerusalem since 1995. She writes for several publications, appears regularly on Israel National Radio and owns an image consulting firm for women.






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