Friday, April 22, 2016

#BlogExodus 14: In Praise of Sweet Passover Memories

In 2010, our family's Passover seder turned out to be the seder that wasn't. 

That morning in late March, instead of putting the finishing touches on all her seder preparations, my mom was admitted to the hospital for pain control of what we soon learned was metastatic breast cancer. She was moved to hospice on Shavuot, and died over Memorial Day weekend.  

Needless to say, Passover's been a bittersweet affair for us ever since.

Nonetheless, there were many, many years when it was a wonderful, much anticipated celebration full of family togetherness, delicious food, and afikomen hidings and findings, the retellings of which still can make us laugh!

Here are a few more of those sweet Passover memories:
  1. In 1963, my parents took me to Aunt-Claire-and-Uncle-Jash's (it was always just one word) for  my first seder. Walter-the-Whale, ever after known as Walter-a-Whale, came home with us that night, and he's been with me ever since.
  2. Many subsequent Passovers were spent there at 17 Brookshire Drive with the Maxwell House haggadah, most recently in 2011, our first without either The Mums or Uncle Jash.
  3. Passover always meant a new spring outfit, often the same one as my sister. An apple-green jumper with a matching blouse patterned in pink buds and green leaves is the one I recall most vividly, probably dating back to about 1974.
  4. Once we outgrew those matching outfits, there was always a bauble -- usually a necklace or a pair of earrings, but sometimes fun socks or lip gloss -- specially chosen by The Mums, and presented to each of us just before the candles were lit to usher in the holiday. Now, I wear a piece or two of her jewelry on special occasions, an extra reminder -- as though I need one -- of her constant presence.
  5. Living on the west coast at the time, I didn't witness this event myself, but heard repeatedly about the time my mom went in the kitchen to tell the woman hired to help serve and clean up that it was time to ladle out the soup. "What soup?" she asked. When my mom said it was in the big pot on the stove, the woman had to explain that, thinking it was dirty dish water, she'd poured it down the drain. Yup, we still talk about the year everyone ate matzah balls as the first course
Passover's still a tough holiday for us -- and it probably always will be. But tonight, when we sit down yet again to retell the story of our Exodus from Egypt, may we all bring with us sweet memories of Passovers gone by, and may we make new ones to recall in the Passovers yet to be.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this post is one in a series marking the days of the Jewish month of Nisan leading up to Passover, which begins at sundown on Friday, April 22, corresponding to 15 Nisan. If you want to play along, check out this year's  #BlogExodus and #ExodusGram prompts. Once again, this series of posts also is priming my heart, mind, and spirit to participate in  Beyond Walls: Spiritual Writing at Kenyon, a six-day summer writing seminar that is an initiative of the Kenyon Institute at  Kenyon College in Gambier, OH.