Looking Back, Looking Ahead!

Days of Atonement, clarity, introspection, meditation, taking in the moment are ways I see the High Holidays. The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur serves as a time to take stock of the past year, and think about the future.

Usually I start with creating the ritual meal. Shopping items include chicken, matza meal, noodles, apples, gefilte fish, Manischwitz Concord Grape Wine, and a round challah (getting harder, and harder to find).  The meal takes a lot of preparation and while I chop and peel I remember the past year. The lose of my parents is with me daily. I do take some comfort in knowing they are together. But this time the holiday felt different.

In the process of moving I get to look at a lot of accumulated stuff. 47 years of marriage, 31years in the same house, and only in the past month have we become “empty nesters”.  I inherited much from my parents. I found some home movies from early 1960s that I transferred onto a DVD. Technology has come a long way from a Super 8mm film camera. Back to the time of silent movies with exaggerated movements.

October begins a new chapter for the Frankel’s with the move to Fair Oaks (6 miles away).  Not so much distance, but a reset nevertheless. Still don’t know exactly how we plan to arrange our “stuff”. Luckily we have a 3 car garage, and that is where our boxes will go. Then we have another chance to decide about stuff before it finds a place in our new home. I feel excited, and I hope that enthusiasm continues.

Selling a house is not fun.  My house has never been so clean. My Libby is into the routine, and as long as I have her food ready, she jumps into the car in a moments notice.  Trying not to take feedback personally. I just hope that process does not drag on. Listed for not quite a month, and it is starting to feel old. Yesterday was the first day I didn’t go overboard and pick up every little thing.  Thinking maybe that a watched pot does not boil, a spotless house does not sell? My mother would say, “You just need one buyer, and for every house there is one buyer.” Patience. My friend Anne came over and blessed my house to release any negative spirits that may be preventing its sale.  An open house is scheduled for Sunday.  We are doing all we can!

In the coming year I plan to research my family roots. I started my family genealogy while studying for my Libraian credential in 1983. That was before Internet, computer software, and the end of the Cold War. Now there are so many ways wto proceed. New documents are coming on line all the time. I joined the Jewish Genealogy Society of Sacramento and participated in 2 classes. I am not sure where this will lead. Perhaps a book documenting my family history. Maybe just continued research into the Shoah and its  meaning in my life. Maybe a way to establish connections with other researchers and librarians. I hesitate to involve myself in another group, but maybe I do this for just that reason – to overcome.

I’m not usually comfortable joining a group, but being part of my 2nd Gen group encourages me to try and feel a part of something bigger than myself. I learn, find support and appreciate my CVHEN (Central Valley Holocaust Educators Network) 2nd Gen friends. After so many years, I finally have people I can count on. Photography helped to crack through my isolation. Despite the difficulties I encountered I could use my camera to refocus my thoughts. Getting out with friends, doing something, and creating is the key. I hope I don’t let my friends down. I plan to be mindful and appreciate my friends.

Thinking back over the past year I tried, but may not have succeeded in taking a step back around my family. The role of care taker may have placed me a position of power, and I may have sent the message that I know what is best. There is a delicate balance between taking care, and allowing space. I plan to be more mindful of this. The balance between decision making, and indecision. Some decisions I made were hard, yet I made up my mind for what I hope will be best for my family.

As is said at this time, “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.”

You Never Know… 

Time to make a change. With my parent’s death I pondered how this will affect me. Thinking I have less on my mind I found that I have been trying to find a way to simplify. One idea I had was to finally make my house exactly how I want it and remodel my house of 31 years. The other idea was moving.  Back and forth we went.  So in June I started to investigate. Live through a remodel or move.

The Internet makes looking easier. I looked out of town, and out of state, or stay in the area. I drove out to see a 55+ Del Web community, but it didn’t feel right for us. Looked at nearby community of Gold River, a group of villages with varying HOAs. A possibility, but not quite.  Then on June 4th we looked at a couple of open houses. Walked into a house that felt right, and we made an offer. Back and forth, and on Tuesday July 11th we signed the papers. Recorded on July 12th, and we have a new house. The actual move won’t happen until the first week in October. Since this actually was a fast decision I now have time to get my house ready for sale. Of course, this also means looking at all the stuff accumulated over the years of raising two kids, grandkids and job paperwork.

Should be celebrating, but instead I have been spending time at Kaiser Hospital in Roseville. You  never know. My 15 year old granddaughter had emergency surgery for appendicitis on July 11th. Turn out it was much more serious, and her appendix burst. Pulls through surgery only to be back in the hospital two weeks later because of an abscess from the surgery.  The day before school started in early August, the drainage tube was removed. Alyssa did not have much of a summer vacation.

Sacramento weather has been particularly hot. No days under 90 degrees. I spent August preparing to sell my house. Decluttering, packing, organizing. I learned that I am an organized person who saves everything. I have files filled with receipts going way back. If I stop to look at them it can be amusing. Seeing the cost of things, how long some appliances last, the number of times I fixed the same item.

I had a storage box of memories. I kept my kids artwork from first scribble. I dated these pictures and wrote what it was about. First teddy bear, first shoes, every Mother’s Day card, every story and homework project saved. This made for a fun trip down memory lane. I then got two bags and passed this along to my children. They probably recycled all of it.

I also found a box of correspondence I saved since moving to California in 1978. This must have been the last time I purged my stuff.  Long 6 page letters from busy mothers with young children. With the coming of cell phones and reduced costs the letters stopped. We now catch up a couple of times a year, or follow each other on Facebook.  This blog serves as my journal, and my need to record my thoughts. Somethings don’t change. Are you a saver or do you quickly discard?

Delayed posting this blog because I wanted to add some photos that I had on my iPhone 5s. That proved problematic.  Photos were too pixilated.  I guess I should figure this out before I plan to use iPhone photos here. So I will end now sans photos.

Rest In Peace Alina

My mother’s journey on Earth is over. She died on Tuesday February 7, 2017.  When I left North Avenue Villa early Tuesday morning I felt that the time was soon. I felt that Tuesday would be the day. Alina lived without her Arthur for 21 weeks.

On Thursday my Mom was laid to rest at Home of Peace, a Jewish Cemetery in Sacramento. Rabbi Reuven Taff met with me and my brother on Wednesday. In addition to sharing family stories I appreciated the time taken to listen to me. It allowed me some peace at a stressful time. The rainy day seemed fitting.

In the Chapel my brothers and I told stories about my Mom. Each had a different realationship to her. But what made me proud was my son Joshua’s rememberances. And then my granddaughter Alyssa spoke. Right from the heart. My goodness I will always be glad that I included her in my visits to Mom. Time well spent!

My friends turned out to support me. I again asked Anne to help with the Meal of Condolences. Liz offered to host the meal at her house. Such a trememdous relief for me.  Zelda, Eva, Susan, Diane, Liz and Anne are such special friends. Thank you!

I feel sad that our time together is over. I tried my best to take care of her. My parents are together, and they gave me a great foundation. I know that her heart was with my Dad. They met after the war and saved each other!  Another Holocaust Survivor has past. I am grateful for having my Mom.

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Endings and Beginnings

My Mom is in hospice at North Avenue Villa Board and Care home, and there has been continuous care nurses for the past few days.  I respect her wishes to join my Dad, and allow the dying process to control her. Today is day 7 without food or water.

Vitas helps to make sure that she is comfortable. The first couple of days were difficult. Mom was in pain, and the comfort drugs did not make much of a dent. Very hard to watch and hear. My brothers arrived a couple of days into the process, and we take turns sitting by her side. Being able to take a break helps.  My daughter provided some delicious home cooked meals. That was a big support.

When my Dad passed away about  5 months ago we knew my mother would want to be with her husband. So no additional funeral planning is necessary.

For most of my life I have taken direction from my responsibilities: education, marriage, jobs, kids, grandkids, and parents. It has been nearly 9 years since I moved my parents to Sacramento. Before that I was traveling back and forth to Arizona to help there.  Never experienced empty nest time, and about 3 years ago my oldest grandson came to live with us. I understand that it is hard for young people to start out, but I feel that I now need to grab the reins of my life with my husband.

After my Dad died I had no time to really grieve because I made it my role to take care of Mom the way my Dad had taken care of her. I tried to make this time together a new journey for her. I did not succeed because inevitably Mom never accepted her Arthur’s death. We could spend the day together and suddenly she would say we should check on Dad.

Since I spent many days together I thought it would be interesting to find out about the happier times in my Mom’s life before the Nazis came and destroyed her youth.  Each time I visited I picked a new topic: favorite foods, toys, sports. Sometimes I would ask about my grandparents. When I was growing up I heard so little about them. I barely knew more than their name.  I wanted to hear what they were like from her 14 year old point of view. Talking like this made time together enjoyable. But sometimes my Mom would drift into sadness, or an agitated Alzheimer state would appear. I never knew what Mom would  meet me. I do know that my dog Libby would be ready for all her emotions, and she would smile

For the first time the direction my life takes will be of my own choosing. This takes me out of my comfort zone. Plenty going through my head. I can’t even figure out how life may change. Maybe it is time to figure out my Bucket List.  Time is marching along faster and faster and I know that eventually I will become less independent. Need to grab some gusto with my husband and dog Libby!

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My path is opening up. Where will it lead me?