Baruch dayan emet
My former Husband's mother died.
I was married for 20 years and was introduced to her a year or two before my marriage. Dorothy and I always had an interesting relationship...oh did I remind y'all my first husband was Jewish...and at that time I wasn't.
I married a secular Jewish man who one might use the label of "self hating Jew" to describe him. He has disdain for all things Jewish but to be fair he has disdain for most things religious. He would say he was biologically and or culturally Jewish but would call most ritual mumbo jumbo or voodoo.I carried the "Jewishness" of the family from a ritual standpoint for my daughter... I made sure she had connections to it and made my own attempts at home based events such as Hanukkah.
as I was saying, my relationship with Dorothy was complicated. I believe Dorothy was a product of her age and generation. In her time I think she was an ambitious woman who had dreams and aspirations that were slightly out of her reach, of course not due to her. She was smart, almost sassy and always had an opinion on any topic that might manifest. In some ways she was admirable for having carved and cobbled a life together out of the strands she was given...in other ways I found her difficult to get to know, at times she appeared to be not the most warm individual,but that could just be my perception. To me, she always felt as if there was a distance that could never be transversed.This could be due to the many difficulties she had encountered in her life.
Yet over my tenure as daughter-in-Law...the first daughter-in-law...(there is another, daughter-in law...I experienced this as complicated as it can be in most families) I did much care taking. Yet no matter how long I was in the family I think in a mostly unconscious way, I felt I was labeled as the "other". Even at times when it was clear she was having much difficulty with my Jew from birth daughter-in-law counterpart (this in the beginning of her entry into the family...). I was still the non-Jew.(of course this could have been my own "stuff"!)
I have a number of memories but one of the most lasting was our Passover ritual. It was difficult to get the family to decide when we would gather. I most often would insist on the appropriate nights, first or second... but the difficulties would mean sometime yes and sometimes no. She had hagadhs from the 50's or 60's they had Elsie the cow on them!...and every year she would precede to ask/tell me what was happening at the Seder table. may I add not in the most affectionate way!...not mean mind you, just very practical...20 years of this...as my daughter got older it became a game between us as to when Grandma would educate me on all things Jewish. In fact I was the one who wanted to "do" Passover fully with some spirituality....clearly I was not supported in this endeavor.
Once the divorce word crossed our collective lips (my husband and me)I never saw her or his family again.It is important to note that I hold the land speed record for divorce. Having uttered the word in January, entered mediation in February we had a completed agreement by the beginning of May. That part of my life was disappeared they all were gone not to be seen again....that is until Dorthy became sick.
Over the past year the lung issues she had been dealing with for many years had finely been labeled Lung Cancer. as she and her family struggled with choosing the right directions, I had a far off sideline seat. My former husband and I now have a respectable amiable relationship. We are not sharing holidays and hanging out together, but we can talk, share in events that are important to our daughter and in general be ok with one another. Then as it became clear to me, (I used to work as a social worker in an oncology department) that Dorothy would not find her way to a remission, closing this chapter of my life seemed important.
I ended up seeing her during one of her last hospitalizations. It was somewhat awkward. My new found Jewishness was a major part of the conversation. One thing she said did make me smile. she said "you were always more Jewish than all of us."
so now Dorothy is of blessed memory...
Hamakom y'nachem etchem b'toch sh'ar availai tziyon ee yerushalayim