It was October 2020, and 225 days since we saw my Dad and in-laws. We are in Western New York, and they live in Florida. It was time to visit our parents, time to reunite.
The news continued to report virus upticks and suggestions to hunker down at home as we prepared for our trip. My Mom passed on February 6, 2020, right before we KNEW about the virus. Less than a month later, my Dad would not only be learning to live alone without my Mom but now he would lose face-to-face contact with his friends.
As my readers know, we are currently truck campers. We needed to go back to Florida, and trekking in our truck was the perceived safest way.
For those of you who knew my Mom, you will understand when I wonder what she would have thought about the whole camper thing. To give some perspective, Mom thought I was roughing it when I moved to Buffalo 41 years ago.
You’re Not Bringing That Truck in Here!
After four travel days, we arrived with the camper to drop our bags at my Dad’s beautiful, gated country club community in Boca Raton. The guard at the helm immediately said, “OH NO! you can’t bring that thing in here!” (Maybe my Mom had sent a message from above!)
Mitch is very persuasive, and they finally allowed us to drop off our luggage and quickly get “that thing” out of the neighborhood!
We suspected that the RV would be banned and had parking Plan-B nearby. We settled into Dad’s house with minutes left until the Buffalo Bills game started. The Bills rule our home. But not for this fair-weather fan. I have tried to have Bill’s passion. Each year, I say this is the year I will watch every game, and then something better (always) comes up. Anyway, Mitch would be busy for four hours and ruminating for four-plus days.
Dad and I had our plan. We were going to the cemetery to visit my Mom and to start a new tradition. Our visit would be my first time going back to the cemetery since my Mom’s funeral.
Our new tradition (is that an oxymoron?) linked to an old custom shared by my parents. Every year on Yom Kippur, the holiday where many Jews fast, from sundown to sundown, my parents broke the fast with a toast. Mom would pull out the now vintage glasses with gold leaf decoration, pour orange juice, and she and my Dad would click glasses before they drank to end the day of food and drink deprivation.
Dad and I drove to the cemetery with three vintage glasses and a small orange juice. I wasn’t sure how we were going to do this and didn’t want to ask questions. We pulled up to the beautiful mausoleum where Mom had chosen as her final resting place.
We entered the solemn site, and after a few words, we began our toast. Dad poured some juice into my glass, his glass, and a symbolic glass for my mother. We clinked and drank our portion, and then Dad poured Mom’s share into both our glasses. We both toasted to Mom by clicking on the wall and sipped her serving.
It was a moving and beautiful gesture. This would have been the 65th year of my parents breaking the fast together. So many customs have changed since Mom left us. There is a deep, palpable space that once held my vibrant mother. Perhaps, this special toast to Mom will live on each year as our new tradition. I know we all must move forward but never forget the past.
Dad and I returned home to find Mitch smiling because the Bills were winning. Thankfully! The result of the football game typically dictates the mood for the remainder of our day. The Bills have a lot of power in our home!
We are thankful that we spent time with my Dad, but it was a short visit.
We Will Leave it in His Capable Hands
It was a heartbreaking parting because we have no knowledge of when we would see each other again. My Dad quoted “Fiddler on the Roof.” Remember the haunting scene when Tevye sadly sends his daughter Hodel off to be with her husband in Siberia. Hodel looks at her Dad and Says, “God only knows when we will see each other again.” Tevye replies, “Then we will leave it in his capable hands.”
We took a photo of my Dad waving as we pulled away. Not knowing the next time we will return.
Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Safe Thanksgiving! May we all be able to celebrate with our family and friends next year.