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December 20, 1985 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-12-20

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Friday, December 20, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Fond Memories

A visit to Grandma's
has its own tradition of
favorite family stories
and nostalgia.


ey formed a reception
line of sorts, those early
residents of the Ten Mile Jewish
Federation Apartments. Sitting com-
fortably in cloth-covered chairs that
flanked each side of the original
building's main entrance, wearing
cardigan sweaters to protect from
drafts, they would momentarily stop
their gossip to mark my arrival.
They watched me balancing
groceries and a diaper bag, manuev-
ering three small children and fight-
ing to open the door with my un-
cooperative key.
With an understanding smile,
one of the women usually came to
the rescue and held open the heavy
inner door.
This signaled the reception's start.
Talking among themselves, in half
English, half Yiddish, they would
appraise my situation.
"That's Hilda's granddaughter."
"Shayna maydle."
She looks like the Momma."
"Does she come every week?"
As I waited for the elevator, I
unzipped my children's snowsuits
and took off their hats. Someone
would make a further observation.
"Look, twins."
She would aks for confirmation.
"Honey, are those babies twins?"
"Zie gezunt. You should go in
"Three boys?"
May God give you strength."
"So zis."
"So shane."
Then the clucking of approval
and admiration began in earnest.

Glenn Tries t, Benyas-Kaufman

Special to The Jewish News

I pushed the children inside the
elevator and turned to acknowledge
my audience. I shared a deep bond
with these old women. My mother-
hood was beginning; theirs was on
the wane.
We smiled the smile of co-
The elevator left us on the ninth
floor. We walked over to my
grandmother's apartment and rang
the bell.
She padded to answer in her
broken backed, brown leather slip-
pers, her cotton housecoat unbut-
toned at the neck. Her sparse grey
hair was bobby pinned into a tight
knot at the back of her head. She
greeted us joyously with her fingers,
pinching and caressing.
We stepped into her tiny apart-
ment. Household goods tumbled out
of every corner. Chipped white
enamel pots were stacked on the
range. Glass jars, glasses and every-
day dishes dried on the counter.
Smoothed out, once crumpled, brown
grocery bags lay patiently stacked
on the kitchen floor.
A miniature kitchen table,
covered with a plastic cloth, was full
of piles: grease-stained Ford Motor
Co. newsletters, old greeting cards,
puzzling medical bills, bits and
pieces of paper with shopping lists
penciled in spidery hand, rubber-
bands resting in a washed jelly jar,
half empty plastic pill bottles.
Her efficiency apartment was
cluttered with a lifetime of saving.
The oversized couch held worn
tapestry fragments, lovingly woven,

and needlepointed pillows hand sewn
by Hungarian relatives now lost to
the darkness of the Holocaust.
Family pictures stood proudly on
her doily-covered dresser — children,
grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
Smiling young couples dressed in
formal wedding clothes, serious
young men in army uniforms, babies
in black and white, babies in color,
graduates with earnest expression.
Our short visit had the pattern
of a ritual.
"Undress the kinder, they
shouldn't catch cold."
I took off their leggings, jackets
and sweaters. The twins went
straight to the plants, exploring the
vines winding around the coffee
table legs onto the floor. She would
try to divert them.
"Come sit on Bubble's lap,
I held each squirming child next
to her body and she spoke to him for
a few moments. "which one is this?"
she would whisper.
Then she would pat him--and
smell him and always say, "Be a
good boy. Listen to your mummy. Is
she feeding you enough?"
For the next hour, we visited. I
acted as interpreter for my oldest
son, asking him Bubbie's questions,
rewording his answers for her. We
talked about my parents, my hus-
band, and what was happening in
my life. She would tell me, "Relax.
Take care of yourself. Just enjoy the
Then we were warmed up, ready
for our favorite part. Bubbie sat un-

Pat Cisar visits
Eva Davidson at
the Prentis

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