the gregarious homebody

Monday, February 2, 2009

February 3

This date is an important one to me. Two of the most important people in my life died on this date, nine years apart. Ironically, those two people were my maternal grandmother and my mom. I could get all weird (and if you know me, you know how easy it is for me to go there), I might think that this will be my death day too. Who knows? If it is, I just hope it's a long long time from now. At least I would be in awesome company.

At first I hated this day. Losing my grandmother was so hard, the fact that I lost my mom on the same day was almost unbearable to me. On the first anniversary of my mom's death I decided to combat the sadness by having some of my favorite and fun friends over for a brunch. Everyone wasn't sure what to think of that, I think, but I still laugh remembering Gina breaking the ice. Someone had brought some flowers and was mortified when they realized that there was a Super Bowl pick with a football in it. I laughed and then almost peed myself when Gina said "Well it IS the Super Bowl of death anniversaries!" Excellent.

Now, every year I go about my day, knowing my yartzeit candles are burning in the sink at home. Those stupid 99 cent candles are such a comfort to me. In Judaism, the death anniversary is very important but not for morbid reasons; we're supposed to celebrate the life that person achieved. Of course I do my share of crying, but I've tried over the years to be happy for those tears because crying for them just shows me how much they meant to me, how much they affected my life, and how lucky I am to have been a part of theirs.

SO, I want to introduce you to these two amazing women and very briefly share what they meant to me...

This is me with Marjorie Jeanette Artz, or Mommom to me, Mother to her kids, and Margie to everyone else.

This picture kind of says it all. Hugging close, smiling big, with a cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The only things not visible are the spike heels and amazing amount of costume jewelry that were part of her everyday attire.

My mommom was FUNNY. When I was upset Steve's parents wouldn't accept me not being Jewish, she told me she didn't understand since I was "Jewish by injection." !!!

She was a party animal in her day.

She was beautiful and savvy but only went to the 8th grade.

She used to tell me, with complete love in her voice when I was 2 years old, "You are JUST so GODDAMN cute!"

She called me her Angel and gave Steve the nickname Honey Bun.

She took him on as a grandson not only because she was sad he didn't have any grandparents but because he was mine.

And to her, whatever I did, no matter how inconsequential it was, was wonderful.

And just LOOK at that outfit. How could she NOT be fun??

My mom and I were also extremely close. I have no regrets about our relationship and believe me, that was a real comfort when she died. But being close also meant complication. Her opinion was more important to me than my own at times. I can remember coming downstairs when I was a teenager and asking her if she liked my outfit. If all she said was "It's fine," I'd have to change to make it better. It wasn't her fault I was so sensitive to her. It was all me. It didn't really abate once I was older either. Sometimes I must admit to feeling some relief that I don't have to worry anymore that I'm going to disappoint her in some way. I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with that!

Like her own mother, my mom was a LOT of fun. She taught me the value of being silly. She was always chasing me around the house, tangoing with me in the kitchen, and laughing with me about the silliest things. It was great to grow up knowing that it was more than okay to laugh at life--it was necessary.

My mom was also beautiful and a tremendous flirt. She did not pass that talent on to me and laughed that I became good at flirting only after I married the guy. That's her on her wedding day in the very mini wedding dress.

My mom was easy to talk to. I told her (almost) everything and knew that even if she got angry about some of it, she was glad to be told.

She was so proud of me as a person and told me often that she was proud to have been the one who raised me. I try to tell my kids this often.

She was cool and interested in things I was. She used to make us stay in the car until "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin was over. AND, at his first dinner at our house when Steve replied "Smoke what?" to her question "Do you smoke?" she didn't bat an eye.

She was a wonderful Granny to my kids. Even though they were only 5 and 8 when she died, they remember all the fun and crazy things they did with her, like having ice cream for dinner and being allowed to pee outside.

She trusted me to make all my own decisions from an early age and told me, right before I walked down the aisle, that she was proud of every single one.

On my wedding day everyone was healthy and happy.


drollgirl said...

Your mom and grandmother sound so wonderful, and you wrote an incredible tribute. I know we don't know each other, but your story was very touching, and I am so sorry that you lost them.

I lost three grandparents last year, and that was very tough. I have many regrets in that I wasn't the greatest granddaughter at all and I should've done more. It is still so painful to think about them, but that's just the way it goes. Sigh.

I don't have any great advice or words of wisdom for you, except to just hug and love on those kids of yours and keep the goodness rolling. They are lucky to be in such a great family! :)

jen said...

THANKS! Don't you love the internet? People who don't know each other nevertheless reaching out. Cool.

And, as for your grandparents, don't be so hard on yourself. My story doesn't mention that I think my grandmother's husband (my alleged grandfather) was a real bastard and though he's stillstill alive and apparently "mellowed," he's still not someone I keep in touch with.

adozeneggs said...

You know, i was just on another blog that was asking about my heritage and I typed out this big comment about my grandparents and how much I missed them.
Then I re-read the whole thing and deleted it.
I'm sorry you lost your mom and your grandmother. That was a lovely post.
Hope you had a good day, and that your membership to Ashley Madison got to you in time to cheer you up!
And didn't that Flo rida song crack you up? And also that H sounds like such an old fart every time he says "it use to be Florida"
"You spin my head round baby round round"
Although I prefer the "brown mound" version.
Just my lame attempts to make you laugh.

adozeneggs said...

And look at you on your wedding day!
All I have is a tiny polaroid of Dave and me in some dingy chapel on the Strip in Vegas.
Seriously, it had plastic red roses every where and mustard "stained glass" (plastic) windows.

jen said...


And how did you know what I got myself for Valentine's Day??

Judy said...

They were lucky to have YOU because YOU ARE GREAT.

Mary Bevevino Sayer said...

Jen, I just discovered your blog and am so impressed. I am not a computer person and had a hard time posting my 25 random things to facebook (no joke). Anyway, I just read your entry about your Grandmother and Mother. They sound like amazing women and I get the sense that you take after them! I love that you had a brunch to celebrate their anniversary. My dad passed away last Christmas (the 23rd) and it was hard mustering up the strength to celebrate this year, but when you have kids... I like the idea of celebrating the day though- I tried to do that on his birthday last year- just went out to lunch with my sisters and mother, but maybe something more special this year. I'm looking forward to reading your future entries.


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