My Jewish Mother, Happy Mother’s Day
I met my Jewish mother in Mexico. She invited Dwight and me to stay with her in San Miguel Allende. Lois and Richard traveled for his work. He was an artist.
Somehow, even after Dwight’s stroke and my limited experience as a traveler, we navigated three airports, a bus from Mexico City, and a cab to reach Lois’ door. With her big smile, she opened it and welcomed me into her home and heart.
For Lois, it did not matter that I was forty-two years younger. It mattered that I loved Dwight. Because I loved him, she loved me. No questions asked.
Surrounded by big, bright, beautiful flowers of all shapes and sizes, we settled into a week in Mexico.
Being a mom, Lois applied sunscreen to Dwight as we sat on the patio.
Back home, we lived in a one-bedroom condo in high-rise in downtown Salt Lake City during the week. There was not much privacy when it came to phone conversations.
While planning our summer vacation to Michigan, I overheard Dwight and Lois planning our wedding and asked, “Should I pack a dress?”
I packed a Nicole Miller dress.
Lois organized EVERYTHING–from the challah bread to the paella, the chuppa to the flowers, the harpist to the rabbi. Since it was my first wedding and Dwight’s fifth, Lois made sure I picked the cake. I chose chocolate. She had it wrapped in white chocolate.
We spent the week before our wedding with Richard and Lois.
Lois taught me three things that week:
1. Keep a knipple. (A stash of cash, so you always have your own money.)
3. “You always have a day girl.”
The day of our wedding, I moved into The Hotel Birmingham. Richard picked me up. I was scared to death to meet Dwight’s family. So scared, I didn’t leave Richard and Lois’ room until the harp started playing.
Dwight’s youngest daughter hated me and made that clear to the point Dwight told her, “You are not welcome in my home until you can treat everyone in it with decency, respect, and grace.” To that end, I had not seen her in months. My stomach turned at the idea of facing that hostile hatred.
But, Lois told me to “smile.” And, everyone else was kind.
Richard walked me down the aisle to the chuppa. I could hear Dwight say, “She looks so beautiful, I’m going to cry.”
I saw Lois smiling and Dwight. She was smiling her smile.
Richard’s giant paw placed my hand in Dwight’s.
During the ceremony, our Rabbi spoke of our uniqueness as a couple. Then, explaining the chuppa and how it is open on all sides, like our home, to our friends and our family, I looked at Lois.
Today, the day before Mother’s Day, my heart hurts. But, it is full.
I miss my Jewish mother, Richard, Dr. Bill, and, of course Dwight.
It is, however, bieshert, “meant to be,” that these angels fill my heart.
And so, my dear mother, I will smile.
It is a bit ironic that, having met my Jewish mother in Mexico, my neighbors, who are Mexican, call me “our white mother.”