Mama’s meltdown

I called my mother on the phone yesterday evening and this was her basic mood…

… due to some family stuff going on. Sigh. My mother turns 87 next month… is this an age thing?

(MTA – I had a whole rant on here about my mother, but about 10 minutes after posting it, I decided to take it down after all. Not the whole world needs to know all of that, after all, and while my mother really can exasperate me, I also love her and she doesn’t deserve to have her foibles plastered over the internet).

On April 3rd 1970

This morning my mother called me for my birthday and regaled again the story of my birth. My older siblings were all born at home in The Netherlands but by the time I came along, my parents and older siblings were living in Israel, in a village just outside Jerusalem, and home births were not done there. So, I was born in a hospital. My mother didn’t have me in the good, reknowned hospital not far from where we lived as my oldest brother had died there a year before and I think going back there was just too much to bear. Instead, I was born in a not so state-of-the-art hospital in the city of Jerusalem. My mother tells it like this:

“It was a Friday afternoon around 2 pm and I was outside in our back garden, hanging out the laundry to dry, nine months pregnant and a few days overdue.”

I love the memory of our back garden and when she starts telling that story, I can completely picture her in my mind’s eye with that laundry. In my childhood I’d see her hang the laundry there often and she always marvelled at how quickly it all dried again. We lived in a red house and I always picture that and then the big garden in the back with grass and flowers and shrubs and trees and a lot of sunshine. The pictures here below were taken at the back of the house about two years before I was born, when my parents and siblings first moved there. We lived in the downstairs section of the house, there were also two small apartments upstairs.

My memories of our back garden are very much linked to these following pictures (and yes, that is me at about a year old in that one picture). I loved the fir trees and to this day when it’s hot outside and I walk underneath a fir tree, the feeling and smell of that can immediately transport me back to my childhood.

Anyway, back to my mother’s story…

“I was hanging laundry when my labour started and it came in fast. Your father drove me to the hospital in Jersualem and an hour later you were born. It was an extremely quick delivery and your dad wasn’t allowed in the room. I was in a cubicle and just after you were born the doctors and nurses left me to attend a birth in a neighbouring cubicle and then a third birth in another cubicle. I almost felt like I had given birth three times that afternoon! I was then told to pick up my baby and belongings and to go and find a bed somewhere on the ward. They also gave me an antibiotics pill because apparently hygenic conditions in the hospital, especially the bathrooms, were not ideal. It was a hospital favoured by Orthodox Jews and I remember the women lying there without their wigs on, their hair very short and patchy. A rabbi came by the beds to sing a blessing for each mother and baby. When he came to my bed he said, ‘You are a goy (i.e. non Jew), I won’t sing for you.’ I protested, however, saying I didn’t want to be treated differently and that I would like a blessing for my baby as well! And so he did indeed sing his blessing for us. On Friday evening Shabbat had started and no one was allowed to be discharged on Shabbat. Papa was allowed to come by and visit us and then on Sunday, I picked up you and my belongings and discharged myself and papa picked us up to go home again.”

My mother loves telling this story and I have heard it so often! I always used to roll my eyes at her when she would tell me the story of my birth yet again, willing her to be done with it as soon as possible and trying to rush her along. Yet now that I have children of my own, I find myself repeating stories of their births to them as well and they are impatient with me about that too. It took me to have children of my own to finally understand my mother better and her need for telling this story as I now too like to do the same thing with my kids on occasion. And so this morning, when mama called me and told me again about how I was born, I smiled happily and was glad to still have her around to tell it.

The week that was

Mr E has been feeling off since mid last week with throat aches, head aches and very tired. The Corona Omicron variant is around us everywhere, or rather, around mini me. Some of her football team mates and some class mates have tested positive. She’s been testing herself almost daily through all of last week but so far nothing. We thought maybe Mr E might somehow have contracted it too (even though both he and I still work from home and don’t mingle that much with others). He’s been doing at home tests as well and so far everything remains negative. Fingers crossed!

Also this past week, Junior finally got an eagle tattoo after saying for ages that he wanted one. Early in the week he went in to the tattoo shop he had picked to talk about what he wanted and he got a quote. On Friday he was inked. The eagle has a special meaning for him and he’s stoked with the end result. He wanted it on the inside of his arm so that it’s easy to cover under t-shirts and shirts if necessary.

I like it and he has inspired me to finally go for the tattoo that I have been wanting to get for years but never dared to. I think I may drop by the shop next week and speak with them about the design I want (on my foot).

After our latest Covid lockdown, the cinemas have been open again for a week or so now. Entry is only allowed with a valid vaccination pass. You have to wear masks until you get to your seat and you are seated at a distance from others, which I love. Secretly I hope this seating at a distance in the cinema will become the norm forever. I know, not happening, but I like to dream. Anyway, Junior and I went to see the new Spider Man movie (mini me had already gone to see it with friends a few days before).

I really liked it! I also really like Tom Holland and I love Zendaya. They are apparently a couple in real life too. So cute!

Today my siblings, aunt and mini me & I (without Mr E and Junior had other commitments) met at my mother’s house to belatedly celebrate my father’s life on the occasion of his birthday a little over a week ago. I had a celebratory cake made. We were also going to visit his grave but as there was to be stormy weather today, my mom and a few of us went there yesterday instead (Junior did join me for that). My mother did a reading and we placed small stones with our names on them that my mom had inscribed.

It was nice to commemorate and celebrate without breaking down in tears for a change. My mother shared a story of when she and my father had been invited to a synagogue in Jerusalem in the late 1970s. The rabbi had called on my father (a Dutch Protestant pastor) during the service and had called him a ‘Tzaddik’, which means one of the few righteous ones. It was nice to remember that. It was also fun to remember my dad’s driving ‘skills’ which even had us in fits of laughter for a bit. I like when my family can get together like that and just have some fun chatting away and sharing stories.

And last but not least, for the first time in months I went to the hairdressers again this past week. The hair was quite long and I was getting annoyed with it, so I had it cropped to shoulder length and I feel much better. It’s amazing what a good haircut can do to enhance the mood.

Right, off to find something easy to watch now, maybe a Hallmark movie, and clear the head before my work week starts again tomorrow with a Teams meeting at 9 am.

Preoccupations of late

It feels like I have posted so little of late but when I look at what I posted this past January, I’ve not been as quiet as I thought I’d been. With so many things that cross my path (or my screen) I so often find myself thinking, “ooh, I could blog about this”! Recently, however, it has felt like I’ve been considering blogging less and less and I’m not sure why. It’s not like I’m more busy than usual, I’m not in one of my binge-phases and I’m not even feeling more low than usual (which does tend to happen to me in winter). I just have little to say of late, it seems.

This afternoon it came to me that I had not written anything new on my blog in close to two weeks (the two last posts were celebration posts I had written in advance and had scheduled for publication) and that feels long ago. So, today, to get back into the swing of things, here are a few things that have been preoccupying me of late:

  • Last weekend Mr E and I went away to a hotel in the woods in the east near the German border (and we also visited the town of Kleve in Germany) to celebrate our 30 years of being together. There were of course Covid restrictions to adhere to and we kept our distance everywhere, so it was all good. Even though it wasn’t far, it was lovely to be away for a few days, just the two of us.
  • I am getting to that age where the first friends of my generation are becoming grandmothers! My good friend’s daughter, in her early 20s, just gave birth to a baby daughter the other day. I’m really stoked and will go shopping for a little gift to send to the USA tomorrow morning.
  • Only two more weeks to go and then I can start in my new job! It’ll be 50% in the new job / 50% in my old job for the first few weeks but I’m so looking forward to that! I have just about zero motivation left in my current job and am happy that I can slowly let go of things and say “count me out for that!”
  • Mini me has started entry exams for two applied sciences universities. She has a very specific area of study that she wants to do and there aren’t many spots open in the field but she’s giving it a shot. If she doesn’t get in, she can always do a longer route to get where she wants to end up but of course we’re hoping for the shorter and specific route. Fingers crossed!
  • My main actor squeeze Richard Armitage has more new voice work coming up. Yeah, I won’t be hearing that as audiobooks and I just don’t go together well. One of the new projects is apparently also his voicing of the baddie in a game called Warhammer. I’d never heard of that game before and when I asked Junior he said he knew of the game but had never played it. As I was walking through a shop in Germany this past weekend, I saw this. Apparently that game is a pretty big deal!
  • I am avoiding the news a lot recently. Boris Johnson, Covid nonsense, the scariness of the Russia – Ukraine situation are so frustrating and there is nothing I can do about that. So, I choose to switch off the news and just stick to reading a digest now and again to stay in the loop a bit.
  • I’m reading a book on my e-reader right now called What Makes a Marriage Last : 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue (I’ve heard of them before but they are no big names over here). I’m reading the book because some of the couples they interviewed really intrigued me and, being in a long-term relationship myself, the subject also intrigued me.

    I could do with a little less of Marlo and Phil inserting themselves and their situations in the interviews and sometimes I wish for a little more elaboration when something that I feel is important is skipped over. Still, it really is quite an interesting read. Each interview is about 10-15 pages long, so I can read a few at a time and then let it go for a while (I still have about 1/3 of the book to go).

    There are many differences in how married life is shaped for these couples but the common ground does seem to be to stay connected and interested in the other, in allowing the other to be themselves and in communicating and actually liking the other. I can attest to all of that. I keep on thinking about how my own marriage would be portrayed in such a book. Maybe I should write my own chapter sometime.
  • Last but not least, on another personal note: I had a huge post sitting in my drafts for over a month on how annoying my mother can be, illustrated by some examples over Christmas. I finally deleted that post today and decided to celebrate her instead because, despite any annoyances (and I know that I sometimes annoy her too), she really is awesome and I’m glad she’s still around to get annoyed at!

So, yeah, I have been preoccupied with some things. Maybe now I can find my way back to actually wanting to blog about them more.

Mama

Today is my mother’s 86th birthday and we’re still so lucky to have her around! This picture of her, taken in the Galilee in Israel a year before she was married, features prominently on our family wall calendar for the month of November. I love this photo.

She is a very special mother with a big heart who was a loving and equal partner in her marriage (my parents’ marriage was a real role model for me), who raised a family of eight children (four of whom were adopted), who had even more children in her temporary care (including my oldest brother who died at age seven a year before I was born), who did volunteer work and paid work (as a librarian) on the side, who moved house with all those kids several times from The Netherlands to Israel to Germany, who is a painter and who has always been able to make a warm home and keep the family together through thick and thin. Yes, there are a few not so easy traits about her, but my goodness, she gave me a great example of how to be your own woman, how to not compromise on picking the right partner in life, how to value independence of mind and how to raise children with integrity and care.

My youngest brother is in Israel right now for a fortnight and today, on my mother’s birthday, he visited my oldest brother’s grave. A family cousin of ours, who also lives in Israel, went with him and freshened up the lettering on the gravestone. My younger brother laid down a small commemorative stone from my mother which made me wipe away a tear. She never forgets those she loved who cannot be with us anymore.

My mother has had a very full and joyful life but has also had to deal with some real hardships, such as her childhood during the Second World War and surviving a hunger winter, losing my brother, losing my oldest sister who broke off all contact for no one really knows what reason, losing my father, the difficulties of repeatedly uprooting her life and her family and through it all she has never lost her warmth and her love. Now, in old age, she still lives on her own, she is still mentally fit and healthy even though walking is not so easy for her anymore and she tires more easily than she used to. She is a true mother hen, we all love her dearly and we hope to have her around for many more years to come.

This coming weekend we will be celebrating her birthday properly. My two older brothers will be coming over from abroad and we will all be together again as a family for the first time since Christmas 2019! My mother has organized the party herself (well, delegated most of it) and it will fill her heart with so much joy to have everyone around again. It fills my heart with joy too. Happy birthday, mama!