I forgot I had this book. I think my mom gave it to me some time ago. It is about a woman’s journey to connect with her grandmothers and her memories of them by embracing a more observant Jewish life. Well, that and cooking. (The book is filled with recipes!)
For some reason, I picked it up last night.
And this bookmark was on page 227.
It marked these words:
Once I knew I was a certain kind of Jew and I was comfortable in that identity. My heritage was Jewish, I was a cultural Jew. My cultural memories were Jewish. But I was Jewish and American, and the identification with my hybrid roots was also strong. I strove to be a pure hybrid.
And I tried to remember why I marked the page. I surely identify with the quote but barely remember seeing it before. But it must have spoken to me at some level. Or perhaps I had just stuck the bookmark in the book randomly.
I don’t know.
But the bookmark.
It was made by Andrew’s great aunt Abbey who died last year at age 101. Abbey was a character; a strong and opinionated woman who had lived a long (clearly) and interesting life. She wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.
But I really liked her. Her stories fascinated me. And I loved that she made things. I have boxes of handmade greeting cards and several of these flower-pressed bookmarks. These were her flowers from her garden.
She had a beautiful garden. Her love for flowers is evident in her niece, my mother-in-law, too. Some people just understand how to cultivate and encourage flowers, I think.
I am not one of these people. Abbey gave me seeds one time. I hurried home to plant them. I don’t think I ever saw a sprout. I suppose I grow other things in other ways. And that’s okay with me. But I am envious of those gardens, like the one across the street from us. I appreciate the beauty.
Yesterday, we went to a beautiful botanical garden and I was overwhelmed. The boys didn’t go eagerly. But they will eagerly go back. There was something in the air besides the lovely fragrance – a peace of sorts.
I’m going to read this book and then I’ll use this bookmark pressed with memories and stories to mark another place in another book.
And the story continues.