Have I told you the story about my Bubbe [Yiddish, grandmother] coming to my son’s Bar Mitzvah but she was already dead? This is a true story that if I had not been there to experience it, I would not believe it!
Parapsychology is the study of phenomena, as in telepathy and clairvoyance that are inexplicable by known natural laws, according to Webster. These events happened on Thursday, June 28th, 1984, from 11:00am-12:00 midnight:
It was two days before Randy’s Bar Mitzvah, about 10 weeks after Bubbe had died. It was a bittersweet time for me. On one hand it was my only son’s Bar Mitzvah weekend and on the other, my Bubbe was not there to share it with us and I was going through a very difficult divorce. He and I were not speaking, he was engaged and bringing her to the Bar Mitzvah and I had not met her yet.
Several years earlier at a National Sisterhood Convention I had bought a book for Bubbe called Bubbe and Me, a sweet story about a little girl and her Bubbe. The front cover is a wonderful picture of this little girl and her Bubbe sitting on a couch and you couldn’t help but smile when you saw the love they shared. After my Bubbe died I brought the book to my house and placed it on a shelf seven feet off the ground in my bedroom.
About 11:00am on Thursday before the Bar Mitzvah I got a phone call from my dear cousin in Chicago saying her mother was ill and she would not be able to fly out for the weekend. I was so disappointed, I cried. My cousin is a very wonderful person and I needed her support to get through the next few days. I remember just sitting on the floor and crying, Bubbe wasn’t there and now one of my close family members wasn’t going to be there…I felt very much alone.
About an hour after that call I stepped into my bedroom and noticed the Bubbe and Me book was on the floor. My first reaction was to look around to see if anything else had fallen or if chandeliers were swaying, being that we lived in California earthquake country. Nothing in my entire house was out of place!
I was perplexed as to how the book got to the floor, considering I was the only one home and obviously there had been no shakers. I picked up the book, climbed onto the arm of the couch near the bookcase and carefully put the book back on the shelf.
I went about my day getting the last minute details ready for the Bar Mitzvah.
At 6:00 that evening I had a meeting with the man who was to set up the tables and chairs at the reception hall. As we spoke I noticed a small group of men having a meeting in this same room when one approached me and asked what I was doing here. I explained about the party on Saturday night and he proceeded to rudely tell me I could not rearrange the tables and chairs. I told him about the contract I had with the facility, it was already agreed I could change things around, blah, blah, blah and he got loud and nasty and I got upset and he got nastier and finally I ran out of the place crying! I drove home sobbing, not knowing at that moment how to contact the office of the facility, upset that Bubbe wasn’t with me and that my cousin wasn’t there to console me and feeling even more alone and scared about pulling off this Bar Mitzvah! Did I mention that he chose to come as a guest and had no part in planning the event?
I saw that my kids were playing outside when I got home and I ran right up to my room, plopped on my bed and cried. After a few minutes, I took a deep breath knowing that in the morning I could call the office as I had a signed contract for the reception room. As I got off the bed something caught my eye on the floor…the Bubbe and Me book had fallen off the shelf again! I froze, looked around and saw everything else was in place. I felt spooked! An eeriness took hold of me, as I could not see a reason why this book had fallen off the shelf twice in one day! I picked up the book, climbed onto the arm of the couch near the bookcase and carefully put the book back on the shelf.
Being the gourmet he is and after many cooking classes, my son didn’t want store-bought mints on the tables for his reception, so we decided to make homemade “chocolate turtles.” It’s now 9:00pm, after a very hectic day, when we started this project. Sometime after 10:00 with chocolate all over me, the kids and the kitchen, the phone rang and a man said he was returning my call and instantly I could hear that there was long distance sounds between me and the caller (pre cell phones). He identified himself as a photographer with “how can I help you?” I refreshed his memory that he was taking pictures at my son’s Bar Mitzvah on Saturday “and why does it sound like you are so far away?”
He responded with “I’m not doing any Bar Mitzvah on Saturday and I’m in Sioux City, Iowa!” My very calm response was “YES, YOU ARE DOING A BAR MITZVAH ON SATURDAY, IN WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIFORNIA, I’M HOLDING THE CONTRACT THAT I SIGNED THAT SHOWS I GAVE YOU A $200.00 DEPOSIT AND YOU BETTER GET YOUR TUSHIE ON A PLANE TOMORROW!”
The poor man was freaked out and told me he’d call back in a few minutes. At that point I knew I could laugh or cry, so the kids and I licked chocolate from our fingers and laughed! The photographer did call back saying he did not have us on his books but would be there on time. It took me till midnight to finish the chocolate turtles, get the kids in bed and clean the kitchen. Needless to say I was exhausted from my day, emotionally not ready for this Bar Mitzvah and feeling “How am I going to get through this?”
Finally, I walked up to my room, and YES! The Bubbe and Me book was AGAIN on the floor! It is difficult to describe how I felt at that moment but I do remember taking a big breath, walking over and picking up the book and hugging it, sitting on the couch and out loud I said, “OK, Bubbe, I know everything will be alright.”
How did I know that?
Because, she was there, next to me on the couch, like on the cover of the book, letting me know I wasn’t alone. I picked up the book, climbed onto the arm of the couch near the bookcase and carefully put the book back on the shelf. The book never fell down again!
And her essence was with all of us that weekend. I held a scarf of hers during the service and when other family members knew it had belonged to her, they all held it, smelled it, kissed it and passed it on. We all felt her presence. Since then I am always aware of my Bubie’s influence, presence and her watching over all of us, at all times. And more importantly, her message to me was that of HOPE.
Things will get better. It may take some time. But that is our Jewish way.
I attended a Bar Mitzvah the last weekend of December and the Torah portion was the end of Genesis, about hope, change, being strong and how our tradition tells us that the world can be a better place. We need to be open to feeling G-d’s presence in our lives, to know that our stories are yet without endings and as the journey continues, we are in the exact place we are suppose to be in that journey.
2012 was a difficult year for many people, our country and the world. It is hard to find hope in the pain we see others and ourselves suffer. But without hope, we are nowhere. We have to be examples of hope and faith for our kids and grandchildren. We have to offer the concept of Tikun Olam and show them a call to action for mitzvot. As a community, as families and individuals we can spread hope.
When one chapter closes, a new one begins. May G-d bring us peace in 2013.
As a Baby Boomer Bubbe who still feels 18 but has four grand kids to prove this is the 21 Century, Sandra writes to leave a legacy for the next generations. Her belief that these precious kids need to know their cultural and family’s past in order for them to live their future is all the muse she needs!
She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Cross Cultural studies, has written a family history, personal memoir and is completing her first novel.
Her grandmother’s journey to America and life is her source for her deep belief and love for Judaism.