This is my great aunt Celia with her husband, my great Uncle Jake.
As a young woman Auntie Celia emigrated from Russia to the U.S.
She served as domestic help to the family of a distant relative.
She was not formally educated.
She was wise.
One of Auntie Celia’s legs was shorter than the other, so she wore a heavy thick black shoe on that foot.
Auntie Celia and Uncle Jake spoke, often in Yiddish, and always with thick Russian accents, no matter what language.
They referred to “the car” as “The Machine” pronouncing the “ch” as in Cha Cha, the dance.
“You vill pick me up in The Machine?” She would ask.
In my thirties I traveled from Boston to DC once a month.
I parked my car at Auntie Celia’s then took the train to Logan airport.
She and I had a visit on both ends of the trip.
Uncle Jake had died years before.
The daytime soaps were always playing on her TV – volume up loud.
It’s how she learned to speak English. Not a bad teacher, based on her fluency, if not her accent.
She taught me important life lessons. (I trust she didn’t learn them from the soaps.)
Like this one.
I was concerned that my parents would be unhappy with my marriage.
She asked, “Do you love each other?”
“Do you make each other happy?”
“That’s all. No one (vun) else in this marriage, just two of you. No vun else matters. Just two of you.”
I visited with Auntie Celia and Uncle Jake when he was in the hospital, dying.
I saw him reach up from his sick bed and grab her breast, laughing.
She laughed in return.
Even as he was dying.
Especially as he was dying.
Is there a better time?
A Ladle of Memories
This is The Ladle I inherited, or took, when Auntie Celia died.
She made chicken soup for Uncle Jake every day and served it with The Ladle.
It’s what he wanted for dinner upon returning from Boston Public Library where he read newspapers in Yiddish, English, and Spanish. He was learning the latter by reading the same article in all three languages…in his late 70s. When he came home she had his chicken soup waiting. I’m sure the soap operas were playing in the background.
I think of her every time I use The Ladle.
The Ladle of Memories are pleasant.
They put a smile on my face and in my mind.
I think of the life lessons she taught me each time I use The Ladle of Memories.
The ladle is worth maybe ten cents, at a yard sale.
But the The Ladle of Memories and life lessons?
So as we work hard to create and leave a legacy of green paper fortunes, let’s take time to create and leave a ladle of memories.