Today is my Mom’s birthday. Born in 1939 in Baghdad, arriving in Palestine with her parents and five sisters and four brothers soon after, she spent her childhood in the wilds of Ramat Gan, before meeting and marrying my father in 1963. She was the first person in her family to leave Israel for America, where she settled into a life as a wife and mother in Elmhurst Queens. A different and isolated life at first, my Mother learned how to speak, read and write English, going on to work in the fast food industry once my brother and I started school. We spent our summers in Israel, shuttling from the house of one sister or brother to the next, getting to know my extended family, becoming fluent in my mothers second language, Hebrew, occasionally picking up some of her native tongue, Arabic. My Mother has always been the social one in our family, her door open to her friends and family, and she imbued me with that generous spirit as I became an adult. She has at least ten Facebook accounts and two Instagram and she favors WhatsApp over any of her apps, with YouTube a close second. She spent fifty two years married and has spent the last five years as a widow, and through all of that, she has found a way to make everyone around her laugh even when she herself was in tremendous pain. This last year of the pandemic as been rough on us all and yet my Mom has taken to her first best friend, her sewing machine, and used this time to sew masks, mostly matching masks to the ensembles she wears, cloth cut from the hems of her dress or skirt. Now with her iPad, she watches movies in Hebrew and we FaceTime everyday, waiting anxiously for her vaccine so that we can be together in person again. This has been the first stretch of time -/over a year— where she has not spent three weeks at a time in my apartment, trying to convince me to wear any make up at all or sitting beside me on my couch as I knit and she inspects my work or she calls Rocky strange names as she plays with him. I’ve missed her beside me but thanks to technology, I speak to her everyday and that, that is a gift
Happy 81st Birthday MOM.