Sunday, July 09, 2006


The last couple of weekends have been wedding-city, and you get to spend time with your friends, and their families, and it's generally a good thing.

What I've noticed is, that a lot of my friends have grandparents. Some friends who got married last April had three grandparent sitting on the front row, and one who couldn't travel up to Yorkshire. Yesterday, there were two (married) grandparents, who'd been married since 1953. Which is a long time, in anyone's book.

I think I miss my grandparents. I haven't had any since I was at college, and when I look at my friends, and the relationships they have - for good or bad - they add depth, history, context to their life.

My father's father died tragically young (although I was a very small child, and couldn't tell). During the shiva week, my grandma told me had gone to heaven to help Gd with the angels, and if I looked carefully skyward, I could see him. I sought him out till I walked into a lampost.

That grandma died when I was at college, I think, and towards the end, she only spoke in Yiddish. I think I would like to sit and discuss antiques and books with her.

On the other side, my grandpa had had a stroke well before I was born, so I never knew him as he was. To me, he was a shuffling old man, who couldn't talk, who basked in my grandma's love and attention. I like to think that I get some of my interest in community and commitment to public service from him.

My grandma is, for some reason, the grandparent I feel closest to. Even though she was, at times, a difficult woman (although never to me: she was my main supplier of jelly babies), I feel a bond with her. Once, I went on holiday to an unreformed Mediterranean-damp thirties hotel in the Dead Sea and took the waters and had some over-built (female) Russian emigre pummel me like challah dough, all in the name of a massage. And as I wandered around this place - the name will come to me - I kept thinking of my grandma. And then, when I got home, my mum told my grandma used to go there, frequently.

Like, I have some of her clothes, and acessories, and I kid myself that I have some of her style (she was very stylish). And I went through a stage of wearing a lot of brown and thirties acessories, because I felt like that was what she would have worn in the olden days. But apparently, the olden days were just not as good as we thought. Although there was a lot of brown.

I fantasise about what it would be like if she was here; we would go shopping and meet for coffee. She would tell me to get a manicure (she was very committed to her manicure, as I remember her). She would be a benign, if firm, loving force in my life, and we would discuss recipes (I suspect she did not cook so much, but this is a fantasy), and family history, shopping, fashion, theatre.

There's a Jewish tradition, that under a chuppah - wedding canopy - all your grandparents, and family that aren't here anymore, come and stand with you. I think it would be nice if it was like that all the time.

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