I lit a yorsite candle (candle lit for the dead) for my father's mother. I was thinking of her good qualities. She worked hard as a single mother but was always there for him. She gave to him, nourished him. He was her Milty. She sacrificed for him and he was a good boy.
Later, veering from studying to be a rabbi, my dad taught Latin and almost got a PHD in clinical psychology. He married my mom, a Hunter College student, and continued to break away from his mom's wishes. This caused tension with his mom, and tension with my mom, and tension between both of them.
Still later, after many fights about his mother between my mom and dad, grandma brought a bunch of belongings (perhaps his) and placed them in front of our apartment door. My parents were having numerous other difficulties, money, stress, direction, my sister and age, while watching their friends get ahead. My dad would be angry with his mom but he also had guilt about her. He had trouble standing up to her. She was a strong, proud woman and would not give an inch. Gail (my sister) and I were not her favorites, for our mother was too modern and worldly. I was not the happiest kid.
I was 15 when my mom and I traveled to my grandma’s apartment after the recent clothing drop off incident and we rang her doorbell and went in. I then angrily and aggressively told her to leave us alone, to mind her own business. I really got in her face. I forget the particulars, but I got ugly and she said "are you crazy." I had to do something as I saw her as breaking up my parents and causing them to fight. All I wanted was peace and quiet.
Periodically I would take stands like this. In my young mind I was helping save the family. The funny thing is, after I acted on their behalf, my parents would come together, forgetting what happened and think nothing of ganging up upon me. I felt used.
So, after lighting this yorsite candle I thought of my grandmother, how she tried, and worked hard to raise my dad and how she had to hustle to bring in money. She had boarders she took care of and she knew a lot about folk remedies before it was fashionable. My father said she had a horrible death.
I remembered after all this time what I had done and was not proud. What I did stained my insides. It would have been better if I didn't. I felt sad about my cruelty, sad about my anger and what it all represented. All these conflicts are such a waste and diversion from what really counts. Finally, I felt sad I could not show my grandma patience and understanding at the time, although at the time, I was under so much duress. The incident might not have been avoidable, but it was still a shame to have done it. Again and again, time makes certain things very clear.