1.29.2007

Loss and Memory

In the waning hour of the 10th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, I just want to acknowledge that today is my maternal grandfather's third yahrzeit, may his memory be for a blessing.

I had a strange dream about him over Shabbat. My grandfather appears in my dreams almost every time I visit my grandmother, may she live and be well, in California. In those California dreams, he appears in the house doing very normal things, and I know that he's dead and that I can't possibly be seeing him still alive, but there he is. Soon after his death, my dream narratives usually involved him somehow not having died, and that's why he appeared to be alive. In more recent dreams, though, I've been quite aware of his passing, but can still see him. Over Shabbat, one of these dreams involved me trying to ascertain if anybody else in the house could see him. They could not and they were upset at me for suggesting that I could see him. I found it very frustrating, since I knew and acknowledged that he was no longer alive. He didn't do anything in that dream, though, and that wasn't the weird one.

The weird one was that I was in Palo Alto with my grandmother and assorted other relatives--aunt and siblings, I think, although my mother may have been there as well--and it was time to say kiddush on Friday night. My grandfather wasn't there and it was clear that he had died sometime in the semi-recent past. Now, my grandfather always read kiddush off of photocopied sheets. I have no idea why, or where they came from, but when it was time for kiddush, he always put on a shiny satin kippah, fished one of these sheets out of the buffet drawer, and read kiddush off of it. This, despite the fact that the same buffet drawer was full of benchers that no doubt also had kiddush in them and despite the fact that he definitely knew kiddush by heart. In the dream, something had happened to these kiddush sheets. Maybe they had one too many run-ins with spilled wine. There was only one sheet left, but it was ripped, and you could only see the beginning of kiddush.

Someone tried to read kiddush off of it, but when they got to the part where the words stopped, they couldn't remember the end even though they normally knew kiddush quite well. Someone else tried--same problem. We tried to find a siddur (there are many in the house) from which to say kiddush, but kiddush had disappeared from all of the siddurim. I said, "This is ridiculous, I know Friday night kiddush by heart. I'll just say it from memory!" I started, but when I got to the part where the words stopped on the torn kiddush sheet, I could not, for the life of me, remember the rest. It was utterly gone from my memory.

Then I woke up.

It was really sad and somewhat freaky.

Maybe the dream was reminding me that when someone dies, we lose things that seem like they should be right on the tip of our tongues or sitting in full sight on our bookcases, but they've disappeared with the person.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me that he had a way of saying kiddush, a tune kind of like laining, that I never heard anywhere else and tried to remember shortly after he passed away, but couldn't. I've even searched online through MP3s, but haven't found anything like it. --MLG

ALG said...

I know. I really do miss that way he had of making kiddush. (Maybe that's what the dream was about.) I've been thinking that Uncle Boruch might know it and might be able to teach it to us. Imma or Aunt Nancy might be able to, too. They all heard it for many more years than we did.

alg's dad said...

Bapa lained the first part of the kiddush (va-yehi erev...) with his regular torah trop, and then used faux torah trop to do the rest of it. At least that's what Imma and I concluded. If you want to know exactly how how he lained, I can tell you, or Uncle Boruch can tell you, since Uncle Boruch and I both learned to lain from him.

HDS said...

At precisely which words of Kiddush did the sheet - and people's memories - end? Perhaps there is some meaning there?

ALG said...

Sorry, I don't know. I think it was about halfway through, but the dream definitely centered on the *feeling* of panic and loss about not being able to recite kiddush, and having lost the person who always said kiddush, and less on the specific words of kiddush. My dreams are often very specific, but not that specific.