Mom has a very mysterious personal history. I know only very little. As far as I know, she was officially Catholic before I was born. Everything points to her being born and raised Jewish. And even as I conjecture that to be the case, recent condemnations of her from someone are ringing in my ears. That person has enlisted the help of others through the years and right throughout the country to attack my understanding that she is Jewish.
I’d like to present a rather nostalgic series on mom, highlighting this or that indication of her Jewishness. I’m told that I will fail before I even begin, that nothing can be proven, that it is all futile, that I am foolish, that it doesn’t make any difference anyway (for one), that this needs to involve eugenics (for another), that this must mean that mom is… (and this is where violent condemnations come into play for yet another).
This is a quest, of course, for my own family identity, something I cherish. I invite you to come along for the ride in the detective work.
Let’s start with that which is mundane, white stoneware with two blue stripes. That was mom. There were a number of occasions through the years that she ever so nostalgically, reflectively, thoughtfully mentioned to me that this style was her favorite style of stoneware, going out of her way to – out of the blue – bring my attention to this or that artistic piece, as if she wanted to say more, and using these as a conversation starter. It had to be roughly white. Heavy. Solid. With two blue stripes, two mind you. It didn’t go without notice. I remember occasions when she did this, in the living room / dining room / office of the house I grew up in after we moved from when I was one year old until I was twelve years old. The same stoneware followed in a move outside of town, and then again with another move into a suburb just before both mom and dad died.
When I was older and knew something of the world, I mentioned to her that the double blue stripe on white on rough and heavy stoneware reminded me of the Israeli flag. That immediately put her into a gentle, quiet, reflective mode and, though agreeing, she didn’t expand on this, being ever so subtly evasive. I knew there was more to the story. Once she almost told me something, taking me from the stoneware in one room over to a hand painted portrait of her mom in another room. But then she fumbled for words, looking wistfully at the portrait in its antiqued frame. Yes, thought I, there’s more to this story.