Family! For my mother it was the supreme spiritual law, a sacred word and concept. She knew that our life on Earth hinges only on family. It is a very simple formula of human existence. Your kind. Your family. Everything else came from the devil.
My mother did not interfere in her children’s private life. She was wise, even though often calling herself “dumb.” She didn’t say “no”; she only grimaced unapprovingly when she met Leah’s fiancé and the same way, sometime later, when she met my future wife. She wrinkled her face with regret. Mom didn’t take a liking to her son-in law or daughter-in-law, but we made our choices and she accepted them.
There was a period when Leah fell in love and wanted to divorce her husband. She came to my parents to inform them of her decision, apparently in the hopes of getting their blessing. My mother listened to her and, touching her index finger to her lips, was quiet for a long time. Then she got up from her chair with difficulty (she already had bad legs then, which periodically swelled from chronic arthritis—in general walking was difficult—and with age she was prone to being overweight and suffered from shortness of breath because of it). Still, she got up, opened the door and quietly said that Leah should leave, right this second, and go home; it was eleven thirty and her husband and daughter are waiting for her there. She did not want to hear any explanations.
Leah sat for some time rocking left to right on her chair then called her husband to pick her up. Leah could not step over my mother’s “no.”
By the time I left my family, my mother already suffered from dementia and did not understand much of what was happening. She wore a special bracelet on her wrist in case she got lost. But sometimes she had sudden moments of clarity and a desire to act according to her character.
Once I came over and she suddenly asked at the door:
“Is it true that you left your family?”