The French Grandmother’s Funeral

The French Grandmother’s Funeral

This morning, I attended the funeral of my neighbor’s elderly mother, whose body was flown in from France. All the eulogies were in French, which meant that for an hour or so I stood there, understanding only the smattering of French words I still remember from junior-high-school and the few Hebrew words thrown in from time to time.

Here’s what I understood…

Despite the difficulty involved, the deceased woman’s father would travel 200 kilometers across Algeria to bring home kosher meat to his family.

Oh, how she loved to sing! Jewish songs.

She was a woman of remarkable faith, committed with passion to the Jewish people, to Israel, to the Torah.

But that’s all I understood from the words. So I spent the rest of the time just looking at her, lying so small underneath that sheet…

And I imagined…and this is what I understood…

Her life. The life of a devout Jewish mother and grandmother.

I imagined her rushing around getting the meat and rice and soup and chamin ready in her kitchen on Friday afternoons.

I imagined her spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with homemade Algerian cakes and cookies which left their fingers shiny with oil and sticky with honey.

I imagined her anxiously following the news in Israel, concerned for her daughter and her grandchildren here, and all of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.

I imagined her praying for her family in her local synagogue on Yom Kippur–praying for health and prosperity and only good news in the coming year. Singing along during Neila in a tremulous undertone, a hopeful smile on her lips, two tears sliding down her cheeks.

As the eulogies came to a close, I looked over at her 2 children–a daughter, my neighbor, and a son. And their children, her grandchildren. Crying.

And from their tears, this is what I understood–a lifetime of a mother’s love and dedication returned home–from their hearts, back, to hers.

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email