"I read a lot, today, about [leaving Egypt] and the laws given to Israel. I was struck by the emphasis on 'remembering' throughout the generations. We no longer take the time to remember - as Christians, as Americans, as humans. We are so obsessed with the present that we avoid the past and ignore the future. These things are for remembering..."
We have been reading The Devil's Arithmetic in class the past few weeks. A book about the Holocaust in which past, present, and future all collide. Hannah, a young Jewish girl, is transported from a present-day celebration of the Passover with her family to 1940s Poland. While preparing for and practicing the Passover, Hannah doesn't want to remember, she doesn't understand why they have to eat bitter herbs while her friends are eating jelly beans.
Several chapters later, after being loaded into trucks by German soldiers, about to be sick, the taste in Hannah's mouth reminds her of those herbs. "And those were for remembering..."
It isn't until she experiences her own bitter experiences in the camps that she can appreciate the past of her heritage and her family...it is in remembering the past that she appreciates the present.
It was with all of those thoughts running through my mind that I walked into my room and caught sight of my Grandmother's picture hanging above my bed...
...the woman I never really understood, and yet, the one I wish I would have had an opportunity to get to know better.
My Grandmother died of cancer just before my 13th birthday, so my memories of her are childish ones, full of things I didn't understand or appreciate until I was older...
I didn't understand why we only ever got a dollar bill in a card for our birthdays, or why our Christmas gifts were almost always something she had made herself....I didn't understand that the only money she had for these things was what she could save from the household expenses.
I didn't understand why we always had the same meal (which I hated) at their house...pan-fried chicken, lettuce with Miracle Whip and pepper, and corn she had canned herself...I didn't understand that was her favorite meal and the only time my Grandfather let her fix it was when they had company.
I didn't understand why my friends got to do cool things with their grandparents and I spent my time learning how to thread a needle, sew quilt pieces together (never quite got the hang of that), and follow a pattern...I didn't understand she was giving us part of herself.
I didn't understand why she would marry someone like my Grandfather, stay married to someone like my Grandfather...I didn't understand just how much she valued family and was willing to sacrifice for them.
I didn't understand, but these things are for remembering...