A week before

-->my grandmother's birthday would be: Rivka bas Rochel.

I'm remembering the customs of our quirky family.

We might have taken her out to dinner. Or to a movie.

We certainly would have brought presents.

That's when we lived in Phildalphia, or right across the bridge in New Jersey. (She lived near the brigde.)

Then there were all those years I did not live in Philadelphia, when I used to hope I remembered to send a card that would get there in time. Or I would make a long-distance call, when that was costly, and a big deal on a student budget, and the call would be managed by a live operator, that ghostly nasal voice coming from the phone.

(I am suddenly remembering Lily Tomlin as The Operator: "Hello? Is the the party to whom I am speaking?")

My grandmother used to love plants. Not the inside kind; the outside kind. That meant that we could give those to her in late Spring for Mother's Day, when we could plant them. But not for her birthday.

She neither listened to music nor read books.

So a birthday gift usually involved some article of clothing or jewelry; or perhaps dinner out followed by a movie.

The choices she made in her life did not make her happy. I think we all knew that, and did our best, knowing it would never really be enough.

Soon it is her jahrzeit as well.

I will give some serious thought to what donation would have pleased her, if she were here today, and do it in her memory.

Good night.