This just in: Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
I just want to post a few words today about my Grandma Rose, who passed away on September 30, 1984. I was fifteen at the time, and her death marked my first experience of losing someone close to me.
Grandma Rose was my mother’s mother. She was born in Eastern Europe (she liked to say she was born in Vienna, but genealogical research–some by me and some by one of my mother’s cousins–suggests a Polish village is more likely). She came to this country as a seven-year-old who spoke no English and hadn’t seen her father in six years. She was the oldest of five sisters who survived to adulthood (another baby girl died at 13 months, and another was stillborn). She was a divorced mother raising two children at a time when that still raised eyebrows. She faced plenty of struggles in her life, yet took great joy in her family, her opera records, her Jewish heritage, and her painting. And she was an early and devoted fan of my writing (especially one story I wrote in fifth grade about the Mona Lisa).
If she were here today she’d be 94 (probably still looking far younger than she really was), and great-grandmother to nine beautiful children, ages 6 months to 7 years. I see bits of her in all of them.
This evening and tomorrow I will be celebrating (though “celebrating” doesn’t quite seem to capture the mood of what’s a very somber holiday) Yom Kippur. Especially for those practicing writers who may also be observing it, I recommend this lovely essay by Rachel Kadish.
See you back here on Monday.
After work yesterday I went over to babysit for/spend some time with my niece (age 4) and nephew (age 1). (Happily, they live about five minutes from my office, and I can do this fairly often.)
Once the baby fell asleep, and my niece was bathed and fed, she and I settled down to watch a little more TV than usual, a little later than usual. Thus we were introduced to the “Wishbone” series on PBS. Now, I consider myself a major influence on my niece’s library (and on her very gratifying interest in stories and poems). But even I was stunned, and then stuttering, as I tried to explain the narrative of A Tale of Two Cities–recast with a talking dog facing execution at the guillotine–to someone who hasn’t yet started kindergarten.
Apparently “Wishbone” was pretty popular in the mid-late 1990s (when I had no real reason to be watching children’s television). I can’t help thinking that creative as it may be, it just doesn’t compare to a PBS favorite from my childhood, which introduced me to work by Charles Dickens: “Once Upon a Classic.” Any fellow fans of that wonderful show out there?
Sorry, folks. I’m fighting a fever, sore throat, sore ears, and headache. Taking the day off from work (and from the blog) and trying to get to the doctor. Hope to be back with something more interesting (and useful to you) tomorrow.
Grace Paley has passed away.