A family favorite story, a truth told by my large family’s major storyteller and keeper of memories — me! This one is continually re-inspired when I light one of my all-too-frequent yahrzeit candles:
Aunt Luba was what some might call “cheap”: I would rather identify her as “frugal.” If something had usefulness, she would keep it — forever, if necessary. One morning, her friend Liz arrived, suggesting an outing: She needed to buy some ordinary drinking glasses for household use — nothing fancy or pricey. Would Luba want to come with her? They would walk — a good distance, because neither of them drove. Walking was their best and favorite exercise, and so off they went…
The nearest major shopping area wasn’t close, but walking was never a reason not to go somewhere. After a half-hour or so, they reached their favorite marketplace. But after combing all its stores, they had found no suitable (meaning both sturdy and inexpensive) glasses anywhere. However, they decided that while they were out and about, they should certainly have their midday meal at a preferred five-and-dime lunch counter.
And so, after eating and relaxing and chatting for a while over more than one cup of coffee, they walked back to Luba’s, who then told Liz to stick around for a while: She just might have some suitable glasses down in her cellar, where she stored all those many things waiting for the days on which they would all become useful. And today, one such “someday” had actually arrived! After Luba had descended the downward stairs, she rather rapidly emerged again at ground level, bearing a box of glasses — of a kind we don’t see anymore. That’s because today we light yahrzeit candles that burn down and out, and we toss away the remains in their little can-like holders. But in those “olden days,” yahrzeit candles were sold in glasses designed for possible — although probably most highly improbable — kitchen table reuse. Luba had never used even one as such, so she had MANY of them stashed away, and when Liz left, she had received to take with her — at no monetary expense — a good supply of drinking glasses she would gladly have paid for if there been any available for sale anywhere.
Well — the two women friends had walked, enjoying their good and favorite exercise, a long distance both coming and going, and Luba had “suddenly” remembered she had a stash of suitable kitchen glassware in her basement, and knew exactly where those glasses were. But she hadn’t told Liz that when Liz specified her aim for the day, because then there would have been no reason for the walk, no extended exercise with lots of time for talk during it, no reason for their light and inexpensive lunch at a favorite little eating place, no long and happy chatting time coming, going and in-between.
Some friendships are based on shared experiences, even some based on a bit of truth-shaving for the sake of the friendship itself. Had my Aunt Luba told her friend Liz when the latter rang her doorbell that morning that she had a ready stash of glasses in the cellar, just waiting for someone to need them, there would have been no walk, no talking that was happily engaged in during the walks both coming and going, and no lunch with the two perched together on stools at a friendly five -and-dime counter. I have no doubt that both of them knew all that in advance, including Aunt Luba being quite sure before leaving that the day’s walk was not really necessary!
Harriet Gross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org