A Passover prayer from years past

With all my current enforced stay-home time, I’ve taken on the gigantic, long put-off task of going through collections of “sometime” things — all on paper, all in a bulging accordion file marked “I will want to write about all of these someday.” Well — the first “someday” has finally arrived, although more than a bit too late for pre-Pesach, which is where you should really have been reading this. But I don’t want to wait a whole year to share it with you; it’s life message is too important for now. And who knows what may keep any of us next year from taking on the tasks dear Ruth Ann describes below, and carrying everything to beautiful fruition, as she did for so many years? The following was written when her three daughters were in elementary school:
“To all my family and friends: Let not the line at the market be too long. Let the produce be fresh and crisp, and let there be just one more jar of Kosher for Passover mayonnaise left; otherwise, tuna falls off matzo sandwiches so easily.
“God, please let everyone be well for the two Seder nights — and could you make that for the rest of the year, too? Because if you don’t make me spend so many hours swabbing chickenpox with Calamine Lotion, I promise I will devote them to ecology and many Jewish causes.
“Almighty God, let the children behave at the Seder table, for I have labored long to make everything lovely. Suffer not their little fingers to spill wine on the tablecloth and carpet — it never seems to come out. And let them pipe the ‘Mah Nishtanah’ and the ‘Chad Gadya’ in such abundant glee and wisdom as to make the carpool to Hebrew school worth it.
“Ruler of the Universe, it seems I will never get all these dishes changed and everyone’s clothes ready, and all the chametz out of the house in time. So remember, Dear Lord, to please make sure the cleaning woman shows up.
“Creator of the World, let each year make our table fuller, not only with Your bounty, but with people: all our dear ones, adored friends, new babies, young lovers shyly brought home for approval. And let next year see our Seder overflowing with long-lost Jews who now crouch in fear in countries other than ours.
“And most important of all: God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel and Leah — Let me not, in the rush and hustle of preparation, forget what Passover really means.”
This was written some years before my son married the oldest of the three daughters of this remarkable woman, whose lifetime career was teaching reading to first graders in a Hebrew day school, where her curricula, left on retirement as her legacy, are still used by that same school’s teachers today. Every day — but even more so on Pesach, I bless our God, who let this incredible woman live long enough to see her other two daughters marry, and to welcome into our joint families seven grandchildren and (so far) two great-grandsons.
Passover was incredibly different for all of us this year, full of fear of the virus that has brought with it so much sickness and death, and mandated isolation that prevented so much of what we are usually doing before — and for — Passover, anticipating its arrival, and enjoying when it finally comes. But at least we did have our virtual Seders — an accommodation to a reality that my machitanista could never have imagined. She was not as privileged as I, who got to look in on one this year, arranged by one of our joint granddaughters: everyone from Pennsylvania, California and Utah, all together and the great-grands with headphones and big grins. She would have loved it! And my special privilege was adding Texas to the mix, and loving it all myself. Let’s see what next year will bring…

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