With his familial warmth my brother, sitting at the closed end of the table, held forth. On his left elbow Friday night, in the only seat not requiring a place card, was Aunt Helen. Bill James had it as her 195th Seder, (recalling with her how she’d been suspended from a second Seder years back). Me? I sat at the other end—the open end. It was away from the heavy-hitters—almost another zipcode in fact—but a better seat. On my elbow, cradled as a bundle of bliss, was Lucy.  Unfazed, 760 Passover nights behind her great, great aunt, she watched the show.

You’re not missing anything if you’ve never been to a Bogart Seder, (unless of course, you have a sense of humor). We sing in Hebrew, read in English and revere our heritage. Still, as much as anything else, we laugh.

I love this holiday; I specifically love the meals. In a common foxhole, Jews congregate, recalling, remembering what Pharoah did to us.

“Seder” means “order”. In proscribed fashion we run through liturgy honoring old traditions, creating new ones….and speak to the past.

Each family, of course, has its own NONSENSE: matters funny only to that clan—doings that would not and could not be appreciated any place other than under that one roof. Upgrading this narishkeit, we dub it tradition. This gives it street cred.

The Haggadah, for example, notes ten plagues. Twice yearly our people dip pinkies in wine, methodically reciting “Dom, blood…Tsfardayah, frogs…” Our cutting edge family has eleven.  While globally members of the tribe build poignantly to that tenth affliction, (killing of the first born), Bogarts keep dipping. “Itzy,” we chant, “…Ed….”,  paying homage to our mother’s errant spouse.

I laugh. H laughs. Even Helen smiles. (If our mother had married only twice, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!) “Dayeinu”, we say.

Not all new wrinkles find ready acceptance. Hal’s handout this year—the lyrics to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”—met with mixed results. Yes, nearly twenty sang along, but yes too…it sounded like a dirge. My sense is he’ll speed up the audio next spring, in a make-or-break year.

A tired Lucy left mid-Seder, (actually, right after that song). By morning she was fresh. On a sunny northeast Ohio day (that’s why people move here!), two parents, two grandpas and a baby brunched in the ambience of Sara’s Place.
As our infant slept soundly, we spoke of health, of baby naming…and of the present. Lucy, to the side of our four-top, was at my elbow.

Then came Sunday.

They were leaving town, so I stopped to see her. The baby.

She was upstairs in her grandma’s crib. Sleeping.

I had never been upstairs at the ex’s house. Not in all those years. It wasn’t, frankly, on my Bucket List.

“May I go up?” I asked Stacy, (sensing a Yes).
“Of course.”
“Come with me.”

My Little One led me quietly to her little one. “Don’t wake her,” she urged, (like I was some idiot that would stick his head in and a la Jerry Lewis shriek “HEY LADYYYYYYYYYYYY” !

And then she left us alone and I was quiet, only softer. So not to disturb.
This child sleeping at my elbow? I had her back.

For ten minutes I stood there, staring at the crib—at the bundle. They don’t wrap’em like they used to, I thought. What if she got cold? (I wondered). Shouldn’t there be more cover?

We’ve all been there. Watching them—squinting hard…until we’re sure we see the chest expand, contract—until we see them breathe…

So we can breathe.
And smile.
And think of their futures.

One Response to “FORTY EIGHT HOURS”

  1. Jackie says:

    I want a baby, too…

Leave a Reply