Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn

Volume 6

(other than This Lawn Looks Like Crap)


Interesting, if not deep, thoughts often pop into my head while I’m doing battle with my lawn. And yes, I do battle with a non-gas, non-electric, old-fashioned push mower. An actual reel mower. And my mind tends to think of some semi-interesting crap while I push along.

Crap I Think Of pic


Welcome to Volume 6 of Crap I Think of While Mowing the Lawn.




I was thinking about what I was thinking about, and feeling, on Friday night. I attended a Friday night (Shabbat) service at my synagogue – this time solo, as my wife Ruby was tied up, and I couldn’t persuade my son Benny to accompany me.  He had a good excuse:  I think that Cartoon Network was re-running some of his favorite Regular Show episodes. May I digress? It’s not a bad show.

Regarding the service, mostly I was feeling wistful. A lot of wistful and wishful thinking. Let me explain.

In the service, a couple who are still very active in the congregation was honored for celebrating their 50th anniversary. While they didn’t formally renew their vows, a chuppah (wedding canopy) was set up. The husband shared a funny and touching story of how they met. Great, beautiful stuff, and no wistfulness, even if it will take a lot of great fortune for Ruby and me to make it to our 50th.

Under the chuppah, came other honorees. The biggest benefactors of the synagogue were honored. It would be nice to be able to be in a financial position to give more, but I wasn’t feeling any wistfulness yet. The synagogue’s officers and executive board (volunteers, all) were recognized as were the congregation’s two rabbis: the outgoing, senior rabbi and the young assistant rabbi who has already impressed us, and endeared herself to all of us. Yes, with a straight face, I can tell the world that I really like and respect both rabbis. That’s rare, and all good.

A little later, I took hold of a casual, candid scene that played itself out in plain view – halfway between my seat (on the side, stage left, from a bit of a distance) and the podium. Twin brothers, perhaps 13 years old…I had one of the twins in my religious school class as a fifth grader…were sitting with their grandparents, right behind their parents. At a couple different points, I saw them with their arms around each other – not quite a group hug, but it was the closest thing to it that they could manage from their seats. They did nothing to call attention to themselves, but it was in easy view. It was nice, and…cue the wistfulness.

My first thoughts went to my cartoon-watching, almost-six-year-old son, Benny. I was missing him at the moment, but also feeling bad about what he was missing. None of his grandparents are living, and he never got to even meet my mom or  Ruby’s dad. He was only two-and-a-half when my dad passed, so as the years go by, I’m not sure what, if anything, he’ll remember. As for his grandmom (who he called Waipaw), I think that he will carry some very positive memories of her, but only memories. No more in-person hugs or kisses.

I was very much missing my own parents, and the moment had me thinking a little bit about my relationship with my grandparents. Of the four, I mostly knew my mom’s mom and my dad’s dad – Nona, and Grandpa, respectively. But, our family lived a long distance from all of our relatives, so we never became too close with any of them. Yes, it was more special when we did get together, but we may have seen my mom’s family (all were in Indianapolis) every summer and perhaps a couple of them at a Bar Mitzvah or two. We saw my dad’s family even less frequently, perhaps every other summer and only until I (the youngest of three brothers) turned about 14. They all lived in or around St. Paul, Minnesota.

The world was a much bigger place back then, and the 700 or so miles to Indy and 1,000-plus miles to Minny were long miles that had to be driven. Yes, there was no internet, and none of us were pen pals. And yes, the phone was around, but long-distance calls seemed to only be made on birthdays or when someone was ill. Or, when condolences were being offered.

So, what’s the point of all this wistfulness? I don’t have an answer, but think that it’s okay to give into moments of wistfulness, as long as they don’t lead to longer moments of paralyzing regret. Yes, I fervently wish that my parents were still here, and that Benny has grandparents to hug…and for that matter, a brother or sister. But barring anything miraculous or unplanned and unforeseen, no amount of wishful or wistful thinking will change this.

The best that all of us can do is to keep their memories alive, while always being there with one another to create a ton of positive experiences and memories together.

And is it inconceivable to dream that one day, Benny will be sitting with his own children (yes, Goldbergs sometimes have long generations, but…) watching with tearful pride as his mom and dad are honored on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary? Is it?

This is my selfish and selfless wish at the moment.

May I have an “amen?”


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