It’s daylight saving and mum and I are sitting outside. Mum’s dinner has just been served and we’re fighting over the food. I’m trying to encourage her to eat a tiny piece of chicken, but she pushes the fork back at me.
I can’t, she implores, You eat it.
I put my strict voice on: You have to eat, you’re not eating enough. This frustrating game goes on for awhile. I try again.
She shakes her head and her arm at me. YOU eat!
I give up and eventually finish her dinner. I am hungry and it’s delicious - sweet and sour chicken with brown rice. Mum watches me happily.
Thank G-d, To Your Health! she proclaims. She is so happy that I have eaten. Always so giving and generous, even now at 99 years old. I feel guilty that I gobbled up her food, but, either way, it would have been chucked in the bin.
Suddenly I have a flashback to one of mum’s stories from the ghetto when she was just a teenager, sharing a room with her own mother, eighty years earlier. Of course the circumstances are completely different, but today I felt a hint of that frustration mum must have felt with her own mother then, in the ghetto.
An excerpt from Marysia’s book, My Mother’s Ring:
"In the ghetto I used to cook for the two of us. I used to boil a potato in a pot of water then pour it into two metal bowls. ‘Mummy, take which one you like.’ If I closed my eyes for just a second, she'd slip her potato into my soup. I knew she was nearly starving and I would scream at her and bang my head against the wall because I was so discouraged and unhappy."
The gobbled up dinner