Did she like him? She, certainly, had better offers. Like that doctor, for example. But she would have never married the doctor, because she'd always feel inferior to him. And she could not abide that.
They painted and restored the train - and later - metro stations, other historical buildings and the public offices. They were supposed to use stencils to create the appearance that the patterns were sculpted on the walls and the ceilings. Eventually, my father began to just paint them freehand. The Moscow Synagogue, after they were done with it, became a jewel in hundreds of intricate patterns in blue and gold. In fifty years they had spent together, Rimka will rarely think of that or appreciate his talent. She felt, she could be an unchallenged leader of him and their family - a good enough reason to marry him.
She never mellowed out. Of course, she loved us from the bottom of her heart, but her father-in-law, for example, called her a gendarme for the arbitrary rules she imposed and the attacks of temper against the in-laws and her own family. Meyer tried to reason with her, but soon gave up and resolved to, as much as possible, stay out of her way.
They had two children, my sister and myself. To tell the truth, Meyer and Rimka needed each other. Meyer was easy going and he needed Rimka to push her family in the direction that they should go. She also learned to appreciate Meyer, because she was uncomfortable, even afraid to be alone, and he was the one constant in her life. She loved humor, worked day and night to make her home and children look good. We were some of the best dressed kids at school! Her life's ambition, it seems, was to make me an erudite and a cultured person. She encouraged me to read and learn about arts. The reading of, literally, hundreds of books (my mother got us a "World of Literature" subscription, and we received a weighty tome every month) backfired, though. From them I learned to be idealistic and to challenge the authority. She was the first authority I challenged!
|I am about 8 years old here, at grandma's|
How does this story end? My parents had more then half of a century to build up and tear each other down. Our family was able to move to the United States. The years when she helped raise her grandchildren were the happiest I've ever seen my mother!
|Mom with Hanah, her first|
In 2002 she became sick with cancer. It was as if the lifetime of hurt and resentment, finally, manifested itself in the physical form, destroying her body and undermining her spirit. The last year before she passed away she separated herself from everybody, like she was pushing us away before she was forced to lose everyone forever. Perhaps, that was the reason why she felt compelled one day to tell dad: "I should've left you when I was younger!"
How does this story end? Well, it doesn't. Rimka left her stamp on us for all eternity. There isn't a day when the memory of her love, hard work, deeds and misdeeds doesn't influence my own actions and decisions. Her fierce desire for validation and control are alive in me too, even though I try to keep tighter rule on my emotions. Fortunately, I also inherited some of my father's tolerance and forgiveness, and so my own children will tell different kinds of tales about me. Or will they?