Last week I went to Atlanta with my family to celebrate my younger son’s and my nephew’s first birthdays. My sister-in-law and I were due one day apart, the babies are 9 days apart, and many members of our large extended family (there are almost 100 members of the Hart family!) are what my sister affectionately calls “birthday buddies”. The party itself was wonderful: a beautiful day, lots of friends, cousins and little kids, two one-year-olds’ first sugar rush, and four generations of family!
I am incredibly lucky–and I can’t state that emphatically enough. I am 36 years old and still have three living grandparents. In fact, I had four until a couple of years ago (I am convinced that my Papa Joe waited until my older son was born before he died two weeks later). I honestly don’t know many adults that can say that they grew up knowing their grandparents, let alone with their grandparents playing significant roles in their lives. I am blessed to know kind, generous, caring, loving, and wonderful people with amazing genetics and strong marriages. I look forward to becoming a little old (mikveh) lady next to my little old husband.
My Poppie, my father’s father, is 96. He and my Nonnie (she is 88) have been married for almost 70 years. My Nana and Papa Joe were married almost as long. They were incredibly involved in our lives: they babysat so my parents could go on vacation, they came to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings; and now, some are still able to make the trek for a baby’s first birthday party.
My younger son, Eli Joseph, was named in honor of my Poppie (Ellis) and in memory of my Papa Joe. He will likely never really know these wonderful men he is named for. I try not to think about that, instead focusing on the fact that my grandfather, my father, myself, and my son(s) were all together in the same room, sharing a moment that will remain a precious memory.
Precious memories are made daily at Mayyim Hayyim—we sing with brand new Jews, rejoice with a bride or groom, hold the hand of someone in mourning, or provide a quiet space for someone seeking healing. I am incredibly lucky to be a part of that every day.
Leah Hart Tennen, Mikveh Center Director, is accepting applications for men and male-identified Mikveh Guides. Please visit our website for more information and to apply.