Friday Crank, and a Letter To Asher On His First Birthday

My boyfriend of long ago used to make the noise of a crank when I got like this. “Crrrrrrrrank,” he would say, and make a turning motion with his hand. It never failed to make me laugh.

Look, I’m Russian by way of my dad’s mom. Melancholia and crankiness is my genetic inheritance. I don’t know that Romanian Jews and Slovak Christians are known to be much sunnier. And that’s all I got by the lottery.

Speaking of which, my parents were married fifty years ago today in the Unitarian Church of Binghamton, New York. He was Jewish, she was Russian Orthodox. My mom’s priest said, “Not in this church, Shirley,” and so they went to the Unitarian minister (my dad had been attending services there for awhile, so they knew the place). So you can blame that occasion for me, if you feel so inclined.

I’ve had a low-grade achiness at night for a couple of weeks now and I’m convinced that it’s something dire like lupus or bone cancer. I got really sick last night with actual barfing levels of nausea so now I know it’s just something like a virus. Or quite possibly a 9/11 psychic body attack thing that comes from being sad and angry and haunted and totally distraught about the state this country is in, and DON’T try to talk me out of that. I listened to my president talk about his plans to do this and that the other night and I had zero confidence in him, or in any other person, to get anything accomplished by means of Congress. Zero. Negative confidence. In fact, I scoffed aloud in my car. It was a sad scoff; somewhere between a snort and a sob.

So many ministers I know are burned out, and I mean bad. I’m not burned out at all. If anything I’m a little too hyper. I just wish the Cleaning and Organizing Fairy would pay me a visit because the clutter in my office is bumming me out. My lovely little study that was all tidy SO RECENTLY.

I have weddings, memorial services and baby blessings lined up for September, October and November. Thank you God, and I really mean that. There is nothing else that so deeply anchors a pastor to her community as these rites of passage, and I’m grateful to be doing these. Oh, the tenderness of the human condition. Oh, the honor of being the sucker who gets to try to put some of it into words. Nice work if you can get it, and I’ve got it.

Dearest Asher, who turns one year old on Tuesday.

Sweet darling sunny boy, I was supposed to be hanging with you and mom today in Portland, but I just feel too lousy in the tum and so I’m home with your Buncle Max taking it easy. I’m so sorry not to squeeze you, because first of all I am longing to smell your baby head smell, and second because you had that terrible croup last week and were in the hospital and I want to hug you and snuggle you and feel that you’re fine for myself.

A year ago, little boy, your mama and I were walking out of Soakology Spa where we had our feet rubbed and your mother took a flying tumble out of her sandal and fell flat on her face on the sidewalk. Well, she ALMOST fell flat on her face. As I watched, horrified, she caught herself and went into a magnificent tumble that we now refer to as the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Maneuver, rolled over, and sprang to her feet. You were protected. That’s who your mom is, Ash. She’s got amazing instincts and reflexes.  Always trust her on those.

We were still a little worried about your being okay so we went to the hospital to one of the birthing rooms where they hooked up mom to some fancy machines and we waited through the night to make sure you hadn’t gotten squished in her fall. We knew you hadn’t, but we wanted to make sure. And sure enough, you were fine and put your mother through living hell during a 72-hour labor as you made your way into this world. Your mother isn’t Jewish, darling, but I am, and I will not hesitate to work that 72-hour labor into our conversation any time you are thinking of giving your dear madre any grief.  CALL YOUR MOTHER, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH SHE SUFFERED GIVING YOU LIFE? Get used to hearing this, Asher. You’re going to be hearing it from me.

From what I can see, you’ve had a pretty terrific and exciting first year. You have more friends than anyone I know. Any kid with that many ministers in his corner has got to have a blessed life, and certainly more emotional support than any one human ought to need in one lifetime. Plus, Asher, you have the military behind you, what more could you need? The Holy Spirit and Uncle Sam! That’s power, baby.

Asher Smasher Party Crasher. You’re almost up and walking, you’ve made more trips to more places already than most people have made in their lifetime, and you’re a charming and adaptable little person with a wonderful disposition. You’re super good-looking, and that doesn’t hurt in this world, my darling. You love musical theatre and you’re interested in architecture and you cook a mean paella. Oh, wait, that’s just me projecting my own hopes about who you’ll be onto you, and that’s not fair. As your godmom, it’s my job to make sure you have our support to become who you were uniquely meant to be, and to grow into that person with gratitude, reverence and a sense of responsibility and compassion for this world and for your fellow sojourners on this planet (and who knows, maybe on others?).

We’re so very glad you were borned, Asher.

Love, Godmom

One Reply to “Friday Crank, and a Letter To Asher On His First Birthday”

  1. You’re the best Godmom E-V-A-H! Thank you for this wonderfully thoughtful expression, reflection, and observance. I continue to collect all your writings to our beloved boy and imagine the day I print them out, bind them into a nice book, and stuff it away in his belongings as he goes off to college… They are to be cherished. Just as I cherish you, our friendship, & your Godmomship. 🙂

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