Earlier this week would’ve been my Baba Irene’s 94th birthday. I know this because her birthday was one of those family birthdays you always remember. I always called. And also, I got one of those creepy Facebook, “do you want to send Irene a birthday message?” reminders.
Truth be told, I didn’t need her birthday to bring her to the fore of my mind. She has been on it A LOT lately! It’s happened with more regularity than normal and without much rhyme or reason. Mostly it has manifested in a desire to regale her with some tale about life or check in to see what’s going on in her life.
I couldn’t quite pinpoint exactly why this was happening more recently until I had a sudden realization. My Grandmother, for those who didn’t know her was a paragon of faith. Better in this case though to use the Hebrew word אמונה (eh-moo-nah).
Etymologically connected to the word “amen,” faith is something you either have or don’t have, whereas emunah is a spectrum of the lived human experience. Some people have a little, others have a lot, and most of us are somewhere in the middle. One can gain and fortify their emunah.
My Grandmother, for all of the struggles she had in her life was a person of great emunah. In almost any situation, she had this unbridled belief that it would be ok, or that there was some way to look at it positively. You can imagine how this could be annoying on a call where you’d just want her to listen. But steadfast she was in her emunah.
I am an emunah waverer, truth be told. Lately though, I have been registering quite low on the spectrum. My sense of faith in others, the natural world, and certainly myself has been plummeting. Can you blame me? Things have been tough, uh, for a minute now.
So, I am craving my grandmother’s emunah almost as much as I am craving her presence in my life. I want just one call where I can be bolstered by her spirit. I want to get off the phone after she’s rambled on for 30 minutes about the latest in her synagogue’s politics, riding the wave of her passion. I would LOVE to hear her call me Adireleh once more.
Unfortunately, her physical presence left us two and a half years ago. Fortunately though, her legacy remains strong and unwavering. Her great grandchildren, who called her Bebe still speak of her glowingly. Her children discuss her often, wondering how she might’ve fared during this pandemic. Her grandchildren, many of whom spent the formative parts of early childhood with her, carry much of her love and adoration for children in their own parenting. Me? Right now, I am channeling her spirit of emunah. At a time in which it’s just not there for me, I am counting on yours to carry me through.
יהי זכרה ברוך–May the memory of Irene Belsky be for a blessing.