Thursday, June 11, 2009

Better know an Abandoning Eden/shocking grandmother phone call

The blogger Da'as Hedyot has just posted an interview with me for his "Better know a Kofer" [Heretic] series. If you've been reading my blog for a while you've heard pretty much everything in there, but it's a pretty good summary of a lot of the stuff I've discussed here.

Meanwhile, just now, in the middle of writing this post that was supposed to be charedi (ultra orthodox) grandmother called! The living one obviously...but she hasn't called me in about 4 years. So she asked how I was, and I told her I was married, that my husband isn't Jewish, and she asked all about B and his family and his job and stuff. And asked about the wedding, who married us, what religion B's parents are, what religion he is, if B's parents like me, if I live by any code or religion (I told her that I'm an atheist, but that I have morals too..). And if I was happy.

And she was shockingly nice! She even said stuff about how she is glad I'm happy and she wishes me well! Shockingly because...well, this grandmother used to get in my face and grab my ears and inspect them for new piercings every time I saw her when I was in my early 20s and getting lots of ear piercings (well, I only have 3 in each ear, but that's a lot to her), and she was one of the few people in my family (other than my parents) who openly argued about my religiosity level with me, and tried to convince me I should be more religious. Not really using any logical arguments, just basically yelling at me that I should be more religious. The last time I talked to her on the phone was in 2005 when she started yelling at me about my eyebrow ring and how no Jewish man will every marry me, and how all my education doesn't count for anything if I'm not religious, etc (I only had that eyebrow ring for about 6 months...ended up taking it out because it never healed right and got infected). Anyways, after that I pretty much stopped talking to her except at family reunions. And she kept her distance as well. But now she calls, wishes me well, and even said she wants me to call her more often so we can talk more! And she was saying stuff about how once your kids grow up you can't control them anymore and they have to make their own decisions!

I am shocked! SHOCKED! She told me my mom visited her yesterday (when I was telling her how my mom isn't talking to me anymore), so I think my mom must have told her I had gotten married, even though she acted surprised when I told her. She also mentioned something about how our kids are going to be Jewish either the cynical part of me thinks this is some sort of ploy to re-start a relationship with me so that she can have some influence over my future kid's religion, now that my family has given up on stopping me from marrying B..since we're already married and all.

But the non-cynical part of me is all "YAY! Even though my mom is no longer talking to me, some members of my family still call and want to have a relationship with me! Even though this specific person was mean and manipulative in the past and suddenly seems to have undergone a complete personality transplant!"

Um, wait...


  1. I'd say just go for the good in this one.

  2. I wish I could say 'go for the good' as well, but no -

    "Even though this specific person was mean and manipulative in the past and suddenly seems to have undergone a complete personality transplant!"

    By the time a woman is old enough to become a grandmother to a twenty-something, that person's personality is completely formed and there are no such things as personality transplants. She wants something - I don't know what it is. Maybe she thinks your parents (which one is her child - your mother or father?) have totally blown the way they've tried to get you to be more religious, not marry B, etc, and now it's her turn - stand back and watch how it's done: the Master Grandmother will now get this wayward child back on the right track!

    I hope I'm wrong. I hope Ms. Moon is right.

  3. Yeah, my mom is her daughter- and it is completely in keeping with her personality that she would do something like you describe, the eyebrow ring phone call incident was totally a similar type of deal- she thought my parents weren't doing enough to stop me so she stepped in. In fact during that conversation she started talking about how my mom failed as a parent and that's why I have an eyebrow ring, at which point I think I told her to shut up about my mom, which is why we didn't talk for years after that.

    Ms Moon- I hope you are right, but I have been burned by her so many times in the past that I cautious about the prospect of starting up a relationship with her again. OTOH, it may be that as she is getting older she has decided to take less of a hard line on things. I guess this is one of those things I'll have to wait and see...kinda like everything else in my life :)

  4. I do think that as people get old they can get mellower. I think they know they don't have much time left and also don't have the energy to fight. Both my parents have/do show that tendency (my Mom is 77 and my fater died in 2002 aged 86).

    How old is she?

  5. It is interesting, you can never tell how people who are older and have seen the world will react. Checkout this lovely heart-warming story as related by Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan's wife.

  6. The optimist in me is hopeful that she is just realizing, with age, that this is it. You are who you are and if she wants a relationship with you she needs to accept that.

    I'd advise you to proceed cautiously. Be friendly toward her but keep your eyes wide open.

    Good luck with her, and even though it might be a pathetic ploy with a religious objective, I am glad you had a positive connection with her (even if just for that phone call.)

  7. Maybe she feels your mom jumped the shark by abandoning you (hence the you can't control your kids comment). Of course, if you maintain a relationship w/her, you should expect a certain amount of well-intentioned kiruv, but just like when people say "Jesus loves you," or "God bless you," when you sneeze sometimes you can just smile, realize that whatever they're saying is coming from a kind place in their heart and that they mean well, even if their definition of well is the opposite of yours, and get on with your life. A pendulum swings one way, then the other, but it winds up in the middle. You and B can choose what the middle is for any family you create beyond the two of you.

    See you soon!

  8. Yes, older people mellow, and they also tend to say what they really think because, hey, they're 85 or whatever and who cares what other people think about them.

    This is a generalization, obviously.

    So it's possible that in her old age she cares about your happiness. And unless she's a young grandma, which I guess she may be, how many years would she have left to have much influence over your children, even if you would let her?

  9. Maybe. She is in her early 80s (I'm not exactly sure about what her age is).

    I talked to my brother about it, and apparently my mom has mentioned that my grandmother has been "talking weird" lately same kind of stuff, and not in keeping with her personality.

    We have two possible theories:

    1) my great aunt died about a month ago, in her sleep, with no warning. She was 70 (so at least 10 years younger than my grandmother). She was also my grandmother's sister in law, and they were pretty close. So it may be that her death is what prompted this

    2) My grandmother was diagnosed with something life-threatening, but hasn't told anyone yet.

  10. oh and my grandmother has always said what was on her mind, that's why we didn't get along :)

  11. Alzheimers? Lots of old people start losing their minds. The bitchy old ladies forget why they were bitchy and turn into really nice people! The nice ones... ... ... get depressed and bitchy. Lol, you don't have to forgive her for the things she's said or put you through, but it would be very Christian to.

  12. listen to grandma, accept her weaknesses and stay open minded about life.
    People grow and change and reexamine and even reconnect to idea they rejected as kids and you will too. im not only talking about judaism. don't burn bridges with family and ideas at 30 that you might need and want at 40. that would make you as much of a close minded fundie as those you hate.

    calmness leads to truth.



  13. Even if she is engaging in some kind of Kiruv, who cares? If the ideas of judaism are attractive or can be presented in a way you or your family can take seriously, you will, and if not, you won't.


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