Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A friend on Facebook pointed to an essay by David Brooks on the Yiddish concept haimish. Exactly!

I have always lived and tried to live on the "haimish" side of things. This means, of course, that things aren't as "nice" as they would be if we tried to live the suburban dream. The things that worry so many of our friends, relatives and neighbors, such as the lawn, just don't bother us that much. (Creeping Charlies does bother me, but I'm not willing to pour chemicals all over the place to take care of it).

But we sure have a great time when we gather at table (which is often). I think we are the only family I know in the world who at least three sit-down meals a day. Let me tell you, if you spend that much time at the table you don't have nearly as much time to keep up the fineries in the house, much less keep up with the Joneses.

We also tend to prefer books over just about any luxury or finery you could name.

I'm also afraid that our way of life may make those who live on the other side of the "haimish line" uncomfortable when they visit us. I'm sad about that and sometimes wish I could do better in the "finery" area, but I apparently don't wish that hard enough to do something much about about it. I'll eventually fix that door, I'm sure. I fixed two this summer. Sort of.

Maybe I should put a sign up that says, "Haim sweet haim."

Monday, August 29, 2011

The importance of a mother

At least five very influential men in the 20th century loss their mothers at an early age, having a profound effect on them.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's mother died when he was 12. He was subsequently raised by Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, in the shadow, so to speak, of the great Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman.
  • C.S. Lewis's mother died when he was 10. His unusual relationship with Mrs. Moore, the mother of a friend lost in WWI, perhaps can be partially attributed to his need for a mother.
  • Karol Wojtyla's mother died when he was eight. There is no doubt that this experience helped form Wojtyla's understanding of the importance of mothers not only in the natural life of men, but in our supernatural life, which, of course, is built upon our nature.
  • John Lennon's mother, Julia, died when he was 17.
  • Paul McCartney's mom, Mary, died when he was 14.
Paul and John's friendship owed something to the fact that they both had recently lost their mothers when they met. Both wrote songs about their mothers. John's "Julia" is said to be both about his mother and about Yoko Ono, whom he called "mother." McCartney wrote the very famous "Let It Be" about his mother, Mary. Whether there was an intentional reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I have know idea. McCartney said it is about his mom.