Once Blessed, Blessed Forever
--by Rachel Naomi Remen, posted Aug 31, 2007
My grandfather did not drink his tea in the same way that the parents of my friends did either. He would put a cube of sugar between his teeth and then drink the hot tea straight from his glass. So would I. I much preferred drinking tea this way to the way I had to drink tea at home.
If it was Friday, after we had finished our tea my grandfather would set two candles on the table and light them. Then he would have a word with God in Hebrew. Sometimes he would speak out loud but often he would close his eyes and be quiet. I knew then that he was talking to God in his heart. I would sit and wait patiently because the best part of the week was coming.
When Grandpa finished talking to God, he would turn to me and say "Come, Neshume-le." Then I would stand in front of him and he would rest his hands lightly on the top of my head. He would begin by thanking God for me and for making him my grandpa. He would specifically mention my struggles during that week and tell God something about me that was true. Each week I would wait to find out what that was. If I had made mistakes during the week he would mention my honesty in telling the truth. If I had failed he would appreciate how hard I had tried. If I had slept for even a short nap without my night-light he would celebrate my bravery in sleeping in the dark. Then he would give me his blessing and ask the long-ago women I knew from his many stories, Sarah, Rachel, Rebekah and Leah to watch over me.
These few moments were the only time in my week that I felt completely safe and at rest. My family of physicians and health professionals were always struggling to learn more and to be more. It seemed there was always more to know. It was never enough. If I brought home a 98 on a test, my father would ask "And what happened to the other two points?" I pursued those two points relentlessly throughout my childhood. But my grandfather did not care about such things. For him, I was already enough. And somehow when I was with him I knew with absolute certainty that this was so.
My grandfather died when I was seven years old. I had never lived in a world without him in it before and it was hard for me. He had looked at me as no one else had and called me by a special name, "Neshume-le," which means "little beloved soul." There was no one left to call me this anymore. At first I was afraid that without him to see me, and tell God who I was, I might disappear. But slowly over time I came to understand that in some mysterious way, I had learned to see myself through his eyes. And that once blessed, we are blessed forever.
brought tears to my eyes:)