“Is this the little girl I carried?” Last month Emmy experienced her first Jewish tradition, the baby naming. Now, many of you (gentile friends) must be thinking, “Isn’t her name already Emily Blair Brounes? What about that expensive monogrammed blanket we gave her?” Well, in the Jewish religion, it is customary to give a newborn a Hebrew name in addition to the English one. The name often serves to honor the memory of deceased relatives and gives the baby a connection to her family’s past. Therefore, on a day-by-day basis, she still will be known as Emily, Emmy, Baby Em, Pookie Bear (OK…just by Daddy), but on Jewish occasions like holidays, her Bat Mitzvah, Hebrew School (yes, you ARE going to Hebrew School, young lady), she will forever be called…Menucha Chaya.
In Hebrew, Menucha translates into “peaceful, tranquil, a child who will grant pleasure.” Chaya simply means “life” and symbolizes the new wonderful life we now share together. Emmy (rather Menucha Chaya) is named for two very special women who served as matriarchs of their respective families. Mae “Menucha” Sandman was her maternal great grandmother (Grandma Libby Hachenburg’s mom). Ida Sarah “Chaya” Garfinkel was Emmy’s paternal great grandmother (MamawHelen Brounes’ mother). Both women migrated at young ages to the United States from Eastern Europe. They believed strongly in their Jewish heritage and shared the rich traditions with their families and the generations that followed. At Emmy’s naming ceremony, she was passed from family member to family member, from generation to generation, as she participated in her first Jewish ritual and forged a strong tie to her past. (She came through the tradition quite well, though her Hebrew still needs a bit of work.)
To be clear, the “ch” is Hebrew does not sound like the traditional “ch” in English. It must come from deep down in one’s throat (or even the diaphragm) and often brings up a bit of phlegm in the process (at least, when it is pronounced correctly). Needless to say, Menucha Chaya does not just roll off the tongue. Barb’s late father Walter used to tell a story about his native German language. He said that even the most beautiful of creatures sound ugly when spoken in German. Butterfly, for example, is among God’s most lovely creations. The English word butterfly has a nice ring to it; in French it is known as papillon, another beautiful word. Yet, in German, it translates to schmetterling. Similarly, from a language standpoint, Hebrew words are not always music to the ears. So, while Menucha Chaya may be somewhat of a mouthful, please know that Emily is named for two very special women and we hope and pray she will follow in their footsteps and live up to the symbolism of those “beautiful” names she shares with them.
SWIFTLY FLOW THE DAYS
“When did she get to be a beauty?” Emmy is growing by leaps and bounds and seems bigger (and heavier) each time we get her up in the morning. (I even threw out my back last week, a common hardship of the “mature” father.) At her two month doctor’s appointment, she had attained the 70th percentile in height (length) and the 40th percentile in weight. Tall and thin…not a bad combination. (Perhaps, she has Supermodel in her future?) She sleeps well (through the night most of the time), eats like a trooper (can we start buying James Coney Island in those little baby jars?), and is rarely fussy (except when she is tired, hungry, wet, dirty, bored, or moody). She has become far more alert, coos at her mobile and stuffed animals, and even laughs out loud at my funny faces (though Barb claims she is laughing “at me” not “with me”).
She continues to be loved by all who meet her. While Mamaw (Brounes) and Aunt Tootie (Fradkin) still fight over holding her each time they are together, Uncle Steve (Fradkin) actually got the nod for the first nighttime baby-sitting duty. (That evening The Eyes of Texas became her favorite lullaby; it may be the only song Steve knows.) Her Pop (Brounes) has a room filled with photos depicting “the many faces of Emmy.” Cousins Lori and Leslie (Fradkin) both had instant attractions when they were visiting for Thanksgiving (pretty impressive that they could be so smitten over anyone who isn’t a 20-something boy). Grandma Libby (Hachenburg) spent so much time reading to Emmy during her visit that she may very well have the entire Dr. Seuss collection memorized. Aunts Candy and Becky (Hachenburg) gave their best Mamaw/Tootie impressions by fighting over holding, feeding, and dressing Emmy while they were in town. (I don’t recall them changing any diapers, however.) Uncle Mark (Hachenburg) walked around all weekend with a “burpie” ready to be called into action at the first sign of drool. Uncle Rich (Hachenburg) tried his best to convert Emmy into becoming a Miami Hurricane fan. (Pretty bad timing given their 6-6 record and berth in the MPC Computers Bowl Classic…Then again, it may be more impressive than the Alamo Bowl?).
“Sunrise, sunset…Swiftly fly the years” Unfortunately, at such a young age, Emmy has already experienced grief and sadness. Her brother Max (the cat) and sister Flo (the dog) both lasted just long enough to welcome their sister home from the hospital. Max had just celebrated his 18th birthday, when unfortunately his deteriorating hyperthyroid and kidney disorders limited his ability to control his bodily functions (and often at the most inopportune times and places …more information than you needed to know?). Flo was planning to celebrate her “sweet 16” when arthritis, vestibular balance syndrome, and perhaps a stroke made it virtually impossible for her to get up and walk around (and use the doggie door). Surely, she missed her dear friend Max who preceded Flo in death by a few weeks.
While these two traditional enemies spent much of their last year avoiding each other, they had actually grown somewhat attached over their last few months. Max once again enjoyed the run of the entire house and the two could often be seen snoozing in close proximity to each other. They dined together each night and begged for table scraps once they learned that the power of two voices was more effective than one. Max and Flo lived long wonderful lives and were the most loyal of companions to Barb and me at a time when we truly needed them. For 16 and 14 years respectively (before we found each other), Max and Flo were our roommates, our nightly dining companions, our confidants when we had good news to relay or a bad day to vent over. They shared our tastes in TV (and rarely grabbed for the remote) and kept us from being alone on Saturday nights when our other friends had plans. They truly served their purpose in life and lived up to the title of Man’s Best Friend. (I’ve learned that cats qualify for this title also.) They will be sorely missed.
While Emmy never had the chance to get to know them, she will forever hear tales of Max and Flo and the great joys they brought to Mommy and Daddy. (Plus, the stains in the carpet serve as another reminder.) She will see their photos throughout the house and one day will learn the joy of becoming a pet owner. (Surely she will want a dog, won’t she?) And so the circle of life continues. “One season following another. Laden with happiness and tears.”