Okay, I did the one thing that, as a professional journalist, I swear never to do: I missed my deadline. Yep, my day to post on this blog is the first Tuesday of each month. I have almost never missed, but this week, I just can’t remember what day it is. And while for the average reader it is surely not a major issue, for me it represents just how disoriented I am these days. I’ve written about it before, but as the season is changing again, I am reminded of just how long we have all been dealing with the current pandemic. The light through my window is different, the air feels crisper and when I run the few errands I must these days, the décor is focused on Thanksgiving and even Christmas! How is that even happening again?
There are other events that have served to keep me off kilter, as well. The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, has triggered so many memories of my own mother. The two women were born just a year apart. Like RBG, my mother wanted to become a lawyer. But while Ruth was cheered on by her parents and later, her husband, breaking down the barriers in her path, my mom was discouraged from following that path. My grandfather, himself a judge and state legislator, felt the law would be a difficult profession for a woman of that time. He wanted to protect my mother from the mistreatment he knew would come her way. “Be a teacher,” he told her, “That’s a good profession for a nice Jewish girl.” And so it was.
My mother was a brilliant person and a gifted teacher. She was a devoted wife and as a mother, well, there are no words to describe the depth and breadth of her love for her children. And yet, I have always wondered if she didn’t harbor some regret about the path not taken. In fact, one of her favorite poems was Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.” She used to recite it to me, write it in birthday cards and reference it often. When I would ask if she wished for some other life, some other story, her answer was always the same. She was happy in her choice and dedicated to using her abilities to better her family and our community. And she did amazing, wonderful things. She inspired not only her children at home, but countless children in her third grade classroom.
Perhaps the question I should be considering is not whether she had regret, but rather whether she was fulfilled. And whether fulfillment is not tied to any one thing but is a feeling that comes from satisfying one’s inner sense of purpose. I believe my mother was wholly herself regardless of the task at hand or the job title. She never wavered from living her values and sharing them with the world around her. And while she didn’t change the world in big, revolutionary ways, she changed those in her sphere by being herself.
There is a famous quote, often attributed to Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That was my mother.
Oh, and make sure to wash your hands, wear a mask and VOTE!!!
About Barbara Dab
Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner. Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world. The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .
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