The fact that R wanted to attend James’s family’s Seder was a surprise. It was made even more surprising because R rarely made plans to go out two nights in a row (and we had previous plans to have dinner together the night preceding the Seder). And Seders are intergenerational–children of all ages. So there’s lots of energy. That said, R wanted to keep our Sunday night dinner date and go to the Seder the following night.
The street by James’s son’s home was filled with cars. We were let out in front. At the exact moment we closed the car door so my husband could take the car in search of a parking place, James came down the long walkway from the house as if on cue. Greetings and hugs all around and a lot of conversation preceded our walk to the front door.
Once inside the house James’s daughter-in-law’s mother introduced herself and warmly greeted us. Then James’s wife appeared–another warm greeting as we were ushered through the house and out the back door to a patio and yard filled tables. (We’re obviously in a warm part of the U.S.) Our table had a red table-cloth–and one white straight-back chair for R. (All other chairs were the rental, metal collapsible kind.) R’s seat was at the side of the table closest to the buffet and also offered a view of all tables. Obviously extra efforts had been made for R.
After being seated at the table well before the Seder began, R never got up and was never alone. I think we knew three of the 54 people there. But everyone knew James, who immediately sat down across from R and introduced her to everyone who came over to greet him.
While seated, but before the meal begins, Seders follow a prescribed script with guests–children and adults–taking turns reading certain passages in the traditional Haggadah (Passover prayer book). While the host (who was the leader) explained no one was required to read, neither R, nor any other adult, nor the children missed their turn–and R’s voice came through appropriately loud and clear (and she wore no glasses).
Throughout the meal R was constantly engaged–listening attentively, really interested and, as usual, sharing wisdom interspersed with up-to-date knowledge and always-interesting olden-days memories. During dessert and after, R was involved in thoughtful conversation with people she just met. And when we finally said our “Goodbyes,” (my husband and I were exhausted, not R) only James, his wife, his daughter-in-law and his son remained.
4 Lessons Learned and 1 Observation will follow Saturday