Had I known that 1947 would have the last Thanksgiving that all of us would be together, I would have used one of those new reel-to-reel tape recorders as a centerpiece for the dining room table instead of a bouquet of mixed asters. Well, the world doesn’t work like that, does it? Characters have no idea what’s going to happen to them, just like in real life.
Thanksgiving, 1947, everyone was there: Mim and Ephraim; Paul, Caroline and their boy Benjamin; Rachel, Henry, Joshua, and Dagmar; and Sidney by himself as usual; and my dear Hans. Rachel was pregnant again, which surprised us allincluding Rachel. She was still in the queasy stage, since the baby wasn’t due until May.
I remember that Palestine was the main topic of conversation for the adults. The three children were more involved with the difficult concept of sharing two sets of Lincoln Logs. Looking back, I realize that sharing was a difficult concept in the Middle East, too.
The United Nations as still debating the future government of Palestine after the end of the British mandate there. On the table then were two separate statesone Arab and the other Jewishand an international government regime for the Jerusalem. Britain was planning to leave the area by the middle of 1948, so something had to fill the vacuum.
Mim was unusually quiet. And she didn’t even take a second helping of my mashed sweet potatoes, which she usually devoured. I wondered if she was thinking about Serakh and being back in the days of the Bible, so I asked her about that while we were getting dessert together in the kitchen.
“I do miss Serakh,” she told me. “And especially Tirtzah, back when we were together, so long ago. Did I ever tell you that Tirtzah said she would name her son after my brother Danny?”
“What a lovely thought,” I said, even though I had only a vague idea of what Mim was talking about. I finished putting the coffee in the percolator, and turned my attention to Hans’s apple torte. “What’s bothering you?”
“Nothing,” she said. “It’s just well, to tell you the truth, I thought I was over this whole menopause stage, and this morning I started staining again.”
I laughed. “No unprotected sex for you, young lady, or the next thing you know you’ll be wearing Rachel’s maternity clothes. Who would have thought a scientist and a businesswoman could manage to miscalculate on ovulation dates?”
We talked about Rachel, as I recall, and then I told Mim what Hans and I were planning to announce in the next week or so.
“We’re going to move into a place of our own, and give Rachel and her brood this house now. I mean, why wait for her to inherit the place when I’m dead? She needs the room now.”
Mim already knew about the inheritance part, but she still looked astonished.
“Well, it makes perfect sense,” I told her. “Hans and I found this lovely little cottage near Cordornices Park and the new rose garden. The place is the perfect size for us.”
I made it sound as if Rachel and Henry were doing me a favor. Frankly, with Rachel staying home to tend a third baby now, it would have been impossible for her and Henry to afford another place so near Mim. When I told them later, Henry insisted that he and Rachel pay rent on the property, and I didn’t insult them by saying no.
Mim still looked tired when we gathered at her place for a Hanukkah party a couple of weeks later. “Something’s not right,” she told me. “I’ve made an appointment with Dr. Kravitz.”