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Learning the Secrets

(by Jen Rubin)

When I was a kid, my grandmother, Ethel, lived with us during the summer months. She moved to Miami Beach from New Jersey when she was in her 70s but stayed with us from Passover (in the spring) until the Jewish high holidays (autumn), both to avoid the heat and to spend time with her family. My mom, Sandi, was the youngest of her three daughters, and Grandma stayed with us because our house was the most comfortable for her. It wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable for my mom. Of course she loved her mother, wanted her to feel welcome in her home, and to spend time with her grandchildren. But living with her mother was often exasperating. Case in point: My grandmother practiced family socialism with my mom’s possessions. She thought my parents were in the best financial position in the family, so she might give one of my mom’s skirts to a different family member or take a pair of earrings for herself. Each fall when Grandma returned to Florida, my mom’s sisters and nieces would return her possessions, but anything Grandma claimed for herself was gone.

A little back story on my grandma: