I miss my grandma. Her name was Faye Lazar, but to me, she was either, “Grandma,” or, “Maca.” (My brother, Philip, couldn’t pronounce the word, “grandma.” He pronounced the word, “maca,” and it stuck.
She made THE BEST matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, boiled chicken, chopped liver, lumpy mashed potatoes with grilled onions, with every flavor of Nehi pop, to wash it all down. In other words, while veering off the beaten path is fun with new, creative recipes, there will be a hell of a lot of matzo in each Passover, as I pay homage to one of the greatest women I have ever known.
My grandma lived for 102 years. She was in the Glenview newspaper for her 100th birthday celebration. I was pregnant with my first daughter and looked like Karl Malden on a bad day, but I didn’t care if anyone took photographs of my, Karl Malden “glow.” I was so excited to celebrate this milestone with her.
She had extraordinarily gorgeous, soft, scarcely wrinkled, skin. She was offended by other women when they’d ask her what she used on her stunning skin. (GASP!) It was private information and a lady simply never shares such personal secrets.
My grandma was born in Michigan City, Indiana, and she and her family once had a two-headed cow. This might have been the only other time that my grandma was in the newspaper, but I’ll have to fact check that. She was, after all, also a hat model. Her beautiful face might have been in the newspaper while modeling hats.
There’s a lot to say about my grandma and it may not be that interesting to you. For me, all that she was and all that her memory is, captivates and enchants me. I loved her and she loved me.
For Passover, and really, pretty much for ANY Jewish holiday, it was the same, PERFECT menu. I didn’t realize how good her home ground gefilte fish was, until I tried all other gefilte fish as an adult. The same holds true for her matzo balls, chopped liver, etc. All made from scratch with such obvious love.
While my grandma had a stove, I remember her cooking on an old electric griddle. I didn’t realize how funny it was at the time, but I am so happy to remember it vividly. I am certain that Faye Lazar had a damned good reason to use that griddle.
Years after my grandma had died, on a September 24th on the front lawn of my mom’s house, my mom shared some other things about my grandma. I will never share these things, because a lady doesn’t share such private information.
All that I learned on that day, made me cry, laugh and commit to remembering her strength, love and independence, tenfold. (She was born on July 4th, by the way.)
My daughter, Charlotte Faith, is her namesake. Charlotte has qualities that are so similar to Faye Lazar, it’s eerie and wonderful.
So, while I eat matzo and immerse my body and spirit into the retelling of the story of Passover, my version, each year, is with my grandmother close. For this, I am eternally grateful.
I love you so much, Grandma.