In her book, Women Holding Things, author and artist Maira Kalman paints colorful images of the women in her life. In it, she points out perceived exhaustion, anger, fortitude, guts and patience – her philosophy in poetry and prose. She brings memories and photos to life in her paintings and inspires with her words.I am particularly inspired by her remembrances of her parents. Descriptions of failed relationships, love, and the human condition. Family members lost in the holocaust. Memories of what was and what could have been.

Kalman inspires me to reflect on our lives, our families and our work.  Each of our residents at Jewish Senior Life holds the gift of time.  And we so appreciate them spending it with us.  I would love to share more time with those who can no longer speak for themselves. And with those who are no longer here . . . Each holds a special place in our hearts. We remember them always.

In Women Holding Things, the author speaks to us between her painted portraits…

“What do women hold? The home and the family. And the children and the food. The friendships. The work. The work of the world. And the work of being human. The memories, the troubles, the sorrows, the triumphs, and the love.“

In her book, she writes, “Men do as well, but not quite in the same way. Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly happy or content, I think I can provide sustenance for legions of human beings. I can hold the entire world in my arms. “

“Other times, I can barely cross the room. And I drop my arms. Frozen.”

“Then, I am brought back to my grandmother, my mother, my aunts, my sister, my daughter, my granddaughters, my cousins. The women who are my friends. We have spoken to each other for thousands of years. About all that can be held. And not held. And how sometimes the water runs through our fingers. And how sometimes the cakes are baked, and the beds are made. And the books are written. The bed and the books and the cakes. In my case, it is good to hold all.”

“Holding a specific thing is a very nice thing to do. You are standing there, and you hold an enormous cabbage. Or a violin. Or a bright balloon. That is a job in and of itself. The simple act of doing one thing. And perhaps someone you are walking with will ask you to hold something for a minute while they tie their shoelaces.”

Of course,” is the answer. “As long as you like.”

“My mother would ask us what is the most important thing? We knew that the correct answer was Time. You could say that my mother lost a great deal of time to an unhappy marriage. But how unhappy was it? Shakespearean level? Run of the mill unhappy? Impossible to say. I can’t ask her because she is no longer alive. But she ultimately left my father and found her time.”

“Finding time is all we want to do. Once you find time, you want more time. And more time in between that time. There can never be enough time. And you can never hold on to it. It is so strange. We live. And then we die. So unutterably strange. “

These reflections hit home for me, and perhaps for you. Find the time. Take the time. Hold the time. Make it all count. Let go of petty grievances and aggravating annoyances. Take time for yourself.  Seek peace. Seek joy and embrace it in your arms. Take the time to do things that make you smile and share that smile with your loved ones and friends. It’s never too late to give. This moment is all there is. Be here gently. Recognize the importance of not wasting any more of our precious time together.

Shabbat Shalom.


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