It was so uncanny.
We were sitting in a restaurant in Manchester just hours after our mother’s stone-setting and a few hours before returning to our homes around the world. We had decided to eat out as it had been an exhausting day, physically and emotionally and none of us could think of cooking for twelve.
That week had been the first time we four sisters had been together since our mother’s death, 6 months earlier, when we sat shiva together in Manchester before three of us returned to our respective homes in Jerusalem and Teaneck.
Was it appropriate, we wondered, to eat out at a restaurant only hours after the unveiling of our mother’s memorial stone. But we remembered that one of Mum’s greatest pleasures had been to see us all together enjoying ourselves in each other’s company, catching up on family news and having a good laugh , as inevitably happened when we four got together.
We sifted through the long menu not knowing what to order. I hadn’t eaten out for many months and found the choices overwhelming . My mind was still on the day’s events.
We hadn’t only had the unveiling of the memorial stone but had also taken the opportunity to visit all the old familiar places of our childhood.
We hadn’t been back to our hometown, Leicester, for about 30 years, except for our mother’s funeral that frozen, snowy day during last Chanukah. So we decided to drive round and visit our old childhood homes, and schools and visit the old neighborhoods. The changes were incredible. Most of the population was now non-white, non-British and mainly Muslim or Seikh..
The shul where I had married, remained the same beautiful building, both inside and out but it was now surrounded by an almost totally Muslim population. Few Jews lived within easy walking distance as we had done in our childhood.
Our parents had settled in Leicester during the war. Refugees from Germany were glad to find a haven in which to settle and finding a job which allowed my father not to work on Shabbat was a priority. We had enjoyed an untroubled, happy childhood. Despite the lack of any Jewish schools in the town and with very few religious families, our parents’ wonderful example of religious strength, coupled with friendship and a warm tolerance to all our fellow Jews had been enough to ensure that we four had grown up to build our own homes on the same strong Jewish foundations . Only now as parents and grandparents did we realize just how difficult it must have been for them bringing up a family under such circumstances.
Knowing that we would not find a suitable partner in our hometown, and that our future didn’t lie there, we had all left Leicester when we graduated school and moved to Jewish centers in England and Israel.
Before our parents had had a chance to join us , our father died suddenly and was buried in our hometown. Mum, who had later moved to London to be nearer her children, had retained her burial plot next to his in the Leicester cemetery, frequently reminding us that when the day came, we should remember where she wanted to be buried.
And it was to there that we brought her on her final journey six months previously, and where we returned today to unveil her stone which seemed to look comfortable next to our father’s.
With three of us living abroad and only one still in England we had had no opportunity until now to go through Mum’s possessions together, seeing family photographs and documents, many dating back to pre war Germany . So we had spent the last week together reading, trying to understand , attempting to identify people in old family photos and reminiscing about our childhood and what our parents had been though before we were born.
And then suddenly we heard it.
As we were sitting in the restaurant ,drained after a long emotional day, the background music suddenly changed. Instead of the typical piped ‘invisible’ music , it suddenly changed to the strong tempo of Motzart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ ( A little Night Music) .
We four sisters looked at each other in amazement. We hadn’t heard this in many years. It was our mother’s favorite piece of music which she used to hum happily all the time at home when we were growing up . Maybe it was connected with the time she and Daddy had met, I don’t remember, but it’s association with our parents was 100%.
To us, on that emotion laden day it’s message was loud and clear, It was as though together our parents were looking down on us from their place in the World of Truth and sending a message that we would clearly understand was from them. We felt their presence as though they were sitting with us and we sensed their contentment at being together again.
With tears in our eyes, and a sense of warmth in our hearts we ordered our meals.