Every Saturday after services, the Messianic synagogue’s festive lunch, and the Rabbi’s fine hour or so of Torah study, the remaining congregants would gather in the basement and play mah jong until Havdalah, the closing ceremony of Shabbat.

I always worked Saturday afternoon, and had to duck out after lunch, but I had a standing invitation to the game. I had fantasies that someday I would, indeed, arrange to be off on Saturday so I could stay for that very special long afternoon with a shot of vodka — L’Chaim! — and plenty of good cheer. 

So many Jews are also Buddhist — hence the Chinese food on Christmas. I suspect there is an ambient sense of the connection between the non-Christian peoples on the Lower East Side of New York, and that has clung to the culture. It just makes sense.

Not that mah jong isn’t fun.

Peggy’s breast cancer was the longest slog. Then Covid descended and I got pulled into so many shifts as a Nurse’s aid that I could not really focus on the day off, the restful hours of union with G-d, the gorgeous luxury of the day of the two souls, the temple's communion in bright and happy ways playing a game in the activity room.

I was looking the other way when she died. 

I am aghast. 

Why didn’t I take the day off when I could? Now it is a memory. 

I will pray for her soul in the usual way. I will light a candle on her death date for her yahrzeit. 

She was quietly good at many things, including boat refit. She ran the office at two boat yards for many years and was still working when she passed away. 

Fair winds and following seas, dear Peggy.

Peggy Anne Vargas, January 10, 1956 - May 30, 2023

© Joann L. Farias 2023