It would be expected that I would think about my mother, as my daughter and I sat down for Kol Nidrei. From my seat I could see the daughters of the woman who died last Rosh Hashanah, the wife and daughters of another shul member who died a few months ago, and behind me were the wife, daughters and granddaughters of the Holocaust survivor whose eerie, yet moving, funeral we attended at 11:30 PM the previous night. And the next morning we would say the Yizkor prayer for deceased relatives.
So there we sat, and something made me remember that I had once checked a perpetual calendar and learned that my mother’s birthday, September 27, 1925, fell out on Erev Yom Kippur—or theoretically in the evening, on Yom Kippur itself. I don’t usually mark her birthday, my mother always played it down when she was alive and never admitted her age. I asked my daughter the date and sure enough, it was September 27, even though we were not in the same year of the 19-year cycle. But the eight and the 19th year are usually close together, and in 1925 Erev Yom Kippur also fell out on Sunday.
What I find bizarre is that my mother, assuming the documents are accurate, was born on a significant day of the Jewish year and that this fact did not become part of the family folklore. We all knew that my brother was born around Rosh Hashanah and my parents asked the rabbi what would happen if the brit were to fall out on Yom Kippur (in the end he was born on Erev Rosh Hashanah).
Was this part of my mother’s natural reticence? But it’s exactly the kind of thing my grandmother would have talked about. Maybe, being the youngest and having the least contact with my mother’s extended family, I was somehow out of the loop?