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My grandpa was a water glass —
The kind you find in Jewish homes
Between the prayer books and Shabbat candles,
With eight sides and a deep rim,
And a flickering light inside.
Dead before I was born,
My only memories are Dad's few stories
And Yahrtzeit candles.
Mom is but a juice glass,
Disguised as a votive holder
And a slab of stone over stony ground,
Her body decaying to dust.
Her memory remains
In baby blankets and sweaters
Made for others' children
In place of the grandchildren she will never have.
Love passes on in memories
And mismatched sets of glasses.
Each time we drink from them
Yizkor is the Jewish memorial service for the dead, said five times a year (on Yom Kippur and the three harvest festivals, and Yahrtzeit, the anniversary of the person's death). One of the rituals of this service is to light special "Yahrtzeit candles" at home. Years ago, these plain paraffin candles were made inside water glasses, which would later be cleaned out and used as such. Today, they are either made inside juice glasses or votive holders, or purpose-made votives placed inside specially-marked tin cans.
Mom passed away New Year's Eve. While we probably should have lit on Passover and Shavuot, I had to work too late on the last day of Passover to safely light the candle, and I tend to forget about Shavuot — I'm (obviously) not the most observant of Jews. So Yom Kippur marked the first time my sister and I said Yizkor...