September 7, 2012 - by Louise Greenfield
My mother gave me words of wisdom, but not directly.
My mother, Naomi, would sit in a little alcove off our dining room and talk on the telephone to her sisters for hours. She could spend an afternoon on the phone talking to Judy, then to Laika, then Bluma, and then to Rose.
When I was very young I used to love sitting literally at my mother's feet and l would listen – very carefully.
Of course I only heard my mother's end of the conversation. She would adamantly refuse to answer any questions about what the sister on the other end of the line was saying.
What I did hear was my mother talking to each sister, one by one. It was often the same topic, but it was never the same conversation. She might change her tone of voice, ask different questions, give different advice, tell different stories.
What I learned from my mother and her close relationship with her beloved circle of sisters was that whether among family, among friends, within organizations, or in any combination of people, community does not just happen. It must be created and nurtured. I learned that community is built step by step, word by word, idea by idea, action by action, person by person. I also learned that community is vital.