My step-mother Martha once taught me a bit of some numerology that she had learned as a sort of Cabalistic lore, I believe, and it stuck with me – I've repeated it (or rather riffed off of it) many times, usually in the form of an impromptu birthday message to someone for whom I've just added up the sums of their age numerals in my head. So this year, for me, 6 + 8 = 1 + 4 = 5; a five year is complicated, the first real star, drawable with one hand, interlacing, layering and triangulating in multiply intricate ways. But the three has really always been my favorite, the one that results from the union of the two, synthesis, a joining together of aspects which at last reflect in varied ways, unlike the clear unity of the ones or the rigid bifurcations of the twos.
I thought about the threes and why I love them as I rehearsed in my mind--questioned myself about--the tripartite time frames I've been using in my pitches to describe the work we're undertaking with 3rd Space as a continuation of the Maker Project. The three levels of chronology are the immediate, as in, we just scheduled a workshop at the MAH for August 31 from 4 pm to 8 pm; near term, as in, there will be three follow-up workshops in that series, and we'd like to initiate a tri-County planning process for awareness of and potential participation in the upcoming 3rd Space Monterey Bay, May 14-17, 2013 (or May 21-24, depending on when the Maker Faire will be); and long term, as in, we need a seven figure grant to support teachers throughout our region participating in creating locally relevant project-based curriculum to implement the Common Core Standards effectively by 2015.
Martha was obviously hurt when, near the end of her life, I jokingly told her that teaching me that cold water is better than hot water to remove smells from fishy dishes was the most important thing I'd ever learned from her. I weaseled out of it in the moment somehow, but I've often reflected on that hurt that I caused her, and the implied anti-feminist denigration of her contributions to my character as being "merely" domestic. Recently NPR has been doing a bit on asking people and celebrities [celebrities are people too, my friend!] to record a memory of their parents' record collection. I was almost immediately reminded of the moment when Martha came back from one of her many trips to Las Vegas -- it must have been in 1956 -- with stories about a wild singer that the teenage girls were so mad for, they were carving his initials into their arms! The Elvis stories didn't really grab me, but she immediately went to a black record store and bought a huge collection of authentic R&B 45's - the Coasters, the Drifters, Fats Domino, and many others quite esoteric at the time. This was my introduction to the music that would define my musical world from then on, for many years. So I'd begun to think of writing a piece to Martha, telling this story and thanking her for a much more psychologically significant gift than getting smells off of dishes.
But I think the amateur Jewish numerology was even more profound. And it make a nice trilogy of anecdotes about Martha....
Our family gathered on April 20, 2008, to celebrate her life.