If you think I was an easy kid, you are sadly mistaken. The words most often out of my big mouth were: ‘Why?’ ‘How come?’ That my mom continued to love me and survived my childhood is an absolute miracle. If I’d been my kid, I’d have thrown me off the 3rd floor balcony to shut me up.
I was the youngest of five and my poor mom was stuck with me after the rest of the kids attended school. She knew she could keep me quiet and hold me spellbound with her stories of Dybbuks in her native Russia. According to her, she not only knew about them, but had seen them in action herself! Imagine.
Dybbuks, mom said, could do anything. They were evil spirits or dislocated souls of the dead — truly malicious and troublesome creatures who would enter the body of another person or animal and create havoc during a temporary transmutation. The tales she could dream up to keep her pesky Muriel quiet were unlimited and each was different.
I loved those stories about Russia, where well-behaved horses suddenly overturned carts or fled in terror when inhabited by the mischievous Dybbuks, or ordinarily placid cows suddenly kicked whoever tried to milk them, and loving dogs bit their masters or behaved strangely. How could I resist?
I’d sit like a good girl and listen avidly while she ironed. (People did a lot of ironing then.) When I’d get a little uncomfortable or carried away with a story, I’d declare — somewhat hopefully, that they couldn’t be real.
‘Oh, but they are,’ my mother always assured me.
‘Well, HOW COME we don’t have Dybbuks here?’
‘They’re only in Russia.’
‘Because they’re afraid of the water and they’d have to swim to get here.’
Well, that explained it, right? How could anyone or anything swim across the ocean.
You have to admit it was a creative response. Could you have come up with that?
My mom had an answer for everything.