Braided: A Story For the Ages

Belmont Village - Westwood, author in the middle with  Braided  event participants and organizer, Sandra Stoff Heller

Belmont Village - Westwood, author in the middle with Braided event participants and organizer, Sandra Stoff Heller

I came to tell my story. And share some challah. I came to explain how it came to be that I had pivoted from just practicing medicine to also making challah and writing about it. Instead, I came away with so much more. I might have left the bread crumbs on their table, but I took away years of wisdom. They were all older than me; that goes without saying. They were all wiser too.

I spoke of braiding dough; I brought dough to demonstrate. They spoke of lives lived - decades and decades of lives lived. I spoke of trying to find balance, as a physician and a mother. They spoke of literally finding balance, one step at a time (most came into the room with walkers, two in wheelchairs).

A. came up to me beforehand, pushing her brightly decorated walker, clearing a path. She forthrightly explained that while she was looking forward to the talk, after all she had read all about me online (internet savvy at age 102), she may get up at a moment’s notice and leave. She paused. Perhaps to gauge my response, I thought later? It’s me, she said brightly. I have trouble hearing, especially women’s voices. If I can’t hear you, I’ll leave.

She stayed.

They all stayed; they all shared their own experiences too. Some had made challah, most had not. But they all had braided together their own lives and for a brief moment that sunny afternoon, were happy to share a bit as we broke bread together.

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