My mother is one of the most persistent and resourceful people that I know. Nowadays, when I look in the mirror, I see my mother. And, I’ve learned so much from her determination.
During my childhood, my mother went back to college and then to law school. We grew up eating cereal for dinner most nights and we were okay with that, because that was our reality. My mother had never taken algebra or writing classes before college and my father tutored her along the fourteen year path from Math 101 to LSAT’s until her graduation from Law School.
It all started years before when she appeared in court for a traffic violation. As she explained the position of her car and the related facts, the judge was visibly impressed. He asked what her line of work was. She replied, “I’m a Hebrew school teacher.” The judge then asked, “And, what does your husband do?” My mother answered, “He’s a rabbinic student.” The judge then gave her a life-altering piece of advice before waiving the ticket. He simply said, “When you are done pulling your husband through Rabbinic school, ask him to pull you through Law School. You have the underpinnings of a great lawyer.”
That judge’s understanding of law was infinitely better than his comprehension of the Torah lifestyle that my parents had chosen. After all, Torah is a lifetime pursuit and my mother never stopped “pulling my father through Rabbinic school”. But, my mother listened carefully to his encouraging words and put the wheels in motion. Her own father had been studying in Law School before the Holocaust and never completed his education. His dream was that one of his children would carry on that legacy. Until the judge’s comment, my mother had never imagined that she would be the child to fulfill her father’s dream.
Fourteen years of education pursuing that dream as a working mother of four lively children had its challenges. And, it was not the typical course for a kollel (Rabbinic student) wife, especially in those days. There were many nights where we attended college and law school with my mother. And, there were those snarky comments from those that just didn’t understand or agree with the dream. But, with G-d’s help, we all persevered and celebrated when my mother passed the Ohio Bar on the first try, after those long and difficult years of study.
And, then we began worrying. How would my mother, the perennial student, manage as a self-employed attorney? The fourteen years began when I was in fourth grade and now I was newly married and living elsewhere. How would my mother transition from the theoretical to the practical? How would she find the practical expertise to help her clients?
And, the worries persisted for only a short while. Because, my mother was vested in the transition from school to practice. My mother was determined to become the expert in certain aspects of law and she lacked the practical know-how. Law school had taught her so much of the theoretical, but there were gaping holes in her practical application of the law. And, her persistence, creativity and resourcefulness were up to this new challenge.
My mother found mentors. And, not just any mentors. She sought out the experts in Cleveland in the areas of law in which she needed help.
She called the top Cleveland lawyers in each area of law expertise. She introduced herself, gave a brief description of her background and asked if they would be willing to do a good deed and mentor her. When they asked how she had found them, she told them that they were well-known as the experts in that area of law and she would be honored to have them as her mentors.
Just about every one of these top-notch attorneys agreed to mentor my mother. They were kind, helpful and attentive to her and she was most appreciative of their assistance. When she felt that she knew enough to manage on her own, she sent each one of these lawyers a small gift with a handwritten thank you note in her large scrawl.
That is mentoring done right.
It had worked so well for my mother that I tried it on my best friend, Lori. In our house, she is the grilled chicken guru. I had a long way to go to preparing the perfect grilled chicken. So, I called Lori before Purim and asked if she would mentor me by helping me prepare the grilled chicken for our Purim seuda (feast) on our grill so that I could watch and learn.
I learned how to grill chicken properly. Mostly, I learned that I would never be able to match Lori’s meticulousness. She had a cutting board and special knife set up for slicing each piece of chicken down the middle and a stopwatch for timing everything perfectly.
There was one important take-away from our backyard mentoring session that I have been implementing. I never leave the backyard while anything is on the grill. Although I skip the cutting board and stopwatch, I watch the grill fastidiously, making sure to turn and remove everything in the right time. There are occasions that will test the doneness of my grilled chicken by slicing the thickest one open to check that there is no pink in the middle. I leave the perfection to Lori and I thank her because the mentoring paid off immeasurably.
Now, for some grilling tips:
(1) Use a great marinade and marinate for at least a few hours or overnight. The marinade will tenderize and flavor the chicken.
(2) Clean your grill and spray with cooking spray before placing the chicken on the grill.
(3) Use your hot spots on the grill for the thickest pieces of chicken and cooler spots for the smallest pieces.
(4) Stay vigilant! Do not leave your backyard until the chicken is ready. Turn and remove pieces as they are ready.
(5) Make the grilled chicken yours by serving with torn fresh herbs, salsa or a homemade sauce.