March 8th, International Woman’s Day, was the birthday of my Grandma Fried. She came to this country from Hungary, in the steerage section of a boat. She raised two boys (twins) while working 7 days a week in the grocery store she and my grandfather had. By the time I was born, she was a widow who wore heavy stockings, sturdy black shoes and always had a tissue tucked into her bra. She said her v’s like w’s and wisa wersa.
I spent every Sunday morning with her when I was a kid. She taught me how to braid challah and brush it with egg whites. While it was baking, we’d clean up and sometimes she’d sing old Hungarian folk songs. To this day, there is nothing in this world that smells quite so much like love to me as the smell of bread in the oven. On the ride home, I’d sit in the front seat with a warm challah on my lap. No wonder I thought we were rich.