My mother, who died at 83, suffered from dementia in her last year or two. Only forty-seven when my father died of cancer, and still full of vitality, she finally met a fellow named Ted. Ted gave her many years of companionship until an illness forced me to move mom from Buffalo, our hometown, to Philadelphia, where I worked.
Ted died in Buffalo about a year before mom died in Philadelphia. When his family called to tell me of his death, I felt I had to find a way to break the news to mom even though by then her dementia left her unable or, I sometimes thought, unwilling, to acknowledge anything I said to her, even by nodding her head.
I began by asking my mom if she remembered Ted and, as usual, received not a look or a word that indicated she understood what I had said. So I repeated my question and, once again, nothing. Her lunch, almost none of it eaten, still sat on a tray table next to her armchair, and something possessed me to move the table and tray aside and take both her hands in mine as gently as I could. Looking as straight at her as I ever had, I asked mom once again, this time with a special softness, if she remembered Ted. And while once again she gave no sign of hearing me, I thought I saw something in her eyes that flickered recognition. So I repeated my question again, and as I did the tears began falling down her cheeks. My few softened words had apparently gotten through to her, and we looked at each other with as much affection, I think, as we ever had, or ever would, even though (or perhaps because) our “conversation” was about somebody else. But it was less my few words, I think, that started up her tears than the feel of my hands in hers and hers in mine.
Our week in Istanbul ended with a boat tour of the Bosporus. The second photo is of a smaller mosque on shore, smaller because lacking the many minarets of the larger mosques. The third photo is of a suspension bridge across the Bosporus and the fourth of some lovely people on board from the Republic of Ireland with whom we had a spirited conversation-filled lunch.
There are three photos below, the first of Mary with a buddy she made, the last two of a delicious fish dinner we enjoyed at the end of our trip, accompanied by the inevitable Efes glasses of beer we had been enjoying since we arrived in Istanbul. Happy 2020!
This is a not-to-miss site. Constructed in and around 1660, it is also named the Egyptian eyalet, “eyalet” referring to a province or district within the Ottoman Empire that was a source of building funds. The Misir Carsisi, or Spice Bazaar, is a huge covered shopping complex of some 85 stores featuring spices to be sure, but as you can see in the photos below, all sorts of goodies (tea and the variously made cubes of sticky jellies known as Turkish delights).
It is possible so to identify Istanbul with Islam that the city’s eagerness to appeal to Western style tastes (European and American especially) goes unrecognized. But here we are enjoying a delicious food combination at a hotel other than ours.
Turkish carpets have been famous for their quality for centuries. So it was a pleasure to have our tour bus stop to examine some, especially since a few on our tour looked interested in buying one and having it waiting for them at their door when they arrived home. Needless to say, we were not among those buyers. Neither were the two sitting near the salesman on your left.
The first photo is of a ceiling mosaic depicting in the center the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child: on the left side as you look at it is a model of Constantine with his new city of Constantinople and on the right Constantine with a model of his new Church.
The above photo and the one after it record the existence of Hagia Sophia in the heyday of the 6th-century Roman Emperor Justinian.
The above photo, as you can see, records a 9th century mosaic panel of the Archangel Gabriel and the last one a dateless marking of the place in the Hagia Sophia where emperors were crowned.
Taken together these photos speak to me, along with the wonders of Byzantine art in the first one, an excessive partnership between Church and State during the Byzantine period. That situation has persisted in many places and is by no means confined to Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Islamic religions.
The Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, or the Logos, or the Second Person of the Holy Trinity) stands close to the Blue Mosque and together the two represent the two great religions of Istanbul: Christianity and Islam. The Hagia Sophia dates from the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (360 AD), was turned into a mosque in 1453, and then, in 1931, a museum. It stood for over a thousand years therefore as a Christian Church, more specifically a Cathedral of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, famous for its interior Byzantine art and its architecture. Even now one is struck by the contrast between the frank humanity of the interior art, mosaics mostly, and the colorful abstractions of the interior of the Blue Mosque.
An Ottoman mosque from the 15th to the 20th century, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1931 by Ataturk, the President of the secular Republic of Turkey. It stands now simultaneously as a moving reminder of the earlier stages of institutionalized Christianity and a popular tourist attraction.