It is said that most people don't remember much of what happens before the age of 3, and neither do I. This is probably why I don't have that many memories with my mother, but those I do have, I have been treasuring and re-living ever since she passed away.

One such memory is "scratchy-scratchy" or "zgâri-zgâri" in Romanian. She had delicate hands with long, thin fingers and even when her nails weren't too long, they were perfectly manicured and anyway, were the longest I had seen in my childhood. Sometimes, when the bedtime story, read from a big book of children stories ("basme") wasn't enough, I'd demand "scratchy-scratchy" and if she was in the mood, scratchy-scratchy would visit. The dramatic structure of the story wasn't overly complex and it consisted mainly of her moving her hand around, like a magic wand of peace and relaxation, and scratching the bedding sheets, making a sound that would have awaken any cat from the deepest sleep, had we had one. Yet somehow, that was often all it took for me to finally give up the hyperactivity ghosts and go to sleep.