life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Yes, Dad, I know you feel lost and confused. But you're in your own bed, in the house you bought 46 years ago. I don't know what to say when you ask me to take you home. You ARE home, surrounded by your family. At least you still recognize my face and know my name. It pains me to hear you call out for your sister Eva, she's been gone since I was 12.

You look so small and fragile in that wheelchair. You've lost a lot of weight. I remember when you had a hearty appetite, when you had to worry about putting on a few extra pounds. Do you remember taking that Chinese cooking class? And the trips to Flushing for authentic ingredients? Or how you made supermarket shopping a game, collecting coupons and scanning the circulars to see how much you could save on each grocery item? When I do the shopping now, feeding the masses, I think about you.

I'm hoping you'll be well enough for that trip to the theater Friday. You haven't been in five months. It's a musical, so you won't have to concentrate too hard. Not like the old days, when you went to the theater every week. Or when you had me search the internet for the plot synopsis of the operas you were planning to see, so that you could understand what was happening on stage. You're the one who showed me how to find the "Nina's" in a Hirshfield drawing.

You wanted to be a writer, but instead wound up as an English teacher and school administrator. You and Mom were always reading. We had a house full of books, a real treasure trove. When I see Jen or Becca pick up a book and lose herself in the story ... That's part of your legacy. You don't read much anymore, maybe the newspapers in the morning, when you can concentrate. At least there are worthwhile movies on Turner Classic Movies.

On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur it is sealed. Each year we pray that we may be included in the Book of Life.

But I remember the story you told about my grandmother. How she suffered, because whatever the doctors did for he breast cancer made her diabetes worse, and whatever they did for the diabetes made the breast cancer worse. That you prayed for her suffering to end. And the mixture of guilt and relief you felt when she died just before Passover, and the strangeness of the Seder that year.

And I think about a very scary conversation you and I had two years ago, when you were "summering" in that rehab/nursing facility. The things you told me not to share with my mother and sisters. The conversation you asked me to forget. I can't forget.

When I stand before G-d in the synagogue tomorrow, what should I ask of Him?

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