Hello,

THE CONNECTION[i]

 

Sarah Tzafona, Cluculz Lake, British Columbia, Canada

 

It was such a little thing, misplacing the car keys. Anyone could do it. In fact Gabi had done it countless times throughout her life and had never thought anything of it. So, if it were so natural, so common place why was she so panicky? Oh, she knew why, all right. It was as those little things that were beginning to add up. And not the ones that took place when she was sixteen, thirty-six or even fifty. It was the ones that had begun just before her sixty-first birthday, the Birthday of Dread.

Gabi shook herself slightly. Didn’t want to think about that. Not now. Needed to find the keys. Needed to prove that her fears were misplaced. Needed to prove that the doctor, who was so very young, knew nothing about nothing, was a medical fraud, incapable of

diagnosing a simple case of acne.

She looked frantically around the room, trying to visualize her movements of a few short hours ago. She saw herself coming through the door, keys in hand. Then she forced her image over to the bookcase and saw her hand drop the keys into the cut glass bowl. That’s where she always placed them. What’s the matter that they’re not there? They should be there! Darn! No forget darn. Wasn’t good enough! Damn said it all. Without thinking, she moved quickly to the case, picked up the empty bowl, and hurled it across the room, watching it as it skidded off the coffee table, taking her Siddur, Prayer Book, with it. Damn! Damn! Damn!

Quickly, Gabi took a deep breath and swallowed her cries then walked gingerly across the hardwood floor, her stocking feet missing shards of glass. Bending down, she picked up the Siddur and out of habit, let her hands glide over the cover. “Listen up God! I refuse to

follow protocol and kiss this so called sacred book of Yours, You hear? Just because it landed on the floor doesn’t mean I have to bind up its wounds! It’s lies! You hear that! Nothing but a book of lies! False promises! That’s all! You Liar! You unmitigated, invisible liar!” Once more, her arm raised as she heaved the book at the door. She gasped when she watched it land, covers spread, pages bent. For a brief moment she was horrified, then she remembered the reasons for her action and the horror was eclipsed by her fear.

Again, she took a deep breath. No success this time. Her control was shattered with the tossing of the book. Small tremors erupted throughout her body, a foreshadowing of the imminent eruption of tears. She gulped then sat on the couch, curling up her legs, arms

encircling her midsection, a feeble attempt to quell the storm.

“Mom.”

A quick swallow as Gabi tried to take control. Thought she heard a sound. Someone in the room. Shouldn’t be anyone here. Couldn’t be. The door was locked. Wasn’t it?

“Mom.”

Gabi sniffed then ran her hand over her eyes, clearing her vision. It was Ali, her beautiful Aliya, the one always climbing higher, always in ascension. No matter the obstacle she could always manage to scramble up another rung of the ladder. How could such strength and wisdom come from her traitorous body? “Ali,” Gabi finally said, her voice gravely. “What are you doing here?”

“I told you I was coming, remember?”

Gabi looked away, irritated. Don’t play memory games with her.

“You left your keys in the door, Mom,” the younger woman said gently.

“What’s the matter, was the phone ringing when you came in? Distracted you?”

Gabi seized on the excuse. That was it! Had to be! She glanced at the phone, praying for it to reveal its recent history. It had rung. Surely it had rung. Ali said that it probably had. She wouldn’t lie. But Gabi couldn’t remember. Her daughter’s movement drew her attention away from the phone. She watched as the younger woman bent over and picked up the Siddur and brushed it against her lips then placed it gently on the table.

“I had a temper tantrum,” Gabi said simply. No excuses. She was the mother. Needed no excuses. “Well. Only natural to experience anger once in a while. I’ll get a broom and clean up the mess.”

That’s it? That’s all she’s going to say about the tossing of the book? No lectures about desecration of a holy text. Just ‘only natural and I’ll get the broom.’ Well, Gabi had done something right when she had raised the girl. Taught her all about the Fifth Commandment. Nothing wrong with Aliya’s memory.

“Want to tell me what’s wrong?” Aliya asked after she had disposed of the evidence of her mother’s anger.

“I don’t remember.”

The younger woman sat next to her mother and took her hand. “Is that what this is all about? Your memory. Mother, it’s natural to forget things especially with all you’ve been through the past few years, with Dad’s death and the baby.” She paused, took a quick breath and looked over her mother’s shoulder.

“The baby--Nes. I do remember his name,” Gabi said. “Say it, Nes’s death. It’ll get easier if you don’t run from it.” Now it was the mother holding her daughter’s hand.

Aliya sighed softly. “It’s been almost two years and it still hurts.”

Her voice raised at the last, sounding somewhat like an accusation.

“I didn’t say it would go away. Just that it would get easier.”

“Yes, that’s what you said.” She shook her head slightly, as if to rid herself of the unwanted memory. After all, she was young. Could afford to toss out myriads of memories.

“So maybe with all that’s gone on, you’re entitled to a memory lapse

or two,” Ali continued. “Don’t you think that you’ve got it all out of proportion, panicking without a solid reason?”

“I went to the doctor this morning.”

“What? Without telling me? Without taking me with you? I should have gone!”

“Why? You afraid that I couldn’t find my way there and back? Afraid that I wouldn’t be able to understand what he said?”

“No! Of course not. It’s just that I’m your daughter. I should have

been there for support.”

“If you think there’s nothing wrong with me then there should have been no reason for you to be there.” Ali looked away.

“Except that you’re every bit as afraid as I am, aren’t you?”

“Nonsense. Misplacing your car keys or even leaving them in the lock isn’t proof of Alzheimer’s.”

“It’s more than that and you know it! Last week I ended up at the beach and didn’t know how I got there. I drove six miles through the Vancouver streets and didn’t remember a thing. Can you imagine the absolute terror? One minute I was correcting papers at the kitchen table and the next I was sitting in the sand at Kitsalano! It took me thirty minutes to find my car and that was only by accident because I didn’t even know I had a car to look for!” She gulped. Please no more tears. God, if you’re paying attention, give me a little dignity. I need to store up the dignity so I can use it later.

Aliya shook her head slightly. “Some kind of a fugue, having to do with everything that’s been going on. You’ve been depressed, you know that, with Dad, Nes then my divorce. All natural. Good grief. I walk into the kitchen and forget what I’m after. Everyone does it.”

Gabi liked Ali’s theory. In fact had used it over and over for the past year. But it was a lie. The facts proved that it was a lie. The doctor said that it was a lie. “It took me two hours to balance the check book last month, did you know that?”

“So. It takes me two hours every month and most times I still can’t balance it.”

“That’s because you were always lousy at math and never wrote down your checks. Stop fighting this, Ali. I’m a math teacher! But I couldn’t remember what to do. I couldn’t grasp the simple theory of subtraction!” She took a deep breath. Might as well get it all out. Reveal all the felonies committed by a brain that had abdicated responsibility. “Last month I went into the principal’s office. You’ve met Meg, haven’t you? I’ve worked with her for years. A good friend. See her five days a week during the school year and meet her for lunch during the summer. We’re going to retire in the same year. I can close my eyes and see her features. I know her well! But when I walked into her office I couldn’t put a name to her UNFAMILIAR face!”

Aliya swallowed and looked down at her mother’s hands. “It happens,” she repeated softly.

“You’re darn right, it happens! It’s happened much too often over the past three years.” Another deep breath, this time to slow her heart beat. You’d think she’d been running a road race. “Do you want to know what the doctor said?”

“Not really.”

“Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. I passed all the tests with flying colors or at least the questionnaire. Took a blood test and will be scheduled for a MRI. Even without the tests, he suspects early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m a star pupil. Perhaps a defective chromosome”

“Who did you go to?  Did you tell him all that’s gone on?”

Did she tell him? Of course she did! Wasn’t going to miss a chance to offer up all the excuses she could.  She’d thrown open the closet door and exposed every nook and cranny to the light.  And he had just sat there, scribbling, probably making a shopping list.  Then he’d just shrugged and launched into his suppositions. SHRUGGED! He had

shrugged off Ron’s death as if it were a minor blip on her world stage. Ron, the only man she had ever loved, the man who had touched her soul in so many ways and taught her all about goodness. A real mensch, he was. And he had died cruelly, cancer running a steeple

chase through his guts, depriving them both of so many years. So much love. And the doctor had shrugged it off just like he had shrugged off little Nes, a glorious baby, laughing, reaching out tiny arms to his grandmother and to the world, absolute proof, then, that God still performed miracles. Little Nes, found dead in his crib at eight months, from SIDS.  Please God, no matter what she might forget in the future, please don’t let her forget the baby’s smile, the color of his eyes or the sound of his laughter. But was God listening? No. Couldn’t be or if He were, what good would it do? He was an unmitigated liar.

“So, you told him?” Aliya asked.

“I told him and he still thinks it’s Alzheimer’s.”

“Who is he? Who did you go to?”

“Some young twit barely past puberty by the name of Palmer?”

“Never heard of him. Why would you go to him instead of Dr. Brenner. She’s been your doctor for years. Took care of Dad.”

“Precisely. Couldn’t face someone that I’ve known for so long, couldn’t stand her pity.  And besides, I figured if I went to some kid just out of med school that he’d be so insecure and ignorant that he’d be unable to diagnose my worst fears.”

A quick smile swam across Aliya’s face. “Good for you Mom, find the doctor that’s going to tell you what you want to hear.”

“Thought it was a good idea. But as it turned out, it backfired.”

“Get a second opinion. He probably grasped the easiest and most obvious diagnosis.  Like you said, he’s inexperienced. Your symptoms could be related to your depression.  Who knows, maybe you’ve had a small stroke. Maybe a reaction to your meds.  To say, categorically that you’ve got Alzheimer’s is wrong.”

Gabi tilted her head and looked at her daughter through narrowed eyes.

“A stroke, you say? Now who would have thought that a stroke would sound so appealing?”

“Don’t make a joke out of this.”

“Surprise, surprise, Aliya, I’m not joking.”

The younger woman gripped her mother’s hand. “So the MRI will prove whether or not you’ve got it?”

“Now here’s where the real irony comes in. They won’t know for sure until after I’m dead. Then they can remove my brain, or what’s left of it, and examine it for the truth.”  She wanted to close her eyes, block out the whole world, but she was afraid to, afraid that future images would fast forward through her mind’s eye. She knew those images so well, had seen them in her dreams, had tried to block them during waking hours, when the darkening sky and the quiet within her small apartment conjured them up. There was Gabi, three years from now, wetting herself, forgetting where the bathroom was, or what it was used for. Beginning in diapers, ending in diapers. Then there was the independent Gabi, escaping into the winter landscape in her nightgown, bare feet padding through the snow. It rarely snows in Vancouver, but no doubt she would pick that one night to announce to the world that Gabriella Lerner had lost it completely, had devolved into an object of pity, a frightened animal that wasn’t even housebroken. Oh God, strike her down with anything, but please, oh please, don’t let her lose her mind. It was her mind that gave her a sense of self, maintained her dignity and distinguished her from the family pet. Gabi wiped at her eyes. Where did the tears come from? She thought she’d had them under control. But nothing was under control. Not anymore. Not sense the Dreaded Days of December just before she had turned sixty-one. Four years of free falling. “You know what I did this morning when I got home from the doctor?” she asked rhetorically, “When I got home I turned on the radio, wanted to get my mind off the future that the doctor had consigned me to and guess what documentary they were airing?”

Aliya responded with the shake of her head.

“The woman was talking about Holocaust survivors who get Alzheimer’s, said that after they lose their short term memory, the where are the car keys and I forgot you were coming over, kind of memory. After they lose that, then they only have the Shoa to remember and what came before. Imagine, they had to live through it when they were young and they have to live through it when they’re old. It becomes a reality to them, once again, a continuous nightmare, one that they won’t awaken from. Where is God’s mercy, Ali? Where?” She shuddered then gulped. “Anyway, after I heard that I thought, gee aren’t I lucky? I only have good memories to fall into, except for four years ago when

our world began to disintegrate. I’m really lucky, huh?” Gabi squeezed her daughter’s hand as if she were hanging on for dear life.

“If I’m so lucky, Ali, then why don’t I feel blessed? Tell me, please, where is the rain at its proper time? Where is the grass in the fields? Why, please tell me, why has God broken His promises?”

Aliya gently caressed her mother’s cheek. “Rain at its proper time?” she repeated.

“Yes, yes!” She was frantic now, had to clarify the question before her faulty mind began to obliterate her sacred memories and sacred beliefs. “The second paragraph of the Shema.  ‘If you hearken to My commandments that I teach today, to love Hashem, your God and Serve Him with all your heart then I will provide rain for your land at its proper time.’ And I’ve done that, Ali. You know I’ve done that. I’ve been a good Jew! An observant Jew. I have followed the rules and loved doing it. I have loved God with all my heart and soul! And I have loved Judaism. It has never been a burden! It has always brought great meaning and beauty to my life!  You know this!”

“I know this,” Aliya echoed softly.

“And it’s always worked. Until your father was diagnosed, life had been good. It had been pure joy, smooth sailing. I had done what God had asked and He had kept His promises. But not any more. He opted out when your dad died and when Nes died. He made a mockery of me, you, our people and the backbone of our belief. He made a mockery of His own teachings. He pointed his finger at me from the highest heaven and said ‘Aha! I got you!’ I can hear God’s jeers, Ali. I wake up in the middle of the night and hear Him laughing at me because I was fool enough to believe!” Abruptly, she clamped her mouth shut, teeth biting her lower lip, holding in the words that she really wanted to voice. She knew she would forget the daughter that she loved and their years together.  She knew that her husband’s memory and their life would pass into oblivion as well as sweet Nes. This caused her an inordinate sense of regret. But she would not regret forgetting God. That would be the silver lining in her bleak future. The only thing she could look forward to, besides death. Aliya inhaled deeply. “Do you remember when Nes died?” she began.

Gabi interrupted with the shaking of her head. She would not remember that. Not anymore. Not obligated to. Had the perfect excuse. At least there were some benefits to this scourge that had attacked her most precious commodity, her mind. “I’m not playing those memory games anymore. Remember is no longer a part of my vocabulary!”

“Don’t manipulate, Mother and don’t be hypocritical. You just forced that period on me a few minutes ago. Now, I know you remember so I’m asking you to recall that time after Nes’s death, after Nachum left me, the time when you walked into my bedroom and found me with a bottle and the pills. Think of that now. See me sitting on that bed, drunk and staring at those pills, fondling them. Remember Mother?

Oh, she could remember all right. Didn’t want to. Had tried to forget how close she had come to losing the daughter she adored. It had been odd, showing up at Ali’s place that day. Ordinarily, she would have gone straight home after school and collapsed in Ron’s

favorite chair. She had been exhausted, exhausted from her husband’s illness, his death, from the baby’s death and exhausted from railing about Nachum who just couldn’t handle it anymore, who had no idea how to give comfort but could sure find it in the arms of his secretary, a woman who had her own healing techniques, in fact had been using these same techniques before Nes had died. Yes, she had been exhausted but for some reason her car had taken on a life of its own, had refused to turn onto Oak Street, insisting instead to travel on three more blocks then make the right turns that led to her daughter’s home. Her stomach had had that queasy, butterfly type of feeling, the something’s not quite right kind of feeling throughout the day. The door had been locked but Gabi had a key and had used it without a hint of guilt. Even within the dimness of the living room, she could see the destruction. The cut glass bowl had been smashed, a wedding gift from Nachum’s brother. Ali had been selective, destroying only items that had come from Nachum or his family or friends. And the photos; that had taken some doing. She had carefully cut her husband from family pictures, leaving Ali and Nes intact. The wedding photo had been cut in pieces and left on the coffee table beside a crumpled page ripped from the open prayer book. Gabi had moved quickly through the house, queasy stomach turning into tight knots. She had gone straight to the bedroom and saw Aliya there, sitting on the bed, Nes’s incomplete photo album on her lap, his blanket beside her. The vodka was on the table and the pills were clutched in her fist.

Gabi had wanted to throw up but she couldn‘t. Not enough time.

“How many have you taken?” she had demanded.

Aliya had lifted one shoulder and leaned her head against the wall, her eyes swollen and heavy. “Not enough, I don’t think, but who knows maybe I’ll be lucky.”

Gabi had slipped into automatic, seizing the bottle and pills quickly, calling 911 then poured out the first and pocketed the latter. She had admitted her daughter into the hospital where her stomach was pumped and psyche invaded by the staff psychiatrist.

“Do you remember Mom? All of the ugly details.”

“I remember.”

“This is a test. Tell me.” “I remember finding you. I remember the ambulance screeching ahead of me and my cursing the traffic. I remember sitting by your bed all night, holding your hand and my overpowering fear that you would try it again once you got home.”

“You passed the test. Your doctor is a nincompoop. He can’t tell Alzheimer’s from a wart.”

Gabi shook her head.  “Just God playing another practical joke. Trying to get me to let down my guard, then He’ll really let me have it.”

“If that’s the case then answer something else, before He zaps your memory completely.”

Gabi blinked. “You’re being cruel.”

“No I’m not. Just mimicking you. Doing what you did to me. Shock attack. Trying to get you to listen. Now think. Remember, I did what you’re doing now, blaming God, accusing Him of malfeasance, ready to sue for misrepresentation, for giving us a religion of lies. The second paragraph of the Shema was my proof. An air-tight case. If you recall, I had excised it from the Siddur that day.” She smiled.

“Like daughter like mother, I guess.” She took her mother’s hand, studied it briefly then gently began to rub the palm, slowly, methodically, her thumb massaging the life line.  “Do you remember what you said to me during those first awful weeks when I got home

from the hospital, those weeks when I ranted about this stinking world, created by a lousy god who had no idea how to read a blueprint, a major screw-up?”

A wisp of a smile. “You were somewhat irreverent.”

“More than somewhat. I wanted to chuck it all. If you wouldn’t let me kill myself then I might as well break free from a false religion and opt for one that would allow me to treasure map my way to heaven, click my heels together three times and blast off for nirvana. But you wouldn’t let me do that either. You were a tough mother. Only option you gave me was to be a Jew and then you offered evidence for the defence of God and His promises.  Remember the evidence?”

Gabi shrugged, refusing to meet her daughter’s eyes. Didn’t want to be caught lying and she certainly didn’t want her words used against her.  “I have Alzheimer’s.”

Aliya grinned. “Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. And maybe you’re using it as an excuse right now because you’d rather roll over and play dead.”

“I remember that I’m your mother and that you shouldn’t be talking to me like this.”

“I’m doing this because I love you and I don’t want you to give up, which is what you said to me after I had my stomach pumped. Now, I repeat. Do you remember the evidence?”

Another shrug.

“Okay. You’re not going to help me with this. Guess I’ll have to muddle on without you. You whipped out a copy of the second paragraph of the Shema. An interpretive translation by a rabbi here in Vancouver. Remember how the interpretation goes?” She shook her head slightly. “Never mind. I don’t expect you to remember and not because you may or may not have Alzheimer’s. You weren’t forced to memorize it like I was.  You have no idea how difficult it is being the daughter of a teacher.”

Gabi smiled hesitantly. “Stop with the flattery. Just get it over with. Let me hear the interpretation before the fog rolls in.”

Aliya nodded then spoke gently, each word floating after the other.

““If you listen, really listen to the words of teaching that I give you this day: That is to love God wholeheartedly, Then the difficulties of this life will seem less harsh, because God’s presence will guide you.” Ali smiled. “Verbatim. I may have been lousy at math but you taught me to use my memory. That’s what happens when you have a mother for a teacher, I guess.”

Gabi looked away. So that’s what happened to her memory. She had given it to her daughter.  Well, she wanted it back.

Ali took her mother’s hand. “Look at me, Mom. Concentrate, please. The interpretation didn’t end there. The rabbi went on to urge us to keep connected to God, knowing that life would not be easy but our connectedness can give us peace of mind.” Ali drew a deep breath.

“And that’s what we need, Mom. Both of us need peace of mind.”

Gabi brushed her daughter’s words aside. She was so irritated. Ali couldn’t get past the spiritual stuff. What Gabi wanted and needed were hard core miracles, the kind you could feel, see and experience big time. “So, that’s supposed to carry me through. When I’m in

diapers and have to be fed and am dependent on others for every facet of my life, this is supposed to carry me through?”

Ali shook her head slightly. “I know you want a magic wand. I wanted one too, after Nes died but you only offered me this interpretation, survival 101. You were constantly quoting the rabbi’s words, telling me ‘to keep the God connection close so that we can ‘experience the world from a place of holiness.’ Telling me that it wouldn’t be easy, but it could give me peace of mind.’ If we’re willing to work at it, that is. And it does take work. No magic wands, just hard work. And it made a difference for me, a life saving difference. All your pushing and prodding, urging me to keep the connection, go to shul, pray in community, pick up their energy, pray alone when I couldn’t pray in community, keep the connection going, study, serve God, pushing me to attend the SIDS group, waiting in the car for me the first time I met with a couple that had lost their baby, help myself by helping others, you said, keep the connection going. Serve God. And then one morning I woke up and realized that according to the rabbi’s interpretation, God hadn’t lied. He had kept His promise. I had peace of mind. I still feel an oppressive sense of loss at times, but for the most part, I have peace of mind. I realize now that the only guarantee we’re offered is God’s presence and it’s His presence that will help us navigate any mine fields of pain that we might encounter. But just like the rabbi said, we’ve got to keep the

connection going. That’s the only way we’ll experience peace.”

Gabi closed her eyes tightly, needed to get away, at least emotionally. So much frustration.  What was wrong with her daughter that she couldn’t understand? “But Ali,” she croaked, tears once more near the surface, “How do you, God or the rabbi expect me to have peace of mind when I won’t have a mind left. It’s been short-circuited. God has switched off the lights, destroyed the power grid. No power! No connection! No strength! And no peace! How do I do it?”

Ali took a deep breath and smiled. “Your name is Gabriella, Mom, which means, God is my strength. It’s innate. You simply have to connect with that strength, short circuit or no short circuit. Because the only other option you have is to curl up in a corner and cover yourself in the darkness. You can give up your mind right now or you can fight for it. And if it’s not worth fighting for then why the concern for its loss? Keep the connection going and while you do it, get a second opinion, go to Doctor Brenner. Who knows, with her experience she may decide that these brown-outs of yours are not due to Alzheimer’s but something else entirely.”

“Or she may confirm the diagnosis of the nincompoop doctor,” Gabi said.

“She may. But the formula for life is still the same. Work hard on the connection and serve God. Because if you don’t there will be no chance for peace of mind, no comfort and the harshest of the harsh could be your experience. Your choice.”

Gabi looked out the window at the fading light. How appropriate. The darkness was closing in on her and the only hope of keeping it at bay was to throw herself into the God-stuff. No medical miracles in the offing. Just hard work at keeping afloat until the plug is finally pulled.  “Just prayer and shul, is that what you’re saying, is that enough to sand off the connectors? Because I’ve been doing that and there’s no peace. Nothing. Difficulties are still difficult.”

“No you haven’t. Not for a long while. Not since you’ve been overpowered by this fear.  You forget, I go to shul with you. You’re not a participant. You’ve been going through the motions, that’s all. You’ve erected some kind of negative shield, deflecting all positive

energy. You’ve been angry, blamed God and punished Him by withdrawing.” She smiled. “Again, like daughter, like mother.”

Gabi looked down at her hands. Ali was right of course. She had exiled God from her life and withdrawn into her cocoon with nothing but misery and fear for company. She wasn’t sure that she could break free and make the turn that was needed. Wasn’t sure she had the strength, despite her name. “And what happens after everything is gone, short term, long term and everything in-between?”

“I’ll be there for you, Mom, every day. If you can’t make that connection consciously, then I’ll do it for you. If there’s nothing else in the world that you’re aware of, you’ll be aware of God. I promise you that.”

Gabi blinked, amazed at the surge of gratitude. No fear now, just gratitude. “I’ve been so afraid that you wouldn’t be there, that I’d end up in the home and you wouldn’t come around, that I’d be a burden. I can’t stand the thought of being a burden. Do you know that?” She cursed silently. The tears were coming again. Why couldn’t she control the tears?

Aliya gently wiped at her mother’s face. “I love you. You’ll never be a burden. Nothing could ever make you a burden. That’s how love works.”

Gabi leaned into her daughter’s palm, and for the first time in months, maybe even years, she couldn’t quite remember, she acknowledged that God had done something right. He had created Aliya.

“Now, you need to make that call to Doctor Brenner’s office so that we can know the truth, know what we’re up against. And then tomorrow, I want us to go to the care facility.”

Abruptly, Gabi pulled away, the flame of anger ignited once more.

“Why? You that eager to pick one out, before I even see the doctor!”

“You pushed me into the SIDS group, Mom, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, being around all those couples that had lost their own babies, reminding me of my own loss. ‘Help yourself, Ali by lighting the way for others,’ you said. ‘All part of the program.’” Aliya paused and took a deep breath then smiled. “I want you to go to that home, reach out to those residents, listen to them and treat them with the love and dignity that you want for yourself. It’s called serving God by helping others. It‘s also called, helping yourself by helping others.” Another smile. “Now, are you going to make that call, connect with the doctor, and more importantly, are you going to make that other connection, the vital one, the one that’s guaranteed to be clear and operating, if you just punch in the numbers? It’s your choice. What are you going to do?”

For a brief moment, Gabi considered her daughter’s questions. Should be so easy, yes or no, flight or fight, independence or dependence on a God who would only offer the guarantee of His presence. Gabi had a gut feeling that the doctor had made a correct diagnosis. She hoped she was wrong but the odds were that her future would be a minefield, all right, and navigating it alone would no doubt be catastrophic. But maybe, just maybe with God’s help she’d be able to pick her way through with a minimum of pain. Gabi sighed deeply then finally opted for the only real choice she had.



[i] The author has woven within the storyline an interpretation of the second paragraph of the Shema, which was written by Rabbi Dina-Hasida Mercy of Vancouver, BC. It is published here with her permission.

 

 

Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal Spring 2013 Volume 10 Number 1

ISSN 1209-9392

© 2013 Women in Judaism, Inc.

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