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When All Else Fails, Play Gin Rummy

Gin Rummy

Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

He told me his siblings and their spouses spent hours trying to talk sense into him and all he told them was that his stepmom was the problem. Gin!

He told me he hated the family gatherings when his sisters and brothers came with their spouses and talked about his mother, He expressed his anger at the chutzpa of these people who have spouses and families and were mourning his mother, while Yechiel was the only one who truly felt her death. Gin!

He said the only real yosem was he. Yechiel was the only one truly capable of feeling mommy’s loss because he was lost. Mommy died alone and he was alone. Gin!

One day during our card game, Yechiel told me he dreaded going to the cemetery with the family for the yahrzeit the next month. He said that once again his siblings would cry their eyes out that mommy was not here, while standing next to their spouses. He said he would feel invisible.

I was aware that Yechiel spent his days cutting class, riding his bike, smoking cigarettes, while trying not to get expelled from yeshiva. I asked him, “Where do you bike to”? He said, “No where in particular.” I asked him what cemetery his mom was buried in. We Googled it and found out that the cemetery was only 8 miles from his house. He called the office and they told him they could show him his mother’s grave.

The following week he came and told me he spent time with his mom. He said he rode down Ocean Parkway through Prospect Park onto Eastern Parkway into Bushwick, found the cemetery, and his mom’s grave. He told me he had a long conversation with her and told her how lonely he was and how much he missed her. He told her that he knew that Tatty could not deal with the loneliness and needed a wife. However, the new wife was not a replacement for her. He told her that he realized now how much chesed she did and how smart, funny and frum she was. He told her how angry he got when Tatty’s wife told him to go to sleep. She was not his mother! He told her he missed her desperately and could not get over the pain. He cried at the grave. He told me he cried, but he was not alone. He told me he felt his mother was crying as well. He told me he was biking daily to the cemetery and talking to his mom. He told me it was good to be with his mom. He was not alone. He also said that he was ready to share his mom with the rest of the family at the upcoming yahrzeit.

In June, Yechiel reported that he was accepted to an out of town yeshiva high school. In July, Yechiel said good-bye to me and went to camp. I wrote the notes, and the discharge summary, and got busy with other patients. I hoped and prayed that all would be well with Yechiel. I figured I would never see him again and forgot him.

However, we met in Yerushalayim. Yechiel told me that he had done well in high school and Bais Medrash and was living and learning in Israel with a wife and daughter. He thanked me for being there for him through his teen-age crisis.

He looked me straight in the eyes and thanked me again. This time I cried. Gin!

This session never got in to the notes.

About the Author: Noach Schwartz LCSW, CASAC, CSAT-C, is a clinical social worker with a private practice in Boro Park. Noach is trained in Motivational Interviewing, CBT, DBT, and the 12 Steps. Noach specializes in behavior addictions and sees individuals, (incuding children), groups, and their spouses in Boro Park as well as Manhattan. He can be reached at 718-974-4391 or via e-mail noachyschwartz@gmail.com.


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Gin Rummy

He recognized me before I recognized him. We were in Yerushalayim on different sides of the street. He was six foot two waving and yelling my name. “Noach, Noach, Noach Schwartz, the social worker! It’s me Yechiel Klein! Don’t you remember me?” He was wearing a hat, white shirt and suit and looked like a regular bochur from the Mir or Brisk. He did not look like the Yechiel I had met ten years earlier at a clinic in Boro Park.

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