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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/13/10

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Dear Rachel,

Wow! I really identified with your response to Reassure me (Chronicles 7-9-10), the woman who wrote about an almonah’s heartache over her grandchildren’s inattentiveness. Your portrayal of the value of grandparents and the positive impact you can just imagine they’d have had on your life, hit home with me so strongly that I actually felt as though a wrench was lodged in my guts. You expressed my feelings to a tee.

My issue is not my relationship with my children and grandchildren per se but that my children take such a relationship for granted, and, yes, cannot seem to find the time to communicate with their only grandparent still alive.

I lost my mother four months ago and my father’s loneliness is heartbreaking. How happy it would make him to hear from his grandchildren more often! I have to remind them and his great-grandchildren to make the occasional call. How sad!

Is it because we grew up without knowing such unconditional love (as you describe so well) that we place such value on it?

As grandparents we really do appreciate having our grandchildren, and baruch Hashem I have a very close relationship with them all; however, I do have the fear of being neglected in my old age. Hopefully Hashem will bless us, along with our spouses, with the gift of being treasured by our grandchildren.

Thank you for your excellent response. Keep up the good work.

A Daughter and Grandma

Dear Rachel,

I have wanted to speak my mind for a while now but was finally motivated to do so by the letter about grandchildren who can spare no time for their grandparents. Thank you for lending me the column to get things off my chest.

Wouldn’t you be inclined to agree that today’s generation is incredibly spoiled? Take another letter from your column, for instance, where two friends try to figure out which makes a better second wife or husband: the widow(er) or divorcee. In other words, which of the two would require less work and input into the relationship to make it work.

And about that proposition for matchmakers (to offer a money back guarantee), you’d think that acquiring a life partner is on par with the purchase of a piece of jewelry or clothing. Decide you don’t like it after all? The store will always take it back and refund your money.

The way I see it, it’s a must-have, must-be, fill-my-needs world. The hot weather’s unbearable? No need to bear it. The bus, the plane, the train, the office, the store, the house all have air conditioning systems in place. No need to put up with any discomfort. Our grandchildren look askance at us when we tell them that many of us not that long ago didn’t enjoy the luxury of air conditioning and made do with fans.

Letters used to be written in longhand and sent by postal mail (which we patiently and eagerly waited to receive and to read) and we were frugal about long distance calls since they cost a pretty penny. Abbreviated messages were relegated to urgent telegrams.

Those of us whose parents couldn’t afford summer camp were content to play ball, hopscotch or monopoly with friends and neighbors in the same boat, and the highlight of our day was a trip to the local grocer, empty soda bottles in tow, for our much anticipated ice pops.

You’d think that with all the indulgences and conveniences of modern times our children would be better adjusted and more stable than ever, and yet the opposite seems to hold true. The problems we encounter with our youth these days were, in fact, virtually unheard of in our day.

I guess tough love builds strong character, and less coddling promotes endurance and resilience.

Pining for the good old days

Dear Pining,

No pain, no gain, as the saying goes. No doubt the harder we work for something, the more appreciative we are bound to be of the fruits of our labor.

Something to reflect upon: if today’s generation is a spoiled one, aren’t we somewhat to blame? Didn’t we run to buy our children every new toy on the market? Don’t we “teach by example” when we indulge ourselves in the latest and most sophisticated gadgets that money can buy?

Dream to your heart’s content about the good old days (who doesn’t?) but there is no going back – that era is gone. As the words of that old nostalgic Yiddish song convey, “Vos is gevehn is gevehn ” (Whatever was, was, and is no more )

But there may yet be a silver lining to that cloud that hovers above, a bright side to all of this modern sophistication. Despite the materialistic world we live in or better yet because of it, more and more of our alienated youth are developing that inner sense of missing out on something and are coming back “home” in droves. The Baal Teshuvah movement around the world has never had the momentum it does today, and that’s certainly a good thing.

And, considering the times we live in, you’d have to concede that we in our day didn’t have the enticements that this generation must fend off. In these dark times, it would serve us well to view our cup as half full rather than half empty and to seek out the virtues in our progeny rather than to focus on their weaknesses.

Let’s applaud, not criticize; the challenges of today are enormous, but together, with encouragement, support and unity we shall overcome.

Thank you both for venting in this column; we value your opinion and appreciate your input.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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