“After I was transferred to rehab, which would be my home for a year, I was taught how to deal with my new situation on a day-to-day basis.
“From the beginning my mother only wanted family or Jewish aides to be taking care of me. For the first few years, my family members were my primary caretakers. However, as my siblings grew up and got married, there were fewer and fewer people who could stay with me, care for me and sleep with me, as I required such help 24/7.
“It took quite a bit of trial and error, until my mother became convinced that the only way to solve the care giving problem was to import foreign workers. In Israel, these people are generally not Jewish, and come from Third World countries. The Israeli government, and more importantly the Health and Foreign and National Health Ministries not only permit this nationwide solution to our aging and ill population, but in many cases underwrite the entire expense.
“For me, they were able to supply two male aides.
“As we were surprised to learn, and by we, I mean my Charedi family – and especially my mother – the cultural differences only worked for me.
“A few years ago, Hashem sent me a wonderful helper who came from India. He is a nice, respectful and generous person. Not much time passed before we became quick friends. D. has shown me that “giving” is not just something one does; he has elevated it to an art form.
“As he wasn’t the first aide we had, I had others to compare him with. I am not exaggerating when I say that he stands head and shoulders above all others. He works for me with another man, but he is my “Main-Man,”with me 24/7. He sleeps by my side at night and helps me put on Tefillin every morning. My family teasingly calls us the “The Odd Couple.” In fact, our conversations and bickering make us sound more like an old married couple rather than an aide and patient.
“That my family, especially my mother, is able to do this is a sign that they have taken a baby step in learning not to judge others by his or her external appearance, cultural background and religion. They are learning to see a person by his or her inner self, the heart and soul, independent of extraneous information that only serves to color the true data.
“In a few months D. goes home on vacation and to check out the ‘shidduch’ prospects his parents have arranged for him. Two years ago when he went home for two months, I became so depressed that I couldn’t function. No one could find a pill or therapy to ease my sadness.
“When he returned, the depression vanished overnight. This time, however, my sorrow is mixed with my happiness for him. He is going to find a wife, become engaged. He will return for the year-long engagement period and then go home to begin his life in India as a married man. As hard as that will be for me, I cannot help but feel joy for him. He is so deserving of everything good. I can’t begrudge him a thing, after so many years of his devotion and friendship, and the calm he has imbued in me. I owe him more than he owes me. I only hope and pray that the next aide is at least eighty percent as good and kind as D. was, and is, to me.
“One of the reasons I am sharing all this is because one of the life lessons my accident has taught me is the skill of opening my eyes and heart to the souls of others so different from those we were raised with.