web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


When Grandma Dies


Rosengarten-072514

She wasn’t the dead type. She passed away in her style, flashing out from one minute to the next like a light bulb gone dark. The funeral, which I only heard about an hour before it took place, was done with her body still warm.

And I’m thinking, they’ll lower a gravestone over her. On her kitchen cabinet, affixed with white masking tape, is a poem she clipped from the New York Times several years ago. She read it to me and to my mother on the phone, and to my friends who came with me for Shabbos when it was my turn on the family roster. It said, “Don’t place flowers on a cold gravestone, visit me now…”

So we visited. But not for her.

Each room had carpeting and a chandelier, which she called a chilar. Her beds were homey, the rooms small and cozy, and it wasn’t until she got an aide with a stack of supplies that smelled of medicine that I realized the house was old.

Her neighbors sent her meals. They had formed a family of friends as one does with people who send their house smells out into a common hall. She lived in the projects in Williamsburg, on the tenth floor.

When we came, we knew it was a twenty-four hour thing. It wasn’t tempting to brave the stairwell up and down ten flights, our feet echoing the rats away. So we sat, and it was warm and cozy, and Mayerowitz sent in challahs in a plastic bag, and Cinner a kugel.

Babby shopped for her specialties on Lee Ave, her aide pushing the wheelchair while she pulled things off the shelf, smelled them, and spoke to the proprietor about freshness and the news. By now, most of the people who had opened their shops when they first realized they needed to feed a family, were sitting in living rooms bedecked with wedding photos of grandchildren. New, young men were in charge, and they didn’t know that the wheelchair-bound woman was someone to laugh with. But she made it be known. She asked questions and demanded service, all with an outstretched hand rising high above her wheelchair handlebars. She was one of those who remained tall at eighty, taller than me, so the wheels of her chair never overwhelmed her.

She shopped for crumbly, mouth-watering cheesecake. She brought home pickled tomatoes, hot purple eggplant dip and thin slices of pastrami and tongue. And she put up a chulent of lima beans, chicken feet, potatoes and hard-boiled eggs, slow cooked to dreaminess. Her freezer always held cherry twin pops and a chocolate-covered vanilla pop. Her fridge door had chocolate where the butter should be.

There was food but no nosh. She told us, “If you want garbage, bring your own.” So we did.

We ate the seudah in the kitchen. We made kiddush and right away poured the wine into three plastic cups filled up to the half mark with ice. Then we sipped slowly.

Depending on my companion, we sang zemiros. Mostly, we had predictable discussions with Babby.

“If I’d win the lottery,” Babby started, “you’d all be happy.” She’d drink another sip of wine, pour from this bottle and that, and cluck her tongue. “And suddenly people will come knocking on my door on the tenth floor.” She smiled, the pride already hers.

“I let my husband sit and learn all the years. My job was to let him do his.” I wondered what that looked like; what I remember is my grandfather already made old by a stroke. Her allegiance to him made her whisper, “Do you want me to put you in an old age home? I’m keeping you here, because it’s good for you to be here, even though it’s hard for both of us.” I sat behind them on the couch as they cried at the dining room table; he nearly doubled over in his wheelchair, pipes and bags hanging behind him. Later he was gone.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “When Grandma Dies”

  1. My mother has always said, ‘If you can’t come around now, don’t come later.

  2. MY GRAND MOM SAID
    I ALWAYS BE WITH YOU IN YOUR HEART..
    SHE SAID THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS IN YOUR HEART+SPIRIT

  3. I brought Scott to see my mother, his great-grandmother. She really enjoyed seeing him.
    And when she died, I knew I did right by Mom.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

The musical production was beautifully performed by the middle school students.

South-Florida-logo

Greige offered a post of her own. She said, “I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel.” She contends that she was photobombed.

South-Florida-logo

This year, 40 couples were helped. The organization needs the support of the extended Jewish community so that it can continue in its important work.

In the introduction to the first volume, R. Katz discusses the Torah ideal, arguing that the Torah’s laws are intended to craft the perfect man and are not to be regarded as ends unto themselves.

A highlight of the evening was the video produced by the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center on the legendary Agudah askan Reb Elimelech (Mike) Tress, a true Jewish hero.

Until recently his films were largely forgotten, but with their release last year on DVD by Re:Voir Video in Paris they are once again available.

Though the CCAR supported the Jewish right to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael, it strenuously objected to defining Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

“Well, you are also part of this class! If someone drills a hole in the boat, the boat will ultimately sink, and even the innocent ones will perish as well. The whole class must be punished!”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I find his mother to be a difficult person and my nature is to stay away from people like that.

Here are some recipes to make your Chag La’Illanot a festive one.

Does standing under the chuppah signal the end of our dream of romance and beautiful sunsets?

We aren’t at a platform; we are underground, just sitting there.

More Articles from Chany Rosengarten
Rosengarten-072514

“Don’t place flowers on a cold gravestone, visit me now…”

Rosengarten-060614

I kept looking at him and looking away, and his eyes seemed brown and kind.

But there’s more to us New Squarians. And it isn’t all about blow torches, although we use those too, to light the torches used to escort a chosson to his wedding, to kasher catering kitchens, and to weld iron, sometimes as window bars for our condominium windows, three flights up.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/when-grandma-dies/2014/07/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: