“Mommy, I need my immunization record to send in to the camp office,” my son informed me. “Would you be able to take care of that for me?”
“Sure,” I responded, “No problem. All the records are in an envelope in Abba’s desk; I’ll find it and send it to you.”
“Thanks, Ma. You’re the best. Love you so much!”
“Love you too!”
Click. Click. End of conversation.
And, as I was soon to find out, just the beginning of a frantic, unexpected – not to mention mind-numbing and eye-straining – search and rescue operation.
Baruch Hashem, we are blessed with 10 wonderful children. But how many health records did I find in the designated manila envelope in my husband’s study desk? Correct: There were nine. And it seems almost anti-climactic to spell out which of my 10 lovely children had had their immunization cards inexplicably go AWOL.
Not that I was unable to unearth anything belonging to said fabulous son. Far from it. I discovered a veritable treasure trove of artifacts and documents, including but not limited to: birth certificate, Social Security card, elementary school report cards and progress reports, Dor Yeshorim number, and so much more… down to a lock of hair from his upsherin! But the elusive record of his shot history? Nowhere to be found!
However, the directors of the program for the coveted summer job he had been offered several months earlier were not going to be interested in our excuses; finger-pointing at Murphy would be to no avail. And the position he had vied for and was looking forward to filling was in real jeopardy if the required document would not be found and delivered by the looming deadline.
So, like any mother since time immemorial would have done in my place, I got to work. Although searching for missing items (a constant fear and bitter reality, considering the number of absent-minded members of our household) is definitely one of my least favorite activities, now was not the time to preach or level accusations. Now was the time for action.
Under the circumstances, I had no recourse but to shelve my mental and written to-do lists until further notice. Like a brave explorer of old, I set off on my voyage. I would not give up until I had achieved my quest and discovered a new continent, the fastest trade route to India, and/or the missing vaccination record – whichever came first.
My husband’s antique desk, purchased some 20-plus years earlier for 50 dollars at an estate sale, would become the focal point of my professional investigation. And despite its admittedly decrepit condition beneath its still attractive exterior, I had high hopes that both of us would somehow survive intact.
Let’s just say that the ancient desk fared far better than the nearly ancient amateur detective. After hours on end of my unrelenting search, the closest I had gotten to the finish line was retrieving one totally outdated shot record, which recorded the immunizations my son had received during the first two months after birth, and the most recent (though nearly a decade old) HMO cards from our pre-aliyah days.
With so little to go on, the fearless (and perhaps equally brainless) detective contacted our former medical provider in the U.S., and after much back and forth with the kind and infinitely patient, albeit unfortunate, woman who took the call, she was able to procure the phone number of our branch’s record retrieval office.
However, the 10-hour time difference between us and Los Angeles resulted in additional unforeseen delays. Undeterred, I was eventually able to connect with the correct office and request a copy of my son’s immunization record.
Not quite so easy. The prescribed protocol was that they would email me a form, which I would then have to fill out, sign, and return to them. Although I carefully spelled out my email address (i.e., Sam, George, Nancy, etc.), the email never arrived.
After another 24-hour delay, I tried calling long-distance once more and again spelled out the required information. This time I received the form, and followed all the instructions. But predictably, the first form I sent never reached its destination.
Baruch Hashem the second try did arrive at the LA office, whereupon I was told that it could take between one and three business days to process. In the end, they may have had rachmanus on me (or just grown tired of my annoying follow-up calls), and they unexpectedly expedited the process and sent the shot record in (pun intended) record time.
Besides which, all my digging in the study desk yielded some unexpected positive results. I unearthed a few notifications of State of Israel Bond purchases made in honor of my kids’ bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations, and the like.
Another flurry of phone calls followed. It turned out that while most of the bonds had already been redeemed, because of our frequent moves, the checks for two of my children’s bonds (each totaling several hundred dollars!) that had long-since reached maturity had inadvertently been mailed to a previous address and never been cashed.
The lovely woman at the bond redemption office took down our current address (yes, lots more George, Nancy, Harry, etc., but infinitely more tongue-twisting in transliterated Hebrew) and assured me that she would issue new checks and send them to us in Israel.
I have to admit that my somewhat skeptical gut-feeling was “I’ll believe it when I see it!” But now, nearly two months later, we finally received the reissued checks for the long-forgotten bonds. And our kids are over $1,200 richer as a result.
B’chasdei Hashem our search and rescue operation ultimately yielded lucrative results well beyond our initial expectations.