Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Kind Of Quiet

it is 4:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I have been too tired today to function.  I'm going to meet a friend soon to go to town for the last night of the klezmer music festival.  I actually hate crowds but I feel like I should get out a bit.

I spent the entire day yesterday at the hospital with my friend.  I hadn't slept more than an hour or so the night before, but I nevertheless, got up and out at 8:00 a.m.  I ran to the clinic for a particular medical document and then on to the hospital, I went.  we waited hours to see her oncologist.

I kept thinking the entire time that I had, indeed, been treated at the rolls Royce of cancer facilities in tel aviv.  it was so stark and depressing at the zefat facility.  I wasn't all that impressed with the doctor either, but my friend was.  I wish her all the luck in the world.  she has a long and hard road in front of her.

I ran back to town after the hospital to another clinic to start some of the paperwork. as usual, they had problems processing the forms.  her bone marrow test is scheduled for the morning and the payment voucher form hasn't come in, yet.  I am exhausted from all of this process and it isn't even for me.

I am meeting my friend at the other clinic, near my side of town, in the morning to see the social worker.  I will hopefully get hold of the voucher tomorrow.  I am planning on going with her for the bone marrow test.  I need to get my house in order for my guests coming on Sunday.

I couldn't do a thing today.  I doubt that I will get much done tomorrow, either.  I may have to put the guests up on my flour in separate bedrooms.  I am running on low energy levels these days.  I have a part time cooking gig next week in my old yeshiva.  it's for almost two weeks.  nothing to brag about but it will pay the water bill.

I haven't seen any of my family all week long.  they have all been hustling.  they're out first thing in the morning and back, late at night.  I haven't heard the grandkids' voices, either.  I guess everyone is busy and doing well.  what else do we want for our kids?

none of us wants to be suffocating or controlling.  I never thought I'd become 'a Debbie downer', either, in my golden years.  I used to be funny.  I used to be very attractive, too. it's funny how hard luck breaks you down.  fear is a big factor in this equation, too.  cancer, brain tumors, immature married kids and lack of money all contribute to a person's losing himself.

I am taking it one day at a time.  I am hanging in there.  I am trying to pay it forward and help my friend.  in a little while I will be facing my own medical challenge and undergoing brain surgery.  if I say it enough times it will become real to me.  I am scared to death.  but if I had to choose between chemotherapy or surgery I guess the answer is clear.  I have a lot to do to get my entire house in order but so little energy to do it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Getting Back To Me

it is 1:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I have started getting my house back in order today.  I took a wooden picture rack off of my front hall bookcase.  it had pix of the kids when they were babies.  it took up space and collected dust.  I don't need baby pictures displayed in my house.  everyone here is grown up.  the grandson doesn't need me to kiss him so much anymore.  and the granddaughter is no longer clingy with me.

it's amazing how an entire month of going cold turkey, not seeing your grandmother, changes you.  I hope it will be for the best.  after all, they do see the other grandmother every day so it all works out for them.  I am getting rid of physical baggage now.  I took down a wedding picture of my son and his wife today.  I don't need to stare at this picture everyday.  it no longer pleasures me.  I also took down a wedding picture of my chabad family from about 8 years ago.  I no longer see any of them now so why stare at an old picture?  it doesn't make me feel joyous anymore.

I  framed two drawings that the kids made for me for my birthday and hung them up where the wedding pix were.  those pictures give me a lot of pleasure.  I also hung up my certificate of merit for being a volunteer at the senior's center.  it reaffirms that I am a good person.  I need my house to reaffirm what I have accomplished in my life.  it has to be less of a mausoleum now.  I still have mementos of my parents' lives in my computer room.  I took down a large picture frame showcasing my parents, siblings and their extended family.  I can't look at it anymore.  my parents are gone and so are all of the extended family.  they haven't passed on but they are grown and busy with their own lives.

 no one from the family comes to visit me in this house and now my son and his wife are leaving too.  I sometimes think that this house is cursed.  I went into the storage shed and started to clear it out.  I threw out an antique chair that needed reupholstering.  it has been sitting there for over 15 years.  it was my mom's chair that she probably reupholstered in the 70's.  I need to get my life in order and this helps.  I have tons of boxes that I'm storing for the kids and my niece.  I can't wait to do a number downstairs when the kids move out.

I am going to host a couple for a night next week.  they were friends of my sister in California.  they moved to Israel to be close to their kids and grandkids.  Suckers beware!  I need to go upstairs and tackle the apartment that got dusted last year during the 3 day dust storm.  I won't do it now.  I am going to town to see my friend's play at 5:00 p.m.  I will do it tomorrow.  I guess it's good that I don't have to take care of the kids anymore. 

I removed most of the remnants of the kids' toys today.  it  always pleased me to see all of their stuff scattered in every room of the house.  I learned to enjoy their mess.  they are no longer allowed in every room of the house so I don't need to see their toys.  it is a process but it must be done.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


it is 2:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  the fast ends at 7:44 p.m.  another 5 hours to kill.  I got up 7:00 a.m. and prayed a bit.  I didn't read the book of lamentations.  I did watch two Nazi war movies.  I think the book of lamentations is heavier but hard on the eyes.  I don't think that I can go out today.

I feel a bit weak.  it's really hot outside.  my grandson came up to show me that his loose tooth had fallen out.  he had it in a baggie.  that was our interaction of the day.  if I wasn't so weak I'd go downstairs and visit with them in the backyard.  I can't remember but I think I had them with me during the fast last year.  I could be wrong. 

I don't want to be home when they move out.  I'd like to be away for a few days.  I probably will give up cable t.v. when they leave.  I don't think I will be able to afford it right now.  it isn't really comfortable watching movies at the computer.  my neck hurts and so does my back.  I am definitely feeling panicky but there isn't anything for me to do yet.

there is no discussing what happened with them, either.  I don't know if the daughter-in-law really wants to move or not.  my son can be impulsive.  she probably does want to get away from me.  and I'm sure that her family will be only too happy to pick the kids up after school.  it's a win win situation. win for her and win for her family.

I have to be still right now and not react.  I have to let it play out.  my gut reaction is to make a huge scene and tell them both off.  I feel so much animosity towards them now.  I know, however, that it will not help the situation any.  if I want any chance of seeing the grandchildren on a regular basis, I must play it cool.  I don't expect anything to materialize at once.

the last time they moved out they didn't let me know that they had moved into the neighborhood.  they literally got out of here in a day or so.  they didn't speak with me for three months.  I used to stand at the corner of the synagogue to catch a glimpse of my son.  this time they will living far from the neighborhood.  I won't be catching any glimpses now.  my grandson will be going to first grade in another neighborhood so I won't be seeing him any time soon.  if I want to see my granddaughter I can walk to the gan up the street and try to catch a glimpse of her during recess.

I think I have to take a step backwards.  my good friend and psychic sister says I need to learn communication skills.  I've been wanting to join a codependent anonymous group for years.  I guess now is the time.  the holidays will be here soon and then I go back to the hospital for my MRI before I schedule the brain surgery.  I guess i'll have a long break from the kids for a while.

my plan is not to let the kids know I'm in the hospital.  I wasn't going to tell my sister, either.  I mentioned it to her recently and now I regret the decision.  I do need someone to be there for the first day.  I need someone I know to be there when I wake up.  I need someone to make sure that my dental bridge isn't thrown out.  I need someone to make sure that my head is covered.  I have never been put out by anesthesia.  I am scared to death.  I guess I have to see how it all plays out.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


it is 10:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I just got back from synagogue where we read the book of Lamentations.  I say synagogue, but in actuality, it is just a bomb shelter.  there are no fancy pews or stain glassed windows.  we do have three such synagogues in the neighborhood, but I opted to go to the chabad service.

I cried my heart out.  I couldn't see the words anymore.  I wasn't seeing the destruction of the second temple in my mind.  I was thinking of my grandchildren moving out of my house.  I was thinking of how much I invested in this small family unit and about how much I lost.  I was thinking of how futile life is.  I was thinking of how will I survive.  I was thinking about not seeing the kids anymore. I was thinking about being alone this year on the holidays.

the woman sitting next to me must have thought that I was a very righteous woman wailing away like this.  in fact, I no longer think that I am a good woman at all.  I think that I must be a very miserable harpy, bent on destroying the marriage of my only son.  after all, I've been told enough times that my son is always in the middle between his wife and his mother.  I must be a truly awful person for them to move out of the neighborhood completely, to a place that is not within walking distance.

I would like to believe that I am a person who fesses up when she messes up.  I like to think that I am always trying to be a better in-law and mother and grandparent.  but I guess I failed on all three.  perhaps I did indulge the children.  perhaps I gave them too much attention.  maybe I smothered them.  I don't know anymore.  my son told me that it is better for me to only see them on limited visits.  I guess I somehow damaged them.

I guess I should be happy that my son is looking out for my well being.  I guess my daughter-in-law is also looking out for me and that is why she doesn't allow the children to come upstairs to my house anymore for more than a few minutes.  they get how hard it has been for me to handle their kids for the past seven years.  I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful son and daughter-in-law.  too bad I couldn't have been there more for them.  too bad I discouraged their fantasies, hopes and desires.

I feel like I'm in mourning.  in a way it is a mourning process.  seven years down the drain.   I must be more positive.  perhaps all the help I provided: free rent, Shabbat and holiday meals, and unlimited babysitting actually got them to a point where they are able to move out and take care of their kids now.  I don't know what is real anymore.  they do seem more cohesive and the kids do seem closer to their parents.  they even make their own Shabbat meals now.  so I guess it's all good.

I'm the loser.  I'm the lonely one.  I'm the broken one.  I'm the pathetic woman who lives in a huge house all alone with her 2 dogs.  shame on me.  I get it.  I have no life and these poor young kids had to put up with me all of these years.  the poor little kids were never properly bathed and their clothes were covered with dog hair.  the hallway was covered in dog pee and the dogs smelled bad.  I forced them to come over every Friday for dinner when they would have been happier downstairs by themselves.

I couldn't speak Hebrew well and how I must have embarrassed them.  I was always calling downstairs to them to ask if they were hungry.  what was I thinking?  I sometimes went downstairs to see the kids for a moment.  how annoying I was.  I especially overstepped my boundaries this summer when I went to the kindergarten to ask for information about alternative summer camps after the parents had already signed them up.

I must have seemed jealous of them.  I resented their lifestyle because I had none.  they took me out on my birthday to an expensive restaurant and I felt uncomfortable.  I also felt uncomfortable whenever I was with them because they never talked to me.  and it was always my fault.  I didn't speak the language after being here for 33 years.  and why should a young couple want to talk to an old woman?  what could I say to them that was at all interesting. 

I put on weight and wear the same clothes all the time.  I'm not fashionable anymore.  I let the gray hair grow in.  I don't own any jewelry.  I don't know how to drive.  I don't use my cellphone.  I don't own a smart phone.  I don't work.  I spend a lot of time in my house.  I don't smile much.  I seem very judgmental.   I am always talking about dying.  I have strange old English speaking friends.  is there any wonder that they prefer that I don't care for the kids anymore?  they were just being kind to me all these years letting me near their kids.  what was I thinking for the past seven years?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Don't DoThe Crime If You Can't Pay The Time

it is 9:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I have agita. once again.  it's more like a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach.  not knowing my fate, I guess, is keeping me in a state of agitation.  I have been going through psychodrama in my head and of course, talking it over with my friends for hours.

I am paralyzed.  I cannot function.  I am too tired to make a move.  I am haunted by my past.  I feel like I'm trapped in a nightmare.  I want to scream.  I want to wake up from this state.  I went outside and it was cold.  I sat in the shade and I shivered.  I then moved into the sun to warm up.  I fell asleep and the kids walked past me.

the granddaughter came over for a hug but the grandson did not.  he looked tired.  we have always been joined at the hip and it seems like we have finally been surgically separated.  it hurts.  it has to be for the best, right?  I mean, everything is ultimately for our best.  all the pain I'm feeling is for the best.  all the tears that I'm shedding are historically and traditionally spot on.  our temple is being destroyed.  my home is my temple and it's crumbling.

my family is leaving me and I am alone.  I see the grandkids for about a moment every week.  this is my punishment for calling myself a live in babysitter.  this is my penance for yelling at my son when he came up to tell me, ever so quietly, that I had once again ticked off his young wife.  this is my 'al chet'  for being angry at them and not joining them for their huge shabbaton.  this is my repentance for not allowing them to live their lives. 

I am a bit dizzy.  I feel like when I had cancer.  I am too tired to do my dishes.  I am all talked out and yet I want to talk for hours.  I cannot take this quiet.  I cannot take not knowing when I will be let out of this cage.  I want to go back to sleep and never wake up.  I want to schedule brain surgery so that I might die.  I want out.  I don't want to face not having a life.  a life, for the most part, that was based on being a caregiver.

I want to be quiet in my head.  I want to regroup.  I want to start planting succulents downstairs.  I want that awful pool to be taken apart.  I don't want to see that awful swing set or the patio furniture anymore.  I want to finish painting my gates.  I started 15 years ago .  I want to get up and get dressed and go into town.  I want to feel strong.  I want to have a life.  I want to feel relevant.

I don't want to join the ranks of grandparents who are estranged from their kids.  I don't want to get a hobby.  I don't want to take up crocheting.  I don't want to ever cook again.  I want to lose 30 pounds.  I want peace in the middle east.  I want to stop ranting.  I want to stop being sad.  I want to go back in time before cancer and brain tumors and balagon.  I want to feel happy. 

I besieged my son with emails yesterday.  I wanted him to understand that I didn't have an easy life.  I wanted him to understand that I did try to help him all these years and that I got myself into a bad situation in the process.  I wanted him to know that I do want him to succeed and prosper and be independent.  and that indeed, I want him to have a good family life and blossom.

I didn't ask him to reimburse me for paying his health insurance for the past 7 years.  nor did I remind him that I paid privately for his hernia operation a few years ago and stayed overnight with him and took him home in a taxi.  isn't that what moms do even when their sons are married, right?

my son seems lighter.  he even kissed me yesterday.  he asked me how I was this morning.  that's progress, right?  I am playing a waiting game now.  I am waiting for them to move out.  I am waiting to see if they will involve me in picking up the kids after school.  I am waiting to see where they will have my grandson's birthday party this year.  it has been downstairs in my backyard for the past 7 years.  I am waiting to see if they will invite me to the party.  I am waiting to see if my son will ever pop over to say hello and bring the kids to see me.  I am waiting to know if they will want to see me during the holidays this year.  I tend to think not. 

I should be waiting for the messiah, I guess.  yet, here I am. waiting it out in the holy city of zefat, the city of refuge. waiting for the high priest to die.  waiting for contrition.  waiting to be freed.  may we all have a great Shabbat and an easy fast!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


it is 8:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I am much calmer today.  yesterday, I think I spent 8 hours on the phone with all of my best friends.  I was definitely 'ranting zelda'.  I felt so awful and bitter.  the day before I kept busy by helping someone through the medical and social system's bureaucracy process.  it was a truly exhausting day.  I did feel good about myself and my future for a few hours.  I was manic.  I couldn't sleep that night.

I couldn't get out of bed this morning.  I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I forgot to drink yesterday.  I was so busy ranting that I didn't take a break to have a drink.  I did eat quite a bit and even had some of the tiramisu dessert that I had made on Friday.  it was yummy and the taste of whiskey was divine.  I didn't use wine this time because we traditionally don't drink wine or grape juice during the nine days before the fast of tisha b'av.  this is a time of mourning for the Jewish people.  historically, both temples were destroyed.

at around 11:00 p.m. I ran in the kitchen to pour myself a tall glass of chocolate milk. I also ate a handful of grapes.  I had an immediate stomach attack and spent a few hours in the toilet.  I'm sure I was dehydrated.  I tried to drink a couple of glasses of water.  I truly felt ill last night.  I fell asleep with the television on.  I woke up and couldn't stand up.  I went back to sleep until almost noon.  I had planned to go to town to see my friend.  we ended up on the phone for hours.

 my good friend and psychic twin sister, sent me a nice amount of money to show her support.  my friends do love me.  I'd like to believe that I have been a true and loyal friend throughout my life.  I have never had so much drama in my life until I became a mother-in-law.  I also would like to believe that I was an exceptional mother-in-law but I guess that's not the case here.  my daughter-in-law will simply, never, ever understand me.  the true key to our relationship was through the grandchildren.

I heard the kids playing downstairs today and realized that they were still home.  they have been wisped out of the house every morning for over a month.  I called the daughter-in-law to ask permission to enter the downstairs apartment to see my grandkids.  I knocked on the door but no one answered so I used the now 'forbidden' controversial stairwell between our floors.  I wanted to take them out to the park for a bit but the aunt/babysitter didn't let me.  she used to physically pull the baby out of my arms.  I watched the end of a kids' movie with them and sat outside for a bit as they played in the pool.  I don't want them to forget their English.

after less than an hour downstairs, I had had enough.  my granddaughter actually came upstairs to play with her play mobile toys for a while until she was summoned back downstairs.  something has changed.  I have lost the capability to deal with the kids.  I have no patience anymore.  I enjoy being able to have adult conversations now.  my grandson told me that he would miss me when he lives in a new house.  he said that his dad told him that when he comes to visit me I will make an arts and crafts afterschool program for him and his sister.   who's kidding who?

I have always taken the kids to the playground for a while to let off steam.  it has been too hot this summer for that but I always let them play outside on their buggies.  I never had any patience for arts and crafts but I always let them draw.  I always had reams of paper for them and all kinds of crayons and markers and pens.  why should their visits after they move out be any different?  I guess that's how parents deal with the children after a divorce.  and this is definitely a divorce.

it's funny how I didn't feel tragic today.  the babysitter aunt is still downstairs.  I am upstairs in my jammies blogging and getting ready to watch some television.  I am tired, never the less.  it is still warm outside and very humid.  I feel like a schemata.  I ran to the supermarket to return my son's beer bottles.  I always took the kids with me to teach them about recycling and to give them some income.  if we collected bottles and cans along the way I bought them treats with the returns money.  it drove the daughter-in-law crazy.  when she would find the dirty cans in the kids' knapsacks she'd freak out.  she shut down our little enterprise pretty fast.

when I first moved to the neighborhood, around 16 years ago; I used to collect empty bottles and cans along the roadside.  that was my Friday afternoon mitzvah.  I was cleaning up the environment.  that was before they passed a law to refund deposits on beer bottles and soft drinks.  the Ethiopians have been making a bit of income for years.  I returned 67 bottles today and got $12.  that would have paid for the kids' favorite  kinder chocolate eggs with the toys inside. oh well...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Odd Man Out

it is 12:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  I feel like I got hit by a truck.  I did a lot yesterday and I'm emotionally and physically spent.  I helped a friend yesterday get her medical papers in order to get her on the way for cancer care.  I spent hours with her at the clinic and then at the national insurance office to try to file a disability claim.  I spent over six hours with her.  there were so many details to go over that I knew my friend was overwhelmed.

when you are told that you have cancer, your brain begins to melt.  I felt that I had a lot of information to impart but I don't think this person is ready for the process.  I don't know how much I should push her.  she has my number and I guess I should wait for her to call me but I am afraid she will let important things slide by.  I don't want to come off as aggressive.  hopefully, she will keep her appointment with the social worker and get the push she needs to deal with the bureaucracy here.

I just gave her a call to remind her to fast before the pet scan and make sure that she has her blood test for the creatinine levels with her.  she knew she forgot something and thought she only had to fast for 4 hours.  what is my responsibility here?  she navigates through the world differently than I do.  do I stay on top of her or let her fail?

I guess there is that fine line between encouraging and enabling someone.  we all know that I tend to be codependent and that I have enabled my son for years.  I am going through a life change right now.  I'm a little old to be going through the empty nest syndrome but that's exactly how I feel.  after watching after my grandkids exclusively, for the last two years, I find myself in a situation of being totally alone.  after caring for them on an average of 7 hours a day for 3-4 days a week; I probably see them for less than a minute at a time now.

I did spend an hour outside with them last Friday night.  my granddaughter fell asleep in my arms.  this is how it is.  I complained about being the live-in-babysitter so I don't get to see my grandkids now.  I blogged that I don't care if I ever see them again so I don't.  and it's all because I do not set limits.  I do not know how to say no and when I do I'm always considered to be a witch.  I did manage to say no to the small kids and yet I was blamed for spoiling them.

I couldn't have much of a life the past 7 years because I chose to care for my infant grandson.  I didn't want him to go into daycare.  the next child went onto daycare and blossomed.  she learned to feed herself, went to bed on schedule and was more independent than the boy.  I guess that was because she didn't have me caring for her.  when she was still a baby they moved out.

I had a job and I was regrouping.  it was actually the first time in 10 years that I went back to work.  both my parents had passed, the grandson was in kindergarten and the baby was in daycare.  I worked so hard and got paid so little but I was very appreciated and beloved.  I felt that I was beginning to breathe again and then I got cancer.  I never returned to work and resumed being a caregiver for both children.  for the past two years I barely left my house except to pick up the kids from school.

now I am once again, on my own and will soon be living in this enormous house alone with my 2 dogs.  the kids are moving to another neighborhood.  it is not in walking distance of my home.  I have been told that I should call when I'd like to see the kids.  last Friday I knocked on the door downstairs and asked if I could visit my grandchildren.  I must have complained about the lack of privacy last month so the children are not allowed to visit me in my home.  I am allowed to see them downstairs.

a lot of grandparents would say that I had it made in the shade.  after all, they aren't moving to India.  in my movie fantasy the son calls the mom every erev Shabbat to wish here a Shabbat shalom.  he puts the kids on the phone to say hello.  he comes to her in synagogue and kisses her on the cheek.  he comes upstairs once a week to ask her what's new.  I said it's a fantasy, didn't I?

no, they are fleeing their 4 bedroom apartment prison cell where they have spent nearly 4 years.  they have freed their kids from the overbearing clutches of the American grandmother who fed and bathed them almost every night and put them to sleep with fairy tales for the last 3 years.  mom, get a life and stop blogging about us!  in my fantasy movie, the son hugs the mother and says thanks for all your help and sacrifice on our behalf.  you were always there for us.  you gave us everything and kept hardly anything for yourself.  we will miss you but we'll come and visit you with the kids.  mom, it's your time to blossom!  I said it was my fantasy, remember.