Last Time I Saw My Grandmother

“Savta Ester” watercolor by Naomi Young of her grandmother. Courtesy photo

I’ve collected enough money from tips working as a waitress.  I’m very excited about my upcoming trip to the United States. I’ll be traveling all by myself to a place that I have no clue how big it is. I’ve never done such an independent gutsy move like that before. I feel like a young jet set woman. I’m going places!

Before I leave I am checking off things on my ‘to do’ list. Visiting my grandmother is on top of the list today.

I’m on my way to visit her in an old age home. We took care of my grandmother for a few months before she went to this place. I used to feed her like a baby, wipe her face from the food and clean her up too. It was making me feel good to be compassionate and caring for her in her old age. She was funny and witty and we used to joke around. In time it was too difficult to care for her as her needs grew more and more.

So today when I see her I’m going to tell her about my trip and share with her my excitement. She’ll probably be happy for me.

As I enter her room I can hardly recognize her. This very petite 4 foot and something woman, a mother of nine children who survived ( a few didn’t ),  a grandmother and a great grandmother to a tribe of about 150 to 200 family members is staying in this room all by herself.

“How can one mother care for nine children and still end up in a place she cannot  call home?!” I’m thinking.

She is in a sterile white room with just a bed and gadgets all around it. There is not even one family picture in it to remind her of the person that she was and still is. She was always hosting large groups of people during weekend and holidays in her sparkling clean house with the best homemade cooking.

“How can a life so rich and be wiped completely?”

“Are we really too busy with our own rich life to not see anyone else?! What if we’ll end up this lonely? So many disturbing questions and situation cross my mind.

I feel sad as I think about this human condition.

She’s taking a long gaze at me with a dazed look and asks me: “Who are you?”

“Naomi,” I reply. I’m the daughter of Mazal your daughter.”

She doesn’t say a word after that, she just looks at me with her hazel eyes, then wandering outside the window perhaps trying to chase her faded memories.

Was that a slight nod of her head I see?  I am not sure what that meant.

I kiss her hand and caress her face with my hand. I feel every deep wrinkle on her face and know that every one of them has a quite a story to tell.

She raises her face trying to read my eyes with a look that says: “Who are you little angel who came here today to do this to me?” She is surrendering herself to me like a little helpless child allowing me to continue caressing her. I feel her gratitude when she closes her eyes…

I comb her thin fine grey hair and braid it just like she did in the good old days when she was in her prime, only she was covering it with a pretty kerchief.

I stay with her longer than I thought I would. I never tell her that I’m leaving soon.  I told her that I would see her soon but somewhere deep in my heart I doubt that. Her eyes follow me as I leave her place with a heavy heart, I feel good that I had shown my grandmother my love. A much needed love.

That picture of her that day will always stay with me.



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