Archive for the 'Grandparents' Category

Reunited and it Feels A Little Stiff in My Joints

Monday, December 7th, 2009


One of my grandmother’s oldest friends, Clara, moved to Durham a few years ago to be closer to her daughter.  I’ve known Clara as long as I can remember, and my grandmother has known her longer than that.  We used to go over to her house to break the fast after Yom Kippur with a big vat of borscht.

Since we were going to be in North Carolina for Thanksgiving, Clara’s daughter and my mom arranged for the two of them to meet up in Asheville.  I can’t remember seeing my grandma happier.  (“I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.”)

GRAM: Clara, you look great!
CLARA: You look great!
GRAM: Good!  We’re both lying!

Hora Lessons

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


Shama and I went to visit my grandparents at their new place last week.  Most nights they have some sort of event, and this night was no exception:  It was the coronation ceremony for the king and queen.  I’m not sure what criteria is involved in selecting a king and queen, but they were both over 100 years old.  We met the king, but never saw the queen.

Shama: Where’s the Queen?
Gram: She went to bed.

They also had dancing and a 3-piece jazz band.  The band didn’t know “There’s A Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” but they did play Hava Nagila at one point so people could dance the hora.

Now, when most people do the hora they rock the concentric circles and maybe some of those arm spins, but my grandma always wants to do this dance where people go through people’s arms and then get tangled up and put arms on shoulders and form lines and, well, it’s very complicated.  No one ever gets it right to her satisfaction — including those of us at Lincolnwood Place last week.  At one point, years ago, after failing to teach it to several of her grandchildren, she muttered, “that’s why none of you are married!”

Well, guess what, Gram, I know how to do it now.  Next hora, you’re gonna see some skills.

A Robot Hallmark Moment

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009


My grandparents were very excited to get me one of those cards that plays music for my birthday.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t figure out how to record the message that plays before the music, so when I opened it all I heard was, “Press and hold button to record your message before the song.”  Sometimes technology just gets in the way.

Sometimes It’s Good to Be the Dummy

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Sometimes when my aunt Renee is in town she and I play bridge with my grandparents.  Neither of us understand the game all that well, but it’s fun to see my grandparents so competitive.  Even my grandfather, whose age is catching up with him, remembers every bid and trick.

My grandma (who was my partner) made some aside comments to Renee in the middle of a hand.

Renee: I think you’re trying to trick me.
(A few cards later)
Renee: You were trying to trick me.

At this point, my grandmother stood up and did a little dance on her way to making “game.”

The skill in bridge centers around giving subtle hints to your partner through bids and leads.  I’d often ask my grandma, “What do you think I have?”  As I eyed the glut of clubs in my hand she’d say something like, “10-12 points and at least 4 hearts.”  Whoops.  By the end of the night we started to get on the same page, although I spent much of it as the dummy.

Bubbie and Zadie Kvelling Over A Spiel

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Months ago, when I got back from building a bridge in Guatemala, my grandmother asked me if I would come to her chavurah and talk about the trip. A chavurah is an extra-curricular activity group for Jews. Loosely translated from the Aramaic it means, “Is this mandel bread parve?” My grandparents have been getting together with their chavurah for years. I’ve known several of them since I was a kid.

I, of course, agreed to be a speaker — can’t say no to grandma — and we set a date. Then I got a phone call telling me I had been bumped for another speaker.They must have gotten Henry Kissinger or Bono or something. We set another date and I got bumped again. Finally, last night, they settled for me. Now I know how Abe Vigoda feels when he gets that last-minute call to fill in for canceled guests on Conan.

I arrived to a multi-tiered, 20-minute argument/discussion on how to buzz into my grandparents’ apartment. Did you push pound? — I pushed three — Wait, did you dial the number? — No, I scrolled through the names? — And then pushed seven? — Someone with a dog opened the door for me — I need to call you? — Someone called — Do I need a cell phone? — Yes, then you push nine.

Eventually everyone made it inside. I gave my spiel, showed some slides, and it went over very well. I had a really great time. They even made a donation to EWB and gave me some chocolate babka, so all in all a pretty nice day.